MEA Elections Information

Paula Herbart

Candidate for President


MEA President Herbart took office in 2017.  A music teacher from Macomb County, Herbart served as local president, 6-E coordinating council chair and president of MEA/NEA Local 1 and was on the MEA and NEA Board of Directors. She has served as Vice-President/Mid-West Region on the National Council of State Education Associations (NCSEA). Herbart was named to the Governor’s Return to School and Student Recovery Advisory Council, is co-chair of Launch Michigan and in 2022 was appointed to the Children Trust Michigan board. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Herbart lives in Lansing, MI with her husband and son.

Candidate Statement

“Now, more than ever, the union is the beacon of professional strength, and that’s what my campaign is all about.” Six years ago I said this in my nomination speech and now it’s our reality. MEA has regained its rightful place as a political powerhouse, organizing to ensure influence over policy and professional agency, and providing the funding needed to accomplish our goals: increased wages and benefits, meaningful professional support, and equitable resources for every student across Michigan regardless of their zip code.

I have delivered on my promise to make MEA the voice of every education professional.

During my presidency, we have witnessed the largest increases in statewide public-school funding in a generation! Michigan’s per pupil allowance has increased exponentially over the past three years. With this year’s proposed preK-12 increase, school budgets will have improved by 18% since 2020 and, with increases of 4% in each of the last two years, dedicated funding for higher education has become a priority for Michigan.

I continue to work tirelessly to make certain the stories I share with policy makers and people of influence are YOUR stories. The stories of bus drivers delivering sometimes life-saving services to students during the height of Covid, stories about the challenges at the bargaining table, and stories about what it will take to make things right for all educators. Now I can share stories with you about our victories: long overdue wage increases that haven’t been seen in a decade which immediately change the trajectory of members’ lives, ESP members winning district-provided health care, and significant increases to the hourly wages of our lowest income members. We’ve secured tuition reimbursement for those who choose to go into teaching and eased the financial burden by instituting paid student-teaching experiences. I made sure our policy makers heard YOU and it has made a difference in the lives of every single MEA member!

As MEA’s Governance Champion for Organizing in NEA’s Year-Round Organizing program, I have worked alongside you and other members and staff to build a culture of organizing that has increased our ability to make connections with potential members, a system of organizing which didn’t exist when I was first elected president. We have dedicated staff organizers, member organizers, and have received unprecedented grant funding from NEA to execute this organizing. We have room to grow and we have a plan to grow. Now we all must be fully engaged in the hard work started six years ago in realizing the gains we anticipated prior to Covid: to make sure every potential member sees themselves in the union, is connected to the union, and wants to be a member of the union!

As a result of my persistent efforts, during my tenure as president the MEA has significantly strengthened its coalitions with other unions, school administrators, and school board associations; the Michigan Department of Education; and solidified through the Launch Michigan coalition, business groups. But more importantly for our union, the trusted relationships I have established with Michigan’s Offices of the Governor & Lt. Governor, the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, and other policy makers throughout the state have been crucial to MEA’s success in advocating for our members, students, and schools and universities.

I am certain MEA is on the right path. Now, let’s organize our ranks! Our success stories illustrate the value of unionism!  I know that people will become members of our union when we demonstrate what can be accomplished when we work together. I have worked every day to guarantee MEA will be here to represent and support generations of educators! Our professional advocacy continues to be strong. I am committed to fighting for these issues. I am committed to standing up for our members. I am committed to the Michigan Education Association. Join me in being a Champion for Education!

Chandra Madafferi

Candidate for MEA President


Chandra joined MEA more than 25 years ago at CMU while becoming a teacher. Elected as MEA vice president in 2017, she has served in a variety of roles including local president for the Novi EA. Chandra holds a master’s degree in education from U of M Dearborn, is a Fellow of the Education Leadership Policy Program through MSU and was a teacher in the Novi Community Schools where her two children currently attend. In addition, she was a 15-year administrator in the Bloomfield Hills School District for a summer program (Bloomfield SCAMP) that services individuals with disabilities.

Candidate Statement

MEA is unique, as we are not only a professional association meeting the needs of our members, but we are also a union. We are not just any union, but the largest labor union in Michigan, and our members are our biggest strength! Today, we are at a crossroads for not only our organization, but our chosen profession. Prior to the pandemic, membership was on a decline after many left prematurely due to years of pay freezes, legislative attacks, and privatization. Regressively organizing, or continually trying to replace members who leave with new ones, has become a challenge we must overcome.

