SCHENECTADY — For “consistent leadership and constant advocacy,” CSEA Schenectady County Community Action Program (SCAP) Local President Caryn March was recently honored with our union’s Danny Donohue Leadership Award for the Private Sector.

In presenting the award at our union’s 112th Annual Delegates Meeting in October, CSEA President Mary E. Sullivan described the work March does every day in advocating for members.

“She fully understands the tireless and often unacknowledged work performed by the members she represents, and she has pressed hard to negotiate good contracts with an often cash-strapped, not-for-profit employer,” said Sullivan.

“I am extremely honored, and beyond privileged and amazed to have been picked to receive the award,” said March. 

In addition to advocating for members as a union leader, March supports the teachers and staff who run SCAP’s Head Start and Universal Pre-K programs. She also works to strengthen families in the program through counseling and referrals to various community resources.

Every day, March encounters families in need or crisis. 

“I see the effects of generational poverty,” said March, who said she is seeing more grandparents with joint custody, as well as families broken apart by drug addiction and mental health issues.

Since all of SCAP’s funding is federally streamed, March uses creativity to help secure strong contracts that not only include raises, bonuses and longevity increases, but hold the line on insurance costs. 

“When I started in 2001, the only raise we had was a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA),” said March. “Soon, we will begin another round of negotiations and equity and fairness are the guides.”

She is also working to ensure that all workers feel important. 

“Everyone deserves to be treated fairly and equitably,” said March. “We are all important to the overall work done and to work as an effective team, you need to recognize the importance that each person plays. The kitchen staff is just as important as the lead teacher or the managers leading the teams.”

This honor from our union for her work motivates March.

“Being acknowledged tells me what I do is valued, and it helps keep me going to fight the next fight and to keep standing up for members,” said March.

— Therese Assalian


About Author

Therese has been working as the Capital Region Communications Specialist since 2002 handling all facets of internal and external communications for the region. Therese started her career at a Madison Avenue Public Relations firm and held several positions in public relations, marketing and event planning in corporate and non-profit roles in New York and Pittsburgh prior to moving to the Capital Region in 1999. Therese holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in Communication Studies and is also a published freelance writer on travel, food and the arts.

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