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Meet Chris Baumann. New Executive Director of GAE Chris Baumann originally hails from Chapel Hill, North Carolina but has been a Georgia resident since 2009. Chris comes to us from the local Workers United affiliate of the Service Employees Internal Union or SEIU. While there for eight years, Chris led and participated in nu-merous grass roots organizing efforts aimed at providing better conditions for the organization’s members across the South. While growing up, Chris’s family moved around the country from NC to Albany, GA to just outside Los Angeles. His mother was a public school teacher in NC, Albany and California and a member of the association while in Georgia so public education is in his DNA. For college Chris came back to North Carolina and enrolled at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. He went there with the intent of becoming a lawyer, but while there noticed a lot of student activism taking place on campus and ended up catching the organizing bug. He learned from those activist experiences that people could make a difference through organizing. It 18 | KNOW • Volume 12 Issue 3 was also around this time he began getting involved with labor organizations, specifically at the Chapel Hill campus where housekeepers were subjected to subpar wages and poor working conditions. After graduation he continued to work for the UNC Housekeepers Association fighting for the service workers and they eventually won a class action law-suit filed on the workers behalf bringing an increase in wages, education opportunities, and more respect on the job. Soon after, Chris went to work for the Industrial Areas Foundation, the oldest community organiz-ing network in the country, where he worked with congregations, neighborhoods, and schools to build broad-based coalitions in Charlotte and Winston- Salem, NC. In both organizations, public education was the main issue. While working with grassroots leaders, he began working directly with public schools and seeing firsthand the disparity between the suburban and urban and rural schools. Through concerted activism and organizing, both organiza-tions conducted an audit involving hundreds of community members and subsequent campaign on building equity standards in the Charlotte, Winston- Salem, and Union County public school systems. They eventually organized bond support for the public schools to the tune of almost $1 billion. Chris has lived in Henry and Fayette Counties for the last 5 years with his wife, Erika, and has two children, JR and Caleb. They currently reside in Tyrone where the children attend Fayette County schools. Chris says, “We have a great tradition and history in GAE that we want to build on for a bright future. Public education and educators are under some of the most severe attacks and pressures that we have never seen before. Our strength lies in GAE invest-ing in the leadership and professional development of our members and staff to build the strongest organization possible. We want to create the process where hundreds, if not thousands, of our members engage in and shape the future of public education and our democracy.” LIKE US ON FACEBOOK facebook.com/GeorgiaAssociationofEducators “We have a great tradition and history in GAE that we want to build on for a bright future.”


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