Even with these challenges, I believe that MEA can not only grow our membership but be on the forefront of education innovation for our members and our students. We must take a NEW approach that is more personalized and proactive to meet the needs of our diverse membership. Bringing the experience of our staff together with the strength of our members, MEA must rebrand education as the profession of the future. We must inspire and ignite the next generation of educators, giving us the opportunity to become membership net-positive for the first time in years. As the author of the proposal of the Center for Leadership and Learning, I have observed that the increase in professional development through partnerships with universities and education associations, in addition to those with our staff, has improved member engagement and given our members another direct benefit.

Strong locals with well-trained local leaders, who work closely with highly-trained MEA professional staff/UDs, are the lifeblood of our organization. Assisting with release time and reducing dues are just a few ideas my VP Candidate, Brett Smith, and I will explore. We are prepared to address the countless statewide governance vacancies and support burned-out leaders holding multiple positions, worried about who will take over next. We will expand our leadership bench for local associations and our UniServ staff by threading the needle between the Presidents’ Academy and staff training as we recruit the best and brightest with years of demonstrated success. I am confident that with my proven leadership experience and growth mindset, together with the MEA Board of Directors, our MEA/NEA delegates, aspiring educators, and the wisdom of our retirees, we will revitalize and strengthen our systems that provide the best service to our members while ensuring financial stability.

We must continue to focus on bargaining for better wages, benefits, and working conditions to make education careers more appealing and provide a livable wage for all. In addition, we must take advantage of the most pro-public education, labor-friendly legislative body we have seen in years to reverse many laws that have been harmful to our educators and students.

As vice president I continue to be active in electing individuals and developing relationships with those who support public education at the local, state, and national level and appreciate the importance of working with people on both sides of the aisle. I have worked closely with individuals from the Michigan Department of Education, higher education institutions, the governor’s office, and other education associations from sitting on statewide task forces, committees, and boards. We are committed to partnering with labor unions in a new way to help reinforce our efforts to support labor friendly legislation and strengthen the union movement.

As a systems thinker, and a natural collaborator, I use data to drive change, accountability, and improve transparency to solve issues before they become problems. Often working behind the scenes and out of the spotlight, I listen to members and am side-by-side with leaders and staff doing the work. I am proud of what I’ve accomplished as vice president and am grateful for those who had faith in me to get me this far. Brett and I are proud to be the ESP Caucus recommended candidates and are thankful for the early endorsements taken by the 2B coordinating council, regions 4, 7, 10 and 13 as well as endorsements from 2, 3, 9, 11, and the Michigan Association for Higher Education (MAHE). Together with over twenty years combined experience at the state and local level, we have the knowledge, vision, and ability to make the benefits of membership more visible as we improve our services to our members. With a social justice heart, a business and service mindset, along with the strength of our union as our shield, I will continue to keep our association and profession the powerful institution and influential profession it is for generations to come.

Alfonso Salais

Candidate for Vice President


The son of Mexican parents, Alfonso Salais, Jr. is a first-generation honors college graduate from Central Michigan University. As a 28-year educator in the Lansing School District, he firmly believes that the MEA will be stronger when we fully embrace our diversity and the diverse members we serve, which includes ESPs, Higher Ed, and other classified and licensed professionals. Alfonso served in multiple leadership roles at the local, state, and national levels. He is currently the Vice President of his local, an NEA Board of Director and serves as the Secretary/Treasurer of the National Council of Urban Education Associations.

Candidate Statement

I am pleased and honored to announce my candidacy for Vice-President of the MEA to represent and advocate FOR YOU and for ALL educators in our union!

During my 28 years as an educator, I have made it my goal to educate people about our profession and advocate for public schools and its employees. I feel privileged to contribute to the community in which I grew up and to be an integral part of my urban school district where male educators of color are desperately needed.

My purpose as a professional is to support, serve, and uplift others, unconditionally and positively. My service to our association in many different roles has included advocacy for public education, raising awareness of racial and social injustice for marginalized communities, and working with other organizations and community stakeholders to elevate the profession.

My heart and passion for this organization has never faltered! I am very fortunate to serve in many leadership capacities. As a MEA and a NEA board member, I made it a personal mission to champion our work and speak on behalf of ALL educators at the local, state, and national level.

