Donna M. Chiera is the president of the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey, leading the 30,000-member education union federation.
A lifelong teacher, Chiera retired in 2011 after spending more than 30 years in Perth Amboy Public Schools, working in the town where she grew up and attended school. She was primarily a special education teacher, finishing her career as a resource room teacher. She holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Kean University in Union, N.J.
Chiera recently chaired the AFT Teachers program and policy council. She has represented New Jersey teachers serving on several national AFT subcommittees, including on professional development, literacy and early childhood. She has represented the AFT in selecting the National Teacher of the Year and served on the New Jersey Teacher of the Year selection committee. At AFTNJ, she previously served as executive vice president for grades pre-K through 12.
From 1991 to 2013, Chiera was the president of her local, the Perth Amboy Federation. She worked with the district on a code of conduct, professional development and other educational initiatives to improve student achievement. Chiera was part of a Perth Amboy team of educators invited to participate in Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government Program on Public Sector Labor-Management.
Chiera served as vice president of the Middlesex/Somerset County Central Labor Council and was named Middlesex-Somerset CLC Labor Person of the Year in 2015. In 2016, the New Jersey State AFL-CIO named her New Jersey Labor Person of the Year.
Chiera serves as a vice president on the New Jersey State AFL-CIO executive board. She served as education chair for the city of Perth Amboy’s Strategic Planning Task Force and, after the 2017 election, served as education co-chair on New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s transition committee.