Mayo-Kelley jumped into union life with both feet, when she experienced a toxic work environment as a legal technician with the Department of Housing and Development in Alaska. She led a campaign to organize secretaries, housing specialists, realty specialists, and IT technicians into the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).
“Becoming part of AFGE led to significant changes in our work environment. We became a strong, united voice and learned how valuable collective action can be.”
She found union work rewarding. And after serving as chief steward for AFGE, in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, she accepted a field representative position with the Public School Employees of Washington (PSE), SEIU Local 1948. She spent 15 years with PSE, and was promoted to Director of Organizing. During her time there, she caught the attention of leaders of SEIU national, for an innovative training program she developed for member leaders and activists.
“The training program was centered around helping members to become the best voice of their union. When leadership reviewed the program and asked if they could have a copy – I was overwhelmed that my training had made such an impact on them.”
In her next position, she tried working on the employer’s side as a Labor Relations Specialist in the Bureau of Reclaimation, in Idaho, but found it was not a good fit for her experience.
“I quickly learned that I prefer being on the side of labor. I missed the interaction with members and advocating and getting them excited about finding their voice. That’s what drives me,” said Mayo-Kelley.
She said she’s excited about the opportunities her new position as AFT-Oregon Field Representative brings. “I love the variety of members AFT represents, both classified and professional staff, from child care through higher education,” she said. “I look forward to helping members to strengthen their Locals.”