Everyday Hero Sam Trivette

Winner: AFT Retirees division

Retired, Alaska Public Employees Association

Sam TrivetteSam Trivette (at left, in photo) has spent a lifetime defending public employees. In fact, his nominator says he is "Alaska's most tireless advocate for public employees." Trivette spent three decades working for the state's department of corrections, beginning his career as a correctional officer. He has always been a people person, but Trivette says working corrections served to enhance his people skills.

Over the years, Trivette has relied on his people skills to stand up for his colleagues. When he retired, Trivette joined the Retired Public Employees of Alaska. He took a position as secretary and served in nearly every capacity, including president. In 2006, Alaska switched from a defined-benefit retirement system to a defined-contribution system for all public employees. That's when Trivette got himself appointed to the Alaska Retirement Management Board; his appointment meant that public employees had an advocate to look out for their retirements. In that role, Trivette got to know most of the state lawmakers on a first-name basis.

"If I'm involved and I can't make something happen, it's clear I need to do something else," he says. His dedication has made a world of difference. However, after 11 years of exemplary service, Trivette is stepping down. "I need to slow my activity level," he says, and for him that means a little more hiking, yard work and wood chopping, as well as volunteering with the Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition. Trivette made sure he left his beloved public employees in good hands by lobbying for a retiree well-versed in policy surrounding public retirement systems to be appointed in his place.

Trivette is still a member of the RPEA, and because he's familiar with every statistic, policy, law and procedure concerning public retirement systems, he will continue to advocate when he's needed. "I have a mind to learn and desire to share what I've learned," he says. "That's how I can make an impact on people."