WEC is pleased and honored to recognize eight outstanding leaders at our 2017 Awards Dinner.

Colandus “Kelly” Francis is President of the Camden County Branch of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Valorie Caffee,
Executive Committee,
NJ Environmental Justice Alliance

Valorie Caffee worked as WEC’s director of organizing for 13 years, ending her service with the organization in 2009. While employed by WEC, she launched WEC’s Environmental Justice program. Along with WEC colleague Theodore Carrington, she helped raise awareness about and support for this critical issue by making presentations at community and union meetings, meetings of other environmental organizations, faith-based organizations, conferences schools, and workshops around the state and in other states as well. This work led to Valorie being appointed as chair of the Environmental Justice Advisory Council to the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, a position she held from 2002 to 2016, and her co-founding of the NJ Environmental Justice Alliance, NJEJA. She was also appointed as co-chair of Gov-elect Corzine’s Environmental Policy Transition Team.

During her tenure with WEC, significant strides were made for environmental justice, including the issuance of New Jersey’s first environmental justice executive order, passage of legislation to reduce the emission of diesel exhaust from school buses and other public buses to decrease the incidence of asthma and other pollution-related ailments; support by WEC for local EJ struggles; the production of the state’s first-ever video focusing on EJ; among other accomplishments.

Valorie has never met an injustice she liked and has devoted her life to actively fighting for social justice causes on many levels, including: serving as board member emerita with the NJ Environmental Federation (now Clean Water Action); GreenFaith; Harambe Social Services, Inc.; as VP of USW Local 1-149; as a member of the Ewing Township Green Team; as chair of the National Racial Justice and Labor Committees of the National Organization for Women; and as president of the NJ Anti-Apartheid Mobilization Coalition.

She was instrumental in raising awareness about the incidence of domestic violence in New Jersey and throughout the country, which led to her becoming a co-founder of Womanspace, Mercer County, NJ’s shelter and agency for the victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking in the ‘70s.

She is currently a workshop designer and presenter for the CARAT (Community Action and Response Against Toxics) Team of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists; VP, Ewing Park-Brae Burn Civic Association; Executive Committee member, NJEJA; adjunct faculty, Beyond Diversity Resource Center; among other organizations.

Valorie is also a social justice and environmental justice consultant. A graduate of Trenton State College (now TCNJ), she resides in her hometown of Ewing, living once again on the same street on which she grew up. She has mentored many high school and college students, and served as the legal guardian of a South African girl while she attended high and college here. For nearly 20 years, she has also supported children through PLAN. In her spare time, Valorie rescues cats.

Lizette Delgado-Polanco
Council Political Director
Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters
John Ballantyne,
Executive Secretary-Treasurer
Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters

Lizette Delgado-Polanco joined the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters (NRCC) which encompasses five states in February 2017 as the Council Political Director with oversight of the Political Program of the council.

She was named Vice-Chair of the New Jersey State Democratic Committee (NJSDC) on June 12, 2013 and has been reelected unanimously for three terms. Delgado-Polanco, a first-generation Hispanic American, is an effective and compassionate advocate for the underrepresented, particularly the working poor. In her previous capacity as Executive Director of the SEIU New Jersey State Council, she worked on behalf of over 40,000 working men and women whose lives, families and livelihoods are affected by political, economic and social issues in NJ. She coordinated the legislative and political agenda for seven SEIU locals representing more than 40,000 members across New Jersey in four major industries, including health and long-term care, property services, municipal workers and resident physicians. She has had a long and distinguished career in government and labor relations, policy development, public affairs, and business and community development.

In 2002, she was named Assistant Secretary of State, the first Hispanic ever in that position, and was one of state government’s highest-ranking Hispanics. She was also Director of Special Projects for former U.S. Senator Jon S. Corzine. Delgado-Polanco, who previously served on the State of New Jersey Local Finance
Board, sits on numerous boards including: New Jersey Working Families Alliance; Latino Action Network; New Jersey Citizen Action; Working Families United for New Jersey; Blue Wave NJ, LUPE PAC (Latinas United for Political Empowerment); Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey; and (DUSA) Dominicanos USA. She has served as Vice Chair of the Atlantic County Democratic Party, and Chair of the Galloway Township Democratic Party.

Delgado-Polanco has a bachelor’s degree in Labor Studies from the National Labor College in Maryland. The proud mother of four resides in Mercer County.

John Ballantyne currently serves as Executive Secretary-Treasurer (EST) for the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters (NRCC), as a Trustee on the Northeast Carpenters Funds, the Carpenters Benefit Funds of Philadelphia & Vicinity, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters Funds, the Carpenters Local No. 491 Funds and the Carpenter Contractor Trust.

