By GAE-Retired President Toni Smith
Finding words to express my gratitude for the honor you’ve given me in electing me as the next president of the Georgia Association of Educators-Retired is difficult. I stand by my promise to be committed to the mission of GAE-Retired and to our purpose of promoting public education, and I am determined to grow the organization and serve the members (both Active and Retired) throughout the state. This determination and commitment are fueled by my passion for public education and the role retired educators play in working to advance the rights of all students to have a “great public school” regardless of zip code, race, gender or expression, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status.
Among other things, the word transition means changeover, a concept that should be smooth and non-disruptive but should engender forward movement. GAE-Retired has made great strides under the leadership of Karen Solheim, and I am thrilled that she will remain a member of the GAE-R Executive Committee as our vice president. This positioning will ensure a smooth transition that maintains our trajectory. Changes will occur, however, as we work together more diligently with GAE Active members, but those changes will be led by the membership of our great organization. We’ll work together to increase member participation across the state and to grow our group and ramp up our activities.
I want you to know more about me. I’ve served the Organization of Dekalb Educators, GAE, and NEA for almost two decades in various capacities: as an Association Representative and vice-president of ODE-Retired, as a member of the NEA and GAE Resolutions Committees, as chair of the GAE Resolutions Committee, and as an appointed member of the NEA Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification Committee. As a volunteer trainer for NEA for over 12 years in the LGBTQ Issues cadre, the Cultural Competence cohort, and the Social Justice cohort, I have served on the Training of Trainers faculty for the cadre and cohorts several times and continue my work traveling as a trainer for NEA. I’ve been a frequent elected delegate to the NEA RA and an active member of several national caucuses.
Now, I ask you to join me in our continued forward movement as we work to make GAE-Retired a premier retired organization in the nation. Again, thank you.