Deirdre Mackey and her daughter, Grace Misztal, two beloved members of the AFT-Oregon family, were tragically lost on December 25, 2017, but their commitment to justice lives on. At the 2018 AFT-Oregon Convention, members unanimously approved a resolution to establish two social justice scholarships in honor of Deirdre and Grace.
The post-secondary scholarships in the amount of $1,500 each, will be awarded annually to members of a marginalized community and/or those who demonstrate that their studies will work to advance the cause of social justice and the ending of discrimination - just as Deirde and Grace worked to do for their entire lives. One scholarship will be available to AFT-Oregon members and the other available to a member’s dependent. They will be awarded alongside existing scholarships at the AFT-Oregon Convention.
“I named Deirdre after the Irish saint, St. Deirdre the Wanderer,” said Linda Bradley, the mother of Deirdre and grandmother of Grace, “and wander she did.” Deirdre attended The Interlochen School for the Performing Arts, The University of Miami, and UCLA, where she perfected her singing voice, engaged in women’s studies, and refined her immense musical talents in an effort to help others through the power of song. When her voice became weakened, she sought out new ways to help others, ultimately earning a Master’s Degree in Counseling from Lewis and Clark College.
Degree in hand, she spent several years working with drug and alcohol addicted patients, including those who were incarcerated. As it often does, the work took a toll on her spirit, so she accepted a position with AFT-Oregon as a Program Coordinator and Financial Specialist.
“She became a new person, working with people who had a common goal in mind,” Linda said about Deirdre’s time at AFT-Oregon. “She loved her coworkers, and the work she was doing. You all brought back her great smile!” Colleagues were glad to have her in the office, too. "She was warm and caring, always willing to help at a moment's notice," said David Rives, AFT-Oregon President. "She was a skilled project manager and all-around talent. She was our friend."
Her daughter Grace was with her every step of the way, often slipping into the AFT-Oregon office at the end of a work day to say hello to staff and members. An extremely bright and talented young person, Grace was a sixth grader at Lake Oswego Junior High School. She excelled in academics and was a talented artist who loved sloths. Her teachers described her as a selfless person who would always help her classmates, clearly following in the footsteps of Deirdre.
“She was young, but she was so insightful,” her grandmother Linda shared. “Her favorite quote was: ‘When life gives you lemons, give them back and ask for chocolate!’”
Grace would have turned thirteen on August 5, 2018. Her family celebrated with pizza, ice cream, and chocolate cake.