In his role as EST, John leads one of the largest trade unions on the East Coast, comprising of nearly 40,000 members throughout the states of Delaware and New Jersey and regions in Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania. He oversees the NRCC’s business strategy, critical financial planning as well as contract negotiations, development of contractor relations and training and recruiting efforts to ensure that the organization can work cooperatively with contractors and maintain the superior quality of workmanship that contractors have come to expect from union carpenters.

From 2008 to 2015, John served as the Assistant EST, where he was responsible for strategic planning, internal/external communications, contract negotiations, contractor relations, supervision of office staff and development of training materials and reports. During this time period, he also served as the President of NRCC, a Local 253 Delegate and a Trustee to the New Jersey Carpenters Fund Executive Finance Committee and the Buffalo Carpenters Pension Fund From 2009 to 2011, John served as the Assistant Supervisor and Chief Compliance Officer for the New York City and Vicinity District Council of Carpenters (NYCDCC), Trustee to multiple funds and served on the Board of Directors for the NYCDCC Labor Management Corporation. During John’s time in New York City, he helped supervise the day-to-day operations of one of the largest construction Councils of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBCJA), including the oversight of financial and strategic planning, development of contractor relations, and supervision of office staff. In John’s capacity as Chief Compliance Officer, his duties included implementation of an effective Compliance and Ethics Program, which included identifying deficiencies and implementing necessary improvements within the Program.

From 2006 to 2010, John served as the Northern and Central Area Manager for the New Jersey Regional Council of Carpenters and 1st Vice President for the organization’s Executive Board. In this role, he led the management and coordination of Council Representatives, coordination of multiple organizing activities within assigned areas, and devised effective outreach efforts to contractors and members.

From 2000 to 2008, John served as the organization’s Director of Organizing. During his time in this position, he demonstrated a commitment to continuing education that led to the development of numerous training and evaluation programs used by the UBCJA to transform Union Carpenters into Union Builders. He has traveled to other Councils as an instructor for these programs. Prior to his leadership roles within the Brotherhood, from 1982 to 1998, John Ballantyne served as Foreman and Superintendent for several large contractors in Northern New Jersey. He has been a member of the UBCJA for over 34 years.

John is active in his community and also serves on the Board of Directors for Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield, as a Commissioner for the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority and on the Board of Trustees for the Passaic County Community College Foundation.

Assemblyman Timothy Eustace,
Assembly Environment Committee

Timothy James Eustace, commonly known as Tim Eustace (born December 27, 1956) is an American chiropractor and Democratic Party politician from Maywood, New Jersey who is a member of the New Jersey General Assembly, representing the 38th Legislative District since 2012. Currently serves as Chair
of the Environment and Solid Waste committee, Vice-Chair of Health and Senior Services and sits on the Commerce and Economic Development Committee.

He earned a bachelor of science degree in psychology from Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey in 1978. Later, attended Pennsylvania College of Chiropractic, Eustace earned a doctorate in 1985 and became a licensed chiropractor. He currently runs his practice out of Maywood, NJ.

He served four years as mayor of Maywood (2008–2012), three years as borough council president (2005–2008) and a decade on the borough council (1995–1997 and 2001–2008). He also served as president of Maywood’s chamber of commerce and the local Rotary Club. For the past 15 years Eustace has operated the Maywood Rotary Kenya Project where he and a group of people head to Kenya and build schools for the Maassi people.

Ken Hoffner,
Health & Safety Director, retired
NJ Laborers

Ken Hoffner recently retired as the Assistant Director of the NJ Laborers’ Union Health and Safety Fund.   He provided consultative construction job site visits at the request of both contractors and Laborers union members, assisting them in preventing on-the-job injuries and illnesses.  He also coordinated the Laborers’ health and wellness services by organizing regular health fairs at local union meetings.

Prior to working in New Jersey, he worked at the international office of the Laborers’ Health and Safety in Washington, DC and for state OSHA programs in North Carolina and Maryland.  Over his 37 year career in safety and health, Ken focused on moving safety and health forward in a number of areas such as cotton dust, blood borne pathogens, lead in construction, petrochemical plant process safety, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, road construction work zone safety, immigrant worker safety and health, and silica.

Of all these projects, the road to a new silica in construction standard was the longest.  Working for the Laborers, Ken began collaborating with other building trades in 1996 to develop a proposed silica in construction standard.  We delivered the proposed standard to OSHA in 1997, and then waited nearly 20 years before OSHA issued a final rule on silica, which went fully into effect on September 23, 2017.  During those years of waiting, Ken was part of efforts to curtail the dry cutting of brick, block and concrete materials in New Jersey, and he was also part of an OSHA Silica Outreach and Research initiative to explain the hazards of silica, and develop engineering controls for common construction activities that create silica exposures such as jackhammering, concrete grinding, and core drilling.