I served on the NEA’s Resolution Committee, was appointed to serve on NEA's Racial Justice in Education Policy statement task force, served as the Ethnic Minority Director for the National Council of Urban Education Associations (NCUEA), and was elected as the NEA's Hispanic Caucus Midwest Director. Currently, I serve as a member of the NEA’s ESP Career Committee and have served as NCUEA’s Secretary/Treasurer since 2018.

I feel it is important to be a proponent for all members of our profession: students, teachers, and support staff who are the glue that hold our schools together. They are our ESP members- both K-12 and Higher Education. It is with the same confidence and commitment to this organization that I ask for your vote of confidence in electing me as Vice President of the MEA.

Brett Smith

Candidate for Vice President


Brett is currently serving his second term as the MEA secretary-treasurer.

Before being elected as MEA secretary-treasurer, Brett was an elementary teacher in Linden Community Schools for 17 years. He has been a proud MEA member for 23 years. Before teaching, Brett worked for General Motors and Ameritech Cellular. Brett and his wife Tracey have four children and reside in Linden.

Candidate Statement

Dedicated, passionate leadership is what I believe in most.

I am committed to continuing to work with and for our members. Traveling the state and listening to members has provided me with the knowledge and tools to advocate and represent our members.  I am passionate in regards to revitalizing the MEA into the strongest professional organization and union it can be. I take the work to heart, and unionism is part of everything I believe.

I have the leadership experience that makes me the clear choice to be the next vice president of the MEA. As a local leader in Linden, I served as an association/building representative, vice president, grievance chair, lead negotiator, and president. Having these experiences as a local leader is an imperative part of being a successful vice president.

At the state level, I have gained incredible insight as I have a seat on the MEA Board of Directors, the MEA Executive Committee, the MESSA Board of Directors, and the MEA Financial Services Board. I also sit on several committees for the MEA Staff Retirement Plan Board. I proudly represent MEA members as I sit on the Executive Board of the MDE Special Education Advisory Council.

As MEA secretary-treasurer, I have become a national leader. I lead trainings for officers from other NEA state affiliates. I am also a mentor to other NEA state secretary-treasurers. As a member of the SRP board, I have the unique opportunity to attend national training where I facilitate sessions, and I have built relationships with other labor union leaders across the country. I will use these relationships to further the labor union movement nationwide.

I am looking forward to working with Chandra Madafferi. We plan to honor the past by including MEA retired voices in conversations. We will seize the present by providing the best member service possible as we are a member-driven organization. We plan to revitalize the MEA and rebuild our union and our profession. We also believe in being fully transparent and will include MEA Board Members in crucial decisions concerning the MEA.

Frank Burger

Candidate for Secretary-Treasurer


Frank Burger is a proud 25-year public school educator in the Carman-Ainsworth School District, where he serves as the president of the Carman-Ainsworth Education Association. He became active with the union early in his career when he was elected Vice-President of the CAEA. Frank has served on the MEA Board and Executive Committee, NEA Board of Directors, MEA Region 10 President and Treasurer. He also serves as the co-chair of the MEA PAC Governing Board and Statewide Screening and Recommendation Committee, and co-chair of the NEA LGBTQ+ Caucus. Frank lives with his husband Michael of 16 years in Grand Blanc.

Candidate Statement

Honesty, Integrity, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Commitment, Passion, Visionary. These are the words that best describe me as a leader.

 As a proud union member and local president of the Carman-Ainsworth Education Association, I currently teach high school biology and physical science. Growing up in an MEA family, I learned the importance of unionism. I have appreciated your past support as an NEA Board Member, and am now seeking your support for the office of MEA Secretary-Treasurer.

Good leaders have vision, are passionate, focused, committed and caring. Strong leaders go further by motivating others to achieve higher goals and take collective action. I am passionate about advocating for members, lifting up social justice issues, educating the public, and building alliances at the grass roots level.  My goal is to ensure MEA has a budget that is transparent, provides an equitable dues system, serving the needs of all members and reflects our union values!

