Steve Swetsky named NJEA executive director

Succeeding Ed Richardson, retiring after 26-year career

NJEA Executive Director Ed Richardson is retiring following a 26-year career with the association. He will be succeeded by Steve Swetsky, who served as NJEA’s assistant executive director for the previous six years alongside Richardson. Swetsky, who will be the seventh executive director of NJEA, was appointed to the position by NJEA’s Executive Committee in August. Richardson and Swetsky are working together during this transition. Richardson’s retirement begins Dec. 1, 2019.

Prior to taking on his new role, Swetsky worked for NJEA in several capacities. In addition to his time as assistant executive director, he was the assistant director of UniServ for the NJEA’s southern region from 2008 to 2013 and a UniServ field representative from 2000 to 2008. He also worked as a part-time UniServ negotiations consultant for NJEA for eight years prior to joining the full-time staff in 2000.

Swetsky began his career in public education as an industrial arts education teacher in Washington Township, Gloucester County in 1980. During his time in Washington Township he served in numerous leadership roles with the Washington Township Education Association, including president and chief negotiator. 

NJEA President Marie Blistan expressed her appreciation for Richardson’s accomplishments as executive director.

“Ed Richardson deserves the thanks of every NJEA member,” Blistan said. “He’s been a stalwart advocate for members throughout his career at NJEA. Over the last six years, he has expertly guided NJEA through many challenges and leaves our union strong and well-positioned for the future. On behalf of my fellow officers, Vice President Sean M. Spiller and Secretary-Treasurer Steve Beatty, I thank Ed for dedicating his career to NJEA. He will be greatly missed.”

Blistan praised the selection of Swetsky to succeed Richardson, highlighting his deep roots at NJEA and his diverse experiences as a local leader and staff member.

“Steve is the right leader to continue the progress that Ed has made,” Blistan said. “His experience in every facet of NJEA’s work, combined with his understanding of our mission, will serve NJEA well. Steve understands that the power of our union resides in its members, and he has spent his career preparing and empowering NJEA members to effect change. His knowledge of the collective bargaining process and his deep commitment to racial, social and economic justice, combined with his belief in the power of member organizing, will lead to an even stronger union in the years to come.”

Richardson also highlighted his successor’s organizing credentials.

“I’ve had the privilege of working with Steve for over two decades,” Richardson said. “From the first time we met, his focus on member organizing and empowerment has never wavered. I could not have asked for a better partner by my side during my time as executive director, and I know Steve will build on the work we did together to take NJEA to new heights. After 26 years, I will miss NJEA, but I know the organization is in good hands.”

Swetsky thanked his predecessor.

“It has been a pleasure to work closely with Ed as he helped NJEA navigate some very challenging times,” Swetsky said. “He is respected throughout NJEA as a steady leader, but his willingness to break new ground and try new things helped transform our union. His steadfast support during our transition has been invaluable. Ed has been a valued colleague for as long as we’ve worked together, and he will remain a friend when he retires.”

Swetsky also spoke of his vision for the future of NJEA.

“I look forward to working with our leaders, members and staff to continue to build the power of our union,” Swetsky said. “Marie, Sean and Steve share my commitment to building union strength through member power, and I know there is no match for the commitment and power of NJEA members. As one of the strongest unions in America, we’ve helped build the best public schools in the nation. That’s no coincidence. I look forward to working with NJEA’s leaders, members and staff as we continue to advocate together for our students, our colleagues, our profession, our public schools and our communities.”

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