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Leading Hispanic Educator Voted NEA Vice President


Lily Eskelsen, an elementary school teacher from Utah, has been elected vice president of the National Education Association by the nearly 10,000  delegates at its 146th Annual Meeting here, the NEA announced.

“I am grateful for the continued support of our membership, and will continue to work to make public education the number one priority for America’s lawmakers,” said Eskelsen. “We must provide our teachers with the resources they need to ensure that all children receive the great public school education they deserve.”

Eskelsen has served two three-year terms as secretary-treasurer of the NEA, the nation’s largest professional organization, representing 3.2 million educators. The association said she is one of the highest-ranking labor leaders in the country and one of its most powerful Hispanic educators.

Eskelsen has held leadership positions n the NEA since her 1990 write-in election as president of the 18,000-member Utah Education Association. She served in this post until 1996, when she was elected to the nine-member NEA Executive Committee.

In 1989, Eskelsen was recognized as Utah Teacher of the Year. She won the Democratic nomination for U.S. Congress in 1998 but lost to the incumbent, Merrill Cook, 43 to 53 percent. She served as a member of President Clinton’s White House Strategy Session on Improving Hispanic Education in 2000.

She is on leave of absence from her teaching position at the Christmas Box House Children’s Shelter, a one-room school and residential facility for K-6 children awaiting placement in foster homes. Her term as vice president will last for three years, and is effective on September 1, 2008.

“Lily has been such a strong voice on children’s issues,” said NEA President Reg Weaver. “She brings so much to the table as a teacher and NEA leader that I know she will make an outstanding vice president.”

Eskelsen succeeds Dennis Van Roekel, who served two terms as vice president of NEA and will take over as president in September.

A self-described “Army Brat,”  Eskelson has lived in Texas, Georgia, Washington, Colorado, Alaska, and Utah. Her mother is from Panama and her father was a retired soldier from Mississippi.   She and her husband, Ruel, worked their way through the University of Utah.  She graduated magna cum laude in elementary education in 1980, later earned her master’s degree in instructional technology and worked as an elementary education teacher before heading the UEA.

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