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    Updated October 22, 2009

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Rachel Laforest Appointed Public Policy Director

Rachel Laforest

Rachel Laforest has been named Equity's first Public Policy Director.

"We are fortunate to have a person of Ms. Laforest's exceptional skills, background and experience join the Equity staff in the newly-created-and Council mandated-position of Public Policy Director," said Executive Director John P. Connolly.

Ms. Laforest comes to Equity after five years directing organizing and assisting with public policy at the Transport Workers Union Local 100 in New York City representing the 35,000 transit workers of the City's subway and bus systems to every level of government. She organized and led multiple mobilizations of thousands of TWU members to visit City Hall and the state government in Albany; conducted extensive research and designed education and training in public policy for rank-and-file members and officers; and was one of the lead coordinators for the union during the 2005 New York City transit strike, after which the union leadership was jailed. When the government punished the union for striking by eliminating dues check-off, she led the successful campaign that resulted in voluntary dues payments by 85% of rank-and-file members. She also oversaw all Shop Steward training; led the leadership team that developed the legislative goals, crafted the agenda, and executed lobbying efforts; and .acted as spokesperson to media and government.

Prior to her career with TWU, Ms. Laforest served as Campaign Director for Jobs with Justice/New York, building community-labor solidarity and joint action and co-coordinating the campaign that won an increase of $2 per hour in the minimum wage for New York State.

Ms. Laforest holds a BA from Hunter College/CUNY in Political Science (Black and Puerto Rican Studies) and Education and speaks Spanish and Haitian Creole. She has been recognized in Outstanding Young Women of America, and received the B'nai B'rith Humanitarian Award.

I feel privileged to be able to combine two worlds that I feel so passionate about here at Actors' Equity. A marriage of art and politics can be a tricky one, but when nurtured and approached with honesty and integrity, a rich and rewarding one as well. I applaud you all in taking this step toward broadening Actors' Equity's role in the political arena and am honored to be part of the team that will pave the way.

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