Leadership changes underway at FEA

TALLAHASSEE — After two years as president of the Florida Education Association, Fedrick Ingram officially steps away today, Sept. 1, from his role in the state organization to become secretary-treasurer of the 1.7-million member American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

“This is a bittersweet moment for me. It’s hard to leave my leadership role in FEA and the state I love,” Ingram said. “But I leave Florida’s educators and students in good hands, and I’m excited about my new role at AFT and the work that this band teacher will take to a larger stage. In every forum I will always be proud to say I am a Florida educator and member of the Florida Education Association.”

Ingram plans to relocate with his family to the Washington, D.C., area for his new nationwide role. This will be the first time that an FEA member/leader has ever held one of the top three offices with either national affiliate, AFT or the National Education Association (NEA). AFT election results were announced today, with Ingram elected as secretary-treasurer.

Ingram was elected to the FEA presidency in 2018 to serve a three-year term. There are clear succession plans laid out in the organization’s governing documents to ensure a smooth transition if a leader leaves office early. 

Vice President Andrew Spar now becomes president, and Secretary-Treasurer Carole Gauronskas becomes vice president. The next FEA elections will occur in 2021. In the interim, a new secretary-treasurer will be selected.

The organization’s new president and vice president look forward to building on all that their leadership team and FEA members have accomplished.

FEA President Andrew Spar: “Fedrick is a great friend and colleague who is going to do great work at the national level. His leadership style was such that the transition here will be seamless. FEA will continue to grow in size and influence. I am honored to be able to represent the dedicated and talented professionals who make up Florida’s PreK-12 and higher education systems.”

FEA Vice President Carole Gauronskas: “I am exceptionally proud to be an advocate for the 150,000 members of the Florida Education Association and for the 2.8 million children in Florida’s public schools. It has been an honor and a privilege to work beside Fedrick Ingram and Andrew Spar. As Fed rises to the national level, I know our advocacy here in Florida will continue, and we will work hard for all of the members in our organization.”

Ingram, Spar and Gauronskas ran for office as a team in 2018 and have led the union as a team. One of their primary accomplishments has been in moving the FEA toward very active and engaged advocacy on behalf of students, public schools and educators. FEA has seen substantial growth to membership in the past two years, and now stands about 150,000 strong.

Along with union leaders and members statewide, the FEA leadership team in 2019 launched the Fund Our Future campaign to improve public education funding after more than a decade of disinvestment in our schools. That campaign reached a high point on Jan. 13, 2020, when about 15,000 educators and education stakeholders gathered at the Capitol to Take on Tallahassee in a rally that helped force state officials to fund an increase for teacher pay.

Since the pandemic struck, the statewide union has taken a leading role in advocating for the safety and wellbeing of everyone in our public schools.

Fedrick Ingram

Ingram grew up in inner-city Miami and attended public schools. Pursuing his love of music, he attended Bethune Cookman University on scholarship and became the first member of his family to earn a post-secondary degree, in music education.

He would go on to be a music teacher and band director in Miami-Dade public schools for 10 years, winning Miami-Dade County Teacher of the Year in 2006.

In May 2013, he was elected president of the United Teachers of Dade (UTD). In 2015, he was elected vice president of the FEA, then became president in 2018. While in FEA leadership, he also served as an elected vice-president of the AFT Executive Council.

In addition to his bachelor’s degree from Bethune-Cookman, Ingram earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from Barry University and holds an honorary doctorate of humane letters awarded by Florida Memorial University. 

He is married to Yvetta Ingram, and they have three children, all of whom have attended public schools.

Andrew Spar

The new president of FEA was born and raised in the suburbs of New York City, attending public schools. A violinist since age 6, he earned his bachelor’s degree in music education from Ohio State University, graduating in 1994. That same year, he came to Daytona Beach to teach at Turie T. Small Elementary School, where more than 90 percent of the students lived in poverty. The music teacher soon found his voice as an advocate and has worked ever since on behalf of public school students, schools, teachers and education staff professionals.

At Turie T. Small, Spar served as school-improvement chair for two years and as a union steward for seven years. He would go on to become president of his local union in May 2003 and led Volusia United Educators until he was elected FEA vice president in 2018.

Throughout his career, Spar has served on committees and taskforces for the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). He also spent eight years on the Executive Cabinet of the FEA and has served on the Executive Board of the Florida AFL-CIO, becoming the organization’s secretary-treasurer in January 2016.

Spar is married to Vernell Spar, who is also a public school music teacher. The Spars have two daughters, and both girls attend public schools.

Carole Gauronskas

FEA’s new vice president was the first education staff professional to be elected as an officer of the FEA, and previously worked as an exceptional student education (ESE) paraprofessional at Ketterlinus Elementary School in St. Augustine, Fla.

Gauronskas was born in Cortland, N.Y., and attended public schools in Florida, New Jersey and New York before entering The Berkeley School of New York to earn a business degree. Gauronskas began a career in banking in New York City, then met her future husband on a business trip and moved to Michigan to begin married life in 1986. She worked her way from opening a large convention center hotel to 10 years with La-Z-Boy Inc. In 1998, her husband was transferred to Florida, and the family moved to St. Augustine.

Gauronskas came to Ketterlinus Elementary School in 2000 as a parent, serving initially as a volunteer. She wore many hats at the school: volunteer coordinator, newsletter editor, Title I liaison, computer lab instructor and, for nine years, ESE paraprofessional. In 2008, Gauronskas was the School Related Employee of the Year at Ketterlinus.

She served as an advocate for the members of the St. Johns Educational Support Professional (ESP) Association for several years, first as a school representative and beginning in May 2015 as local union president. Gauronskas has held leadership positions on numerous councils and teams within her school district and union, and has given many hours as a church and community volunteer. In 2018, she received FEA’s Educational Support Professional of the Year award. In October 2018, she was elected secretary-treasurer of FEA.

Gauronskas and her husband, David, have one son. Adam is a graduate of St. Johns County public schools.

CONTACT: Joni Branch, joni.branch@floridaea.org

The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest association of professional employees, with 150,000 members. FEA represents PreK-12 teachers, higher education faculty, educational staff professionals, students at our colleges and universities preparing to become teachers and retired education employees.

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