Sunday, March 18, 2012

True Colors Award Presentation

Bess Watts, Donna Cartwright Co-President, Linda Donahue (award recipient), Peggy Shorey  Executive Director
and Ove Overmyer

Linda H. Donahue has dedicated a lifetime to advancing the world of work.  She has served the house of labor in western New York and the Rochester area for over three decades.

There are generations of labor folks in our workforce who have benefitted from Linda’s expertise – many of us stand on the shoulders of Linda Donahue. 

Linda has worked for Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations in many different capacities.  Today, she directs the Labor Studies On-line Certificate Program as senior extension associate.

Linda was a former aide to Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, Vice president of LERA (Labor and Employment Relations Association), a long time board member of the Ronald G. Pettengill Labor Education Fund and a member of the advisory Board of the Finger Lakes Occupational Health Clinic.  In 2009, Linda chaired the Hotel and Restaurant Industry Wage Board for the state Labor Department. 

How does all this relate to Pride at Work and the True Colors Award?  There is a saying that when the student is ready the teacher appears.  Several years ago I took a class and I remember a fabulous presenter, Linda Donahue, saying  “don’t expect someone to support your cause if you don’t support theirs’.  It hit home.  Linda may not know it but that observation was the foundation for our new chapter of Pride at Work.

Heeding her advice, for the first several years we focused on building relationships and understanding the dynamics of the labor community… and became connected in any way we could.  At the start we didn’t know what we didn’t know…but Linda was always there with kind feedback, a pat on the back and always challenged us and me personally to go one step farther than we thought we could.

Always a mentor to us, during this time Linda regularly invited Pride at Work to participate in any workshop or discussion she was involved with.  The Contemporary Labor Issues class I took with her was life changing and shortly thereafter I ran for President of the CSEA Local.  As Linda would say, ‘if you don’t like something then do something about it.’…

Linda actively took the time to learn about us; the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. She wanted to hear our stories, understand our issues, learn about our families and how gay people are impacted in the workplace. She is what we define as a ‘true ally’, but she is so much more than that, she’s family. In the finest tradition that labor defines family, she is family.

On behalf of the officers and members of the Rochester & Finger Lakes Chapter of Pride at Work AFL-CIO It was my honor to present the Pride at Work True Colors Award to Linda Donahue for her outstanding commitment to equal rights in the workplace.  Bess Watts, President  

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