Members’ voices must be heard no matter where they live or work. People want to see their MEA officers fighting for every aspect of public education! As stated in our mission statement, MEA must “to ensure that the education of our students and the working environments of our members are of the highest quality.” As Secretary-Treasurer, I will work to make certain our union has the resources needed to achieve these goals. MEA must build on the strong partnerships already established to solidify its place as the education policy experts. I’m proud to have built successful coalitions with several labor unions, including the AFL-CIO, Teamsters, and UAW in Genesee County, that allow us to stand together united. MEA will be able to leverage these relationships I have fostered at the local, state and national level to garner more resources for all members.

As your next Secretary-Treasurer, I know we can build on our successes that we have seen in the last year alone at the ballot box and work to build a strong union that represents all of our members!

Aaron Eling

Secretary-Treasurer candidate


Aaron has been a classroom teacher for almost twenty years, having the unique opportunity to teach in both charter and public schools across urban, suburban, and rural communities. Prior to becoming a public school teacher, Aaron spent over a decade in the service industry as a skilled tradesman where he learned the value of a “hands-on” education. Aaron is a resident of Grand Haven and currently teaches 6th grade science and social studies at White Pines Intermediate School. He and his wife have three children and share their home with their two rescue dogs, and an occasional foster pup.

Candidate Statement

Honor, Courage, and Commitment. These core values are the building blocks that aid in making the right decisions at the right time. They are the values you live by and they are the values you fight with as well. My union brothers and sisters, you don’t need me to tell you that our schools have become battlegrounds. Ultra-conservative activists have declared a culture war on our students and on our members. They are attacking our curriculum, our libraries and our school boards in an attempt to destroy public education as we know it. For the sake of honesty and transparency, we know public education is not perfect. We know some of the current systems are broken. But we also know there are systems that we can fix together, if we reprioritize the work at MEA and bring our collective voices to a wider audience.

To accomplish this we will need a leadership TEAM that brings out the BEST in each other, a team that communicates honestly and effectively, a team that works together to achieve a shared goal. We also need to organize members who are willing to step up and do the work that needs to be done. Our members are our greatest asset.

As a local leader, I recognize that membership has been on a steady decline in many areas of the state, especially on the westside, where I live. I see that it’s getting more difficult to organize new hires, and in some cases, retain our existing members. We are a professional labor organization and it is crucial that we evolve to meet the changing needs of our members, while staying true to our mission: To protect, advocate, and advance the rights of all education professionals to promote quality public education for all students.

I’m running for MEA Secretary-Treasurer because I strongly believe in the value of public education and honoring and protecting the integrity of my union brothers and sisters. I am thankful for our union and the stability it provides for our members, and I am thankful for all of you. Solidarity.

Eva Menefee

Candidate for Secretary-Treasurer


Eva Menefee is the Lead Advisor at Lansing Community College. She has been at the college for nearly 30 years after spending 10 years at Michigan State. She has been a department rep, secretary, treasurer, negotiator, and is currently the Local president. At the state level, Eva serves on the MEA Board of Directors and sits on the Executive Committee. Eva is the currently the designated bookkeeper for the Anishinnabek Caucus of the MDP. In addition, she and her husband own a successful food trailer, and go to close to 25 Native American Pow Wows and Ethnic Festivals each year.

Candidate Statement

Eva Menefee is running for the position of MEA secretary treasurer. When asked why she wants to run, she said, “I want to run for this position because at a conference for higher education last March the president of NCHE made a statement that only three affiliates had members of Higher Ed on their executive teams. How can we as a teacher’s union representing all facets of education and not have more people from higher education as executive officers?” After the conference she came home to Michigan to ask if there had been a Higher Education member on the Executive team, only to find out it had never been done. That information made her decide to run. Not just for the members who work in higher education, but for all who might feel disenfranchised in the organization.

Her career in higher education has allowed her to understand strategic planning, and budgeting. She believes in data driven decision making and is committed to using a group consensus model when making decisions. Eva believes in leading teams by creating a culture of cooperation and commitment to the work that needs to be done. While many new treasurers have never had the opportunity to understand the requirements of a local treasurer, Eva believes that MEA needs to provide the training and resources to help everyone understand what is needed to be fiscally successful. In addition to treasurer training and member engagement, she believes in bringing the MEA organization into a closer position of a balanced budget. Eva feels the MEA executive office needs to make sure the number of employees of our company is right-sized to provide our members with the great service they are expecting. Being fiscally responsible when spending the dues of our members is an important value that Eva has.

