Barbara Easterling - President

As president of the 4.2 million-member Alliance for Retired Americans, Barbara J. Easterling leads a grassroots organization that educates and mobilizes retirees for progressive campaigns at the federal, state, and local levels.

Easterling led the Alliance's successful efforts to pass the sweeping 2010 health reform law, a landmark act that will help millions of retirees better afford to see a doctor and fill a prescription.  Easterling traveled the nation to rally seniors behind health reform and combat misinformation and scare tactics aimed at older Americans.

According to Easterling, "the Alliance is a unique and wonderful organization.  No other group can bring progressive retirees together for legislative and political action.  No other organization can bring together retirees from both labor unions and community groups.   Simply put, the Alliance is about lifelong activism."

Easterling became Alliance president in February 2009, succeeding George J. Kourpias.  She was re-elected to a full four-year term in April 2010 at the Alliance's national convention.  In remarks following her election, Easterling said, "It is a great honor to serve as your president.  You are the best grassroots activists in the nation, and I will do all that I can to help you."

In addition to her Alliance role, Easterling currently serves on a number of elected and appointed positions including: auditor of the International Trade Unions Confederation, member of the U.S. State Department's Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy, treasurer of the American Friends of the Yitzhak Rabin Center, and member of the American Income Life Labor Advisory Board.  She has been a leader in the fight to raise money for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
Prior to joining the Alliance, Easterling was the first woman to serve as secretary-treasurer of the Communications Workers of America, its second highest office.  In 1995, she became the first woman in history to serve as secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, the 13-million member federation of labor unions.

Launching her telephone career as an operator at Ohio Bell, and joining CWA Local 4302 in Akron, Easterling incorporated the strong principles of trade unionism she learned as a child growing up in a Polish family of coal miners and rubber workers in Akron, Ohio.  In 1980 she came to Washington, D.C. to serve as an assistant to the president of the union - a position she held until her election as executive vice president in 1985.

Easterling has received a broad range of honors and accolades during her union career.  In 1985 she was inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame, and she received the prestigious Women's Equity Action League award in 1986.  In 1992 she received the Midwest Labor Press Association's Eugene V. Debs award.  She also is the recipient of the International Women's Democracy Center Global Democracy award, the Ellis Island American Legend award and the March of Dimes Salute to Labor award.