Diann Woodard, president of the School Administrators (AFSA) and a member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, died on Sunday after a long illness. She had a long and distinguished career as a teacher and as a tireless advocate for quality public education for all children and for the rights of working people.
In addition to 36 years in the schools of Detroit as a teacher, counselor and administrator, Woodard quickly became active in her union, serving on the union's general executive board for 16 years before being elected president. In her time as president, she was instrumental in forging an alliance with the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the National Association of Elementary School Principals, that was key to securing congressional funding for training principals.
AFSA Executive Vice President Ernest Logan lauded Woodard's advocacy for children and working people:
Diann’s passing is a great loss to America’s labor movement. She personified the word leader in the fight for union rights and working families, though elected officials and antagonists of public education who mistook her quiet grace for weakness soon found themselves in a much longer, tougher struggle than they anticipated.
She spent decades fighting on behalf of workers in every profession while standing up for the children whom she has dedicated her life to educating, in the hope of empowering them to think independently and pursue greater opportunities.
Woodard grew up as part of a union (UAW) family before later becoming active in the Organization of School Administrators and Supervisors, AFSA Local 28. She served three consecutive terms as president of the local before becoming president of AFSA in 2009. For the AFL-CIO, Woodard served as vice chair of the Committee on Women Workers and fought for a greater role for women and minorities in the labor movement.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said:
For over nearly four decades Diann Woodard fought to give Michigan’s children a better future, while fighting for justice and rights for teachers and school administrators. Today, America’s labor movement has lost a champion, and an exemplary leader and educator. And I've lost a friend. From her days growing up in a UAW household in Detroit to her lifelong service to our country as a teacher, guidance counselor, assistant principal and labor leader, Diann Woodard always put workers, students and families first. On behalf of the AFL-CIO, I send my deepest condolences to Diann's family, including her sisters and brothers at AFSA. She will be sorely missed.