Ken has a BS degree from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and a Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.  He lives in Mt. Laurel with his wife Jeanne, and has two adult children, Ellen and Dan.  He enjoys bicycling, gardening, traveling, and he plays the trombone in the South Jersey Pops Orchestra.

Hetty Rosenstein,
New Jersey CWA

Hetty Rosenstein is the Area Director for New Jersey for the Communications Workers of America (CWA); she is also the CWA District One Organizing Director, covering New York, New England and New Jersey. Rosenstein has been an active member of the Labor Movement since she was a teacher at the New Jersey Job Corps and organized her own workplace with CWA more than 35 years ago. She has served as a Shop Steward, as the Secretary-Treasurer, Executive Vice President, and President of CWA Local 1037.  In 1983, CWA in New Jersey included a provision against LGBT discrimination in its State Worker contract.  The Union bargained for healthcare for domestic partners in the 1990’s and in 2001, Rosenstein became the first labor leader in New Jersey to endorse and call for marriage equality.

In 2007, she became the first rank and file elected Local President to be appointed by the National CWA to an Area Director position.  As the State Director in New Jersey, she is responsible for the contract negotiations, enforcement, political action, mobilization and organizing taking place in dozens of Locals and among 70,000 New Jersey CWA members.

Rosenstein has been repeatedly cited as one of the 100 most powerful leaders in New Jersey and she is recognized as a leader committed to social and economic justice and direct action organizing.  Under her leadership, CWA has grown in both membership and in strength.  Rosenstein has emerged as a fearless and leading critic of the Christie Administration.

In 2016, she successfully helped lead a six and a half week strike with partners at IBEW against Verizon, in which workers beat back unreasonable demands for concessions from their employer.

You can always find Hetty in the vanguard of a battle for justice. After the election of He Who Shall Not Be Named,  Rosenstein put together a meeting of over 100 NJ leaders to form the New Jersey Resistance.  Hetty understands that the way to affect change is by building a broad-based movement that challenges us to show up in the streets, as well as in the voting booth. As Hetty says, “these issues are not Republican or Democrat – they are moral and immoral.”  Since the initial meeting, the movement has grown to more than 6,000 activists.

Rising Star Award

WEC is very pleased to honor two remarkable leaders with our  Rising Star Award, which is intended to recognize outstanding new leaders from labor, environmental and community organizations. Our 2017 recipients:

Carimer Andujar

Carimer Andujar is a 4th year Rutgers student studying chemical engineering and is the president of UndocuRutgers, an on-campus organization that aims to expand rights and access to opportunity for undocumented students. She has continued her work as an organizer despite the pressure of her school work and ambiguous immigration status. UndocuRutgers has organized rallies of more than 200 Rutgers students in support of immigrants on campus.

Eric Jones
Plainfield Education Association

Eric E. Jones, a veteran elementary teacher, is currently the President of the Plainfield Education Association.  He began serving a three-year term on August 1, 2016.

As an President, Eric is responsible for the working conditions of the 1,050 employees of the District.  In addition, his advocacy includes ensuring that each of the 8,000 students are provided with the services needed to ensure their academic success. Eric has made school health and safety a priority.

His journey as an education advocate began at an unexpected time and place in his young career.  After relocating to Atlanta in 2000, he was hired as an elementary teacher for the 2000-2001 School Year. In February of 2001, the District decided to illegally terminate all of its first-year teachers due to an administrative error and rehire all two hundred employees as substitutes – merely giving them two weeks notice. Having started his career in Westfield in 1998 and having knowledge of employees rights, Eric  fought back on this decision by contacting various district offices – including the late Dr. Beverly Hall, former Superintendent of School.  When all else failed, he contacted Fox 5 News. When District Personnel learned that this story would be featured on the evening news, Eric received a personal call from Dr. Hall stating that the decision had been reversed, much to the surprise and excitement of his peers.

Shortly thereafter, he relocated back to Plainfield where he has served as a teacher since 2002. Eric has served as the Plainfield Public Schools’ Coordinator of Community Engagement, Public Engagement, and Marketing.  Eric is a graduate of The College of New Jersey, where he earned a degree in Elementary Education.

A native of Chicago, Eric currently resides in New York City, New York.

Please consider supporting WEC and helping us honor our 2017 honorees by placing an ad in the program journal (print & online) and buying tickets, or purchasing a sponsorship package for a combination of both.