AFT Vice President
Kara McCormick-Lyons was born and raised in New York City. She is a graduate of SUNY Albany, where she majored in English and minored in education and Spanish. She is the first female in her family to graduate college.
In 1997, McCormick-Lyons joined Teach for America because she believed in the power of public education to transform lives. Her career in the classroom quickly taught her that the union is one of the most powerful vehicles to advocate for students, educators and communities. It is this conviction that brought her to union leadership.
After teaching in New Orleans and New York City, McCormick-Lyons taught in Yonkers, N.Y., where she served as the English language arts department chair in her school. McCormick-Lyons has spent the last 18 years as a middle school teacher in White Plains, N.Y., where she has been the president of the White Plains Teachers Association since 2017.
McCormick-Lyons still loves working with students in the classroom and has a passion for writing curriculum. She takes great pride in the critical literacy curriculum that she and her colleagues have written and implemented. McCormick-Lyons has taught undergraduate and graduate education courses to help new educators and has served as a fellow adviser to the NYC Teaching Fellows.
McCormick-Lyons’ union work has included advocacy against the misuse of standardized testing to evaluate students and the reevaluation of the Common Core State Standards. McCormick-Lyons’ work as a leader with New York State United Teachers began in 2015, when she was appointed to the New York State Education Department’s English Language Arts Advisory Panel.
McCormick-Lyons’ advocacy also includes fighting for equitable school funding. Her work with NYSUT’s Fund Our Future campaign provided a platform for her to deepen community relationships and collaborate with elected representatives to advocate for funding so that students and staff in public schools have access to what they need.
As WPTA’s president, McCormick-Lyons continues to work collaboratively with her local school district to ensure a safer learning environment for students and staff throughout COVID-19. During the height of the pandemic, McCormick-Lyons’ local distributed over 44,000 books to the community, thanks to a partnership with First Book and the AFT. This work was often paired with food distribution, which grew the local’s relationships with community partners and inspired McCormick-Lyons to secure an AFT Innovation Fund grant to help build the infrastructure to address food and clothing insecurity throughout the community.
McCormick-Lyons is committed to the philosophy that leadership is not a position; it is action. She also knows the importance of spreading the word about our mission and our work to the public. She is active on social media and in the press to advocate for her colleagues and students because it has never been more important.
McCormick-Lyons’ husband, Michael Lyons, is also a middle school educator. They live in Westchester County, N.Y., with their two daughters, who currently attend K-12 public schools.