Dr. Anthony Pennock

Candidate for NEA State Director


Dr. Anthony Pennock is an alternative high school special education teacher in Battle Creek Public Schools and is also the president of the Battle Creek Education Association. He has served on the bargaining team for his local since 2017. Anthony is currently the Region 4 Vice President and is also a delegate to the South Central Education Association coordinating council. Anthony has served on the Screening and Recommendation committee for Region 4 and is a founding member of the MEA LGBTQ+ Caucus and serves as the Male/Non-Binary Co-Chair. He has been serving as NEA State Director since 2021.

Candidate Statement

Being the youngest of five children was rough, but it would have been worse without the protections of the bargained contract my father had as a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324. I saw the struggles it took to win those contracts when I would join my father on the picket lines when negotiations would stall, then seeing the power of the collective action win a strong union contract and wage increases!

I have been a member of MEA and NEA since before I signed my first contract, joining the Students of Michigan Education Association (now AEM) in college. After securing my first contract, the first question I asked was, “Where is my union rep?” and I signed up that day for active membership.

In 2017, I got a job in Battle Creek Public Schools and jumped into leadership quickly, becoming a bargaining team member, building representative, District Collaboration Team member, and eventually, president of the BCEA in 2019. Since becoming president, I have worked to lift the voices of all educators and bring together the leadership of the ESP groups in the district to work collaboratively for the benefit of all members and students.

I am also a founding member and the Male/Non-Binary Co-Chair of the MEA LGBTQ+ Caucus to help provide support and resources for members to better the educational experience for LGBTQ+ staff and students statewide.

Since being elected as an NEA State Director at the MEA RA in 2021, I have served as a Co-Facilitator on the NEA Board Think Tank on Reimagining the Future of Public Education where I thrive to bring the voices of all members to truly re-envision what public education should be for our students and educators. I have also presented at multiple MEA and NEA conferences on supporting LGBTQ+ inclusion in schools and most recently EA and ESP collaboration.

My calling has always been to ensure all voices are heard. From my classroom, to my district, community, state, and national levels, I know the power of the union as activists, mentors, and professionals for all educators!

Heather Schulz

Candidate for NEA Director


Heather Schulz has been a middle school science teacher in the Lakeview Public Schools (St. Clair Shores) since 1997. Throughout her career, she has served in leadership roles in her local association: Crisis Chair, Secretary, and Vice President. Currently she is the President of the Lakeview Education Association and a delegate to the MEA and NEA Representative Assemblies. In addition to local positions, Heather has served on the MEA Budget and Finance Committee, Statewide S&R, and MEA-PAC. Currently she is Region 6 President, alternate to the NEA Board of Directors, and member of the MEA Board of Directors.

Candidate Statement

As the daughter of two Michigan public school educators, I have been tuned in to the rewards and challenges of our professions since I was very young. As a young adult, I realized that working to improve public education, both as a profession and for the students that attend public schools, was a passion that would drive my life. When I made the decision to become a teacher, it put me on a path of learning, leadership, and advocacy that has continued to this day. After more than twenty years of advocacy and leadership in my school district, my local association, and the MEA, I look forward to an opportunity to be a voice for Michigan educators and our students as a member of the NEA Board of Directors.

Public schools continue to face issues around funding, safety, and equity for all students. Public school educators continue to face issues around: recruitment and retention, evaluation demands, and collective bargaining rights. I believe that my experiences as a 26 year veteran educator, union leader, parent, and someone that is engaged in the community give me credibility and a unique perspective to influence decisions about each of these issues at the national level. I look forward to collaborating with lawmakers and colleagues from around the country to move policies forward that will ensure quality public schools for all.

Each time I have taken a step on my leadership journey, I have done it intentionally and with respect for the skills needed to hold the position. I am confident that I have the skills and personality to do the job of an NEA director. As an NEA director, I will lift up the voices for all of the tremendous Michigan educators and students. I will leave space for the voices of others that have different experiences than me. I will listen, and learn, and get smarter about things that I don’t already know. I will be thoughtful, and intentional when making decisions. I will represent the members of the MEA with integrity.

MEA Voice Feature


Letter to Members: It’s a New Day

As your new MEA officers, we are proud to represent Michigan’s educators, as we work together to continue to advocate for the educational tools all students need and the professional support all school employees deserve. And now more than ever, we believe that our hard work and dedication over the past ten years have been […]