Innovative Labor Leader

Amy Dean’s roots are in one of our country’s largest and oldest social institutions, the American Labor Movement. The New York Times called Amy Dean “the labor movement’s chief navigator, its Christopher Columbus in the roiling and uncharted seas of the new economy.” Her work as a regional innovator and national labor leader helped revolutionize the work of this key employee organization.

Called “the most innovative figure in California’s Silicon Valley,” Dean served as president and CEO of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, and was the youngest person and first woman to lead a major AFL-CIO labor federation.

Using a innovative new organizing model – The Think Act Tank - that brought together business, community organizations and the labor unions, Amy transformed the small Silicon Valley based Labor Council into a dynamic engine for social and economic change in the region.

Dean’s ability to negotiate among competing interests to transform these storied institutions prompted International AFL-CIO President John Sweeney to tap Amy to lead a national team of her peers to retool and reposition the role of labor at the regional level. She led this effort for more than seven years.

Dean continues to be called upon by labor organizations across the country and around the world for advice about meeting the new challenges facing labor and industry and to build a dynamic new model for engagement in economic and social progress.

Drawing on a wide array of successes in growing progressive social change organizations, Amy co-authored with David B. Reynolds, “A New, New Deal: How Regional Activism Will Reshape the American Labor Movement.” A best seller for Cornell University Press, the book outlines a bold plan to revitalize American labor activism and build a sense of common purpose between labor and community organizations. Dean and Reynolds outline a concrete strategy for building power at the regional level. They demonstrate how alliances organized at the regional level are the most effective tool to build a voice for working people in the workplace, the community, and the halls of government.