Past winners of the Tom Keenan Award
1999: Steve Zavatski of The Hour in Norwalk, Conn., was recognized for his leadership qualities and strong record of accomplishment for his members. Steve played a major role in organizing The Hour’s staff into a unit of the New York Guild and helping negotiate its maiden contract. Zavatski was nominated by a letter from every member of his unit.
2000: John Phillips of Reuters played a key role in mobilizing the members of his unit in a three-year struggle for a contract. Phillips was commended for being the "jump starter'' for negotiations. He helped organize demonstrations in front of Reuters headquarters and on Wall Street.
2001: John Shostrom of Time Inc. helped his unit negotiate a landmark contract extension that guaranteed the Guild contract after the takeover by AOL. Shostrom was commended for his dedication, integrity and work ethic.
2002: Deborah Wallace of Consumers Union and Peter Szekely of Reuters were the first pair of Keenan award winners to be honored in the same year. Deborah was chosen for her tremendous contribution to the Guild by volunteering her time and expertise to assist those members who had been directly affected by the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center. Wallace, an environmental biologist, conducted a study of the after-effects of the 9/11 tragedy on members who worked in the middle of the "toxic soup" that was created after the Twin Towers were destroyed. Wallace also helped mobilize Consumers Union members for negotiations. Szekely’s nomination was backed by a letter of support signed by 25 of his co-workers, who cited his "tireless, insightful and intelligent leadership.’’ He was praised for his integrity, leadership, diplomatic skills and selfless dedication.
2003: Richard Kompa of The New York Times was the first Old Gray Lady staffer to be selected as a Keenan award winner. Kompa was recognized for his knowledge, compassion, reputation and dedication to helping members solve problems.
2004: Lena Williams of The New York Times and Oscar Hernandez of El Diario were chosen for the award from a record number of Guild activists who had been nominated by fellow members. Williams and Hernandez were each acknowledged for their roles in getting fair contracts for their respective units during difficult negotiations.
2005: Ed Fannon of Standard & Poor’s was selected because he served his members with great distinction in helping to lead difficult negotiations, securing buyouts that averted involuntary layoffs. In one of his nomination letters, a member wrote glowingly of his dedication to serving the needs of the members at S&P.
2006: Deborah Zabarenko of Reuters stepped forward in a major way to lead a rank-and-file effort that played a vital role in winning a decent contract. Zabarenko led a six-member committee of stewards and activists that mobilized members for workplace actions, kept them informed and relayed their opinions to Guild bargainers. She helped carry out picketing, coordinated coffee and RSI breaks, standups, weekly wearing of red T-shirts, byline strikes and other actions.
2007: Alex Blanco and Edith Fried, both of Time Inc., and Randye Gilliam of Standard & Poor’s became the first trio of Keenan honorees. Blanco was cited in one nomination letter as pulling off a “near miracle of signing up more than 10 percent of eligible workers as Guild members in the space of just a couple of months.’’ Time Inc. is an open shop. Fried was commended for her long years of service as the “right-hand person to four unit chairs.’’ Gilliam was recognized for serving Standard & Poor’s faithfully over many years and for always being “on top of Guild business’’ and “handling all kinds of issues for her colleagues.’’
2008: Nancy Bachrach of The New York Times helped displaced Guild members find other jobs in the company when her advertising department faced job cuts and outsourcing. In one nomination letter, Bachrach was cited for being a solid, compassionate resource for Guild members who were going through turbulent times.
2009: Art Mulford of The New York Times led his members through a year in which the unit was buffeted by numerous job cuts, including the first layoffs in its newsroom and a financial crisis in the Guild-management fund that pays Times unit members’ health care claims. One nominator’s letter commended Mulford for always being there for his members. “He is supportive, intelligent and brings an enlightening perspective to the many dilemmas we have had to face.”
2010: Leslie Adler and Dan Grebler, both of Thomson Reuters, were chosen for the contributions they made during the Local’s most bitter contract dispute with the media company in 25 years. Adler was recognized for being one of the most respected members of the bargaining committee and for her ability to fully understand a vast range of highly technical issues and explain them to members in a digestible way. Grebler directed the mobilization at the company's New York headquarters for numerous job actions, including informational picketing and leafleting.
2011: Jill Jaroff stepped up to fill a leadership void at the Time Inc. unit and went on to improve the working lives of her Guild-represented co-workers by uncovering previously overlooked contract provisions. Jaroff, a Sports Illustrated copy editor as well as a lawyer who formerly worked as a public defender, was praised by the co-workers who nominated her as being dedicated, detial-oriented and deft in her dealings with management. “She impresses everyone she comes in contact with, and her concern is always where it should be – with the needs of the individual employee,” said one colleague.
2012: Stephen Soule was chosen after leading the drive that brought Guild representation to the business unit employees of the Jewish Forward's, where the Guild already represents the editorial employees of the English-language Jewish Forward and a non-editorial unit of the Yiddish-language Forward. Throughout the process and during the negotiations for a first contract, Soule was personally targeted by management, but was undeterred.
2013: Bernice Rohret, the Guild’s membership chair at Time Inc., was selected from a very competitive field for her relentless efforts to sign up new members at the unit’s open shop. To recruit members, Rohret, a Sports Illustrated copy editor, often goes office to office, encountering hostile managers at time. Colleagues cited her “unparalleled” dedication to a very difficult and often frustrating challenge.
2014: Standard & Poor’s Unit Chair Randye Gilliam and Hudson News Grievance Chair Montasir Islam, both of whom had central roles in their respective contract negotiations last year, were selected because of their high level of dedication. Islam was instrumental in leading the unit through a round of contract talks for several weeks while the company unsuccessfully disputed the legitimacy of Unit Chair Kazi Islam (no relation) to serve in his office. Gilliam, a longtime activist and, for the past two years, the New York region’s representative on the TNG-CWA Executive Council, guided the unit through an outsourcing assault and a difficult round of contract negotiations in which retirement benefits and employment security were key issues.
2015: Hudson News Unit Chair Kazi Islam, who worked to build a cohesive community among the retail and fast food workers of his sprawling Manhattan bargaining unit, won the Guild’s 2015 Keenan Award after being nominated by nearly two-thirds of his more than 300 co-workers. He served as the unit chair since 2014 and participated in the negotiations that produced a contract early that year.