The Caucus of Working Educators of the PFT is a member-driven organization with distributed leadership. It is led by a Steering Committee elected by dues-paying members of the Caucus. The Steering Committee provides guidance to the membership and is the central location for all communication with members. Steering Committee elections take place in September of even-numbered years; officers serve two-year terms beginning that October. These 11 officers include 2 co-chairs, a political secretary, an external communications secretary, a treasurer, a membership coordinator, and 5 additional at-large members. As of October 2016, the WE Steering Committee officers are as follows:
Kelley Collings is a Co-Chair of the Caucus. She has been a Philadelphia public school teacher for 16 years. She and her colleagues at Feltonville School of Arts & Sciences helped fuel the local Opt Out movement when they publicly organized 40% of the families at their school to opt out of high-stakes testing. Kelley is a founding member of the Caucus of Working Educators, as well as a leader in the Teacher Action Group of Philadelphia and a member of Teachers Lead Philly and Need in Deed.
Ismael Jimenez is a Co-Chair of the Caucus. He has worked with Philadelphia students ranging from preschool to high school for 10 years. Currently, he teaches African-American History at Kensington Creative and Performing Arts High School and is an active member of its Building Committee. Ismael has also facilitated several professional development sessions at the School District on issues ranging from structural racism to bridging the knowledge gap of students that manifests between high schools and postsecondary institutions.
Communications Secretary Adam Blyweiss entered his eighth year teaching in career and technical education (CTE) programs for commercial and advertising art. He currently sits on the PFT Building Committee at Martin Luther King High School. Before joining the district, he worked in print production, software development, publication management, and nonprofit advising. He has entered his third decade doing freelance graphic design as Desperate Hours Productions and is a member of the Philadelphia chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design.
Shaw MacQueen is Membership Coordinator for the Caucus. This is his fifth year teaching in the School District of Philadelphia, beginning his second year at Mitchell Elementary which was recently made part of the District’s Turnaround Network. Shaw teaches eighth-grade English and social studies, and is the school’s PFT Building Representative. He has helped WE plan and organize its annual conventions, social events, and the annual Summer Reading Series.
George Bezanis is the WE Political Secretary. A teacher since 2001, George became a PFT member 10 years ago working as a high school Social Studies teacher. He currently serves as PFT Building Representative for Central High School. He believes that fair and equitable public education, no matter what race, ethnicity, zip code or socioeconomic class one may happen to be born into, is the building block of American democracy. George is also an elected Democratic Committeeperson in the 63rd Ward.
Vici Smith is Treasurer of the Caucus of Working Educators. She teaches Social Studies and ESOL at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences and has taught in Philadelphia for nine years. She holds six teaching certifications, as well as Master of Education degrees in Elementary Education (2007) and Literacy and TESOL (2015) from Holy Family University. Vici is a member of Feltonville’s PFT Building Committee since 2010, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), Penn TESOL East, and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).
Tamara Anderson is an Officer-at-Large for the Caucus. Tamara believes that parents and educators are partners in the fight for public education. Tamara has taught middle years through adults for over 20 years at Harcum College, the University of Phoenix, the Chicago Public School District, the New York Board of Education, and the School District of Philadelphia. She currently works with UCORE, Philadelphia Student Union, and Opt Out Philly, and writes for Chestnut Hill Local and Philadelphia Examiner online.
Eileen Duffy is an Officer-at-Large for the Caucus. A fearless, relentless advocate for public schools as a 21-year veteran school nurse, Eileen currently works at Academy at Palumbo and Stearne Elementary. She earned her B.S. and M.S. from St. Joseph’s University, and her nursing degree from Hahnemann. In 2011, she successfully organized and led a 22-week rally which brought national attention to Philadelphia’s layoffs of school nurses. She is a proud member of POWER and the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools.
Larissa Pahomov is an Officer-at-Large for the Caucus. A PFT Building Committee member at Science Leadership Academy, Larissa’s contributions have supported Caucus communications and public interaction including position papers, press releases, online campaigns, meeting facilitation, and union election oversight. Larissa embodies the Caucus’ grassroots work to empower the rank and file of the PFT.
Amy Roat is an Officer-at-Large for the Caucus. Amy has been teaching English Language Learners in 6th-8th grades for nine years at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences. For 15 years prior, Amy taught elementary grades throughout Philadelphia and in the Rochester, NY School District. She is a graduate of Manhattan College, University of Pennsylvania (Master of Science in Elementary Education), and Temple University (Master of Arts in Urban Education). Amy has been Feltonville’s PFT Building Representative for the past three years.
Peggy Savage is an Officer-at-Large for the Caucus. Peggy is a fifth-grade classroom teacher at Richmond Elementary School. Peggy served as a PFT Building Representative for more than 20 years and is now PFT Political Liaison at Richmond. Peggy is a Need in Deed first year teacher, a judge for math/science symposia and competitions, a leader of multiple student writing and literacy programs, and a member of the Philadelphia Teachers Convening Steering Committee.