UNIONDALE — CSEA Nassau County Clerk Unit President Audrey Hadden devotes a large portion of her life to learning and teaching others about diversity, equity and inclusion [DEI].

She is using these lessons to help make positive change in our union.

Although Hadden is aware that everyone has some level of implicit bias, which is defined as attitudes, prejudices and judgments that one unconsciously holds about people or groups, her work and education primarily focus on African Americans, as that is the demographic she represents and holds the most experience in.

Hadden first noticed the need for education at her worksite when she noticed that both she and Jewish co-workers in her office were being treated differently.

“There was a Jewish woman in my office who changed her legal name to something that sounds more Americanized, so I figured there was something to that,” said Hadden. “I started watching how she had to navigate around people who didn’t like her. I noticed that other Jewish people in the office had to do the same thing. I decided to align myself with them because we were all going through similar issues and needed help getting through it.”

As time went on, workers from other marginalized groups began to work at the Nassau County Clerk’s Office and joined CSEA. They also leaned on their fellow members for support.

Seeing the disparity and wanting to be in a better position to effect change is why Hadden successfully ran for union office. She has served as our union’s Nassau County Clerk Unit President since 2017.

Hadden said she is aware that some people may find her outspokenness to be off-putting, but she muscles through it knowing there is a bigger purpose.

“Other unit presidents before me tried to address some of these problems directly and were unsuccessful,” said Hadden. “I push through because I truly believe that I can make change.”

Hadden noted that she believes that some people are unaware they are practicing biases and still some enjoy power, while others have a scarcity mindset that causes them to impede progress.

“If you believe in abundance and that God supplies all things, you wouldn’t be concerned about that,” said Hadden. “You would want to do what is morally right.”

Hadden encourages everyone to do some self-reflecting on their own thoughts and actions.

“People have been taught their implicit biases by dominant society, which is why everyone must be on their own anti-racism journey,” said Hadden.

To aid her work, Hadden uses her bachelor’s degree in psychology as well as her numerous trainings in DEI. Hadden has also been certified by the Association of Black Psychologists to conduct Sawubona Healing Circles, which are culturally-grounded healing strategies that help those with African ancestry to cope with racial trauma/stress and community violence. Sawubona is a Zulu word that means, “I see you. We see you.”

CSEA Nassau County Clerk Unit President
Audrey Hadden points out her relatives in a
picture display at the Nassau County African
American Museum.

Personal connection

Born on an anniversary of the March on Washington, Hadden has always felt connected to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” address at the 1963 event. That connection has led her to become the chair of the CSEA Nassau County Local Martin Luther King Jr. Committee as well as the Vice President of the Nassau County Martin Luther King Association.

Hadden said she hopes to use more of her experience in AFSCME/CSEA’s Racial, Equity, Steering Committee, of which Hadden is a member.

Hadden requested that members of the committee start reading “Racial Justice In The Workplace” and hold a discussion on the first few chapters at a later date.

Bringing more in-depth anti-racism training directly to CSEA is also a goal.

“We have to allow ourselves to have uncomfortable conversations in order for real change to happen,” said Hadden. “I hope that one day we will be able to interact with each other with empathy. There’s no true solidarity without it.”

— Wendi Bowie

Interested in joining CLUW?

The Coalition of Labor Union Women is America’s only national organization for union women. Formed in 1974, CLUW is a nonpartisan organization within the union movement. CLUW has a strong network of more than 40 chapters, including four in New York State:

  • Kate Mullany CLUW (Albany)
  • Long Island Chapter
  • New York City Chapter
  • Western NY Chapter

For more information about joining a CLUW chapter or to learn more about CLUW, visit http://www.cluw.org.


About Author

Wendi Bowie is an award-winning journalist who has focused the majority of her career on covering Long Island news. Her efforts have earned her the Press Club of Long Island Media Award for Public Affairs and the Long Island Coalition for Fair Broadcasting Folio Award. Wendi was drawn to her current position as Communications Specialist for CSEA’s Long Island Region because it speaks to her strong desire to champion the rights of the common man and woman.

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