Press Release

AFT President Announces New Leadership Team

For Release: 

Friday, September 9, 2011


Janet Bass


WASHINGTON—Two longtime union activists and education reformers are assuming new roles in American Federation of Teachers leadership, AFT President Randi Weingarten announced today.

Lorretta Johnson, who has been the AFT's executive vice president since 2008 and a leader of paraprofessionals and school-related personnel for decades, will become AFT secretary-treasurer. Francine Lawrence, who recently retired after 14 years as president of the Toledo Federation of Teachers, will become AFT executive vice president. Lawrence helped develop Toledo's pioneering Peer Assistance and Review program (in which teachers are coached and evaluated by their peers) and an alternative compensation system.

 Johnson, who replaces the retiring Antonia Cortese, has been the union's executive vice president since 2008. She has been a leading voice for paraprofessionals and school-related personnel nationally and in Maryland for nearly four decades. She was president of the Baltimore Teachers Union's paraprofessional chapter for 35 years and president of AFT Maryland for 17 years. Johnson served 30 years as a vice president of the national AFT. The Baltimore native was elected as a vice president of the AFL-CIO on Aug. 2.

 "Lorretta has been a stalwart leader for education programs that help kids who need the most," Weingarten said. "Her expertise as an educator, union member and labor leader will be invaluable in her new role as secretary-treasurer."

 Lawrence, who has been an AFT vice president since 2008, has been involved in groundbreaking programs to raise teacher quality, which have become models for similar programs in school districts across the country.

 "Fran has been successful because of her insistence that the only way to achieve sustainable education reform is for teachers and management to collaborate," Weingarten said. "She always has recognized the links between a quality education, a well-trained workforce, strong communities and the voice of workers. Those qualities have made Fran successful in Toledo and Columbus, and will make her a great executive vice president for the AFT."

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.