Elissa McBride

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Elissa McBride

Elissa McBride is an AFSCME official. She is Director of Education and Leadership Training. McBride lives in Maryland with Damon Silvers.

Elissa McBride is secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, which represents 1.6 million workers. She was elected by acclamation by the International Executive Board in March 2017.

McBride joined the labor movement as a member of the United Auto Workers District 65 in 1989. In 1991, she was recruited to the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute, a new initiative to expand the ranks of union organizers and grow the labor movement. During her years as an organizer, she worked with factory workers to form unions and win first contracts in North Carolina, Texas, Ohio, Vermont and Rhode Island. One-on-one communication, workplace power and direct action were critical to those victories and remain central to her philosophy of trade unionism.

Those early successes led McBride to become the New England organizing director for the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers and later to direct the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute training program. At the AFL-CIO, she trained hundreds of community activists and organizers to build power in their workplaces by reaching workers one-on-one and moving them to take collective action.

McBride joined AFSCME as the director of the Education and Leadership Training Department in 2001. In this position, she has used interactive teaching methods to prepare union members, leaders and staff to lead the labor movement into the future and become more effective champions for equality, justice and dignity on the job.

She led the creation of AFSCME’s Leadership Academy, which includes programs to help AFSCME leaders build strong local unions through strategic planning and team building; to inform members about how the union works through online classes; and to equip senior staff and elected officers to lead the union in challenging times.

She also played a key role in creating AFSCME’s Faces and Voices training program, which gives librarians, health care workers, school bus drivers and other AFSCME members the tools to be effective communicators for the union. In the Faces and Voices classroom, members tell their stories of providing public services in communities across the country and develop those stories into powerful messages to co-workers, politicians and the public.


Elissa McBride October 28, 2018 ·


I spent a great weekend getting out the vote for pro-worker candidates with leaders from AFSCME Council 65 - Minnesota, North Dakota & South Dakota and AFSCME Council 5. Here is a photo of some awesome women leaders getting ready to head out on the doors. We are motivated and mobilized because #MidtermsMatter! — with Serena Vergin and Cherrene Horazuk.

DSA Youth Organizer

Elissa McBride was Democratic Socialists of America Youth Organizer from 1987 to 1989.[1]

DSA Feminist Commission

In 1990, Amy Bachrach, from New York, Elissa McBride, from Washington DC, and Sara Stoutland (editor), were contacts for the Democratic Socialists of America Feminist Commission. [2]

Midwest Academy

McBride first attended Midwest Academy in1990

My first encounter with the Midwest Academy was as a trainer for the U.S. Student Association. I had been working as a full time student organizer for two years when I was asked to become a GROW (Grassroots Organizing Weekend) trainer for USSA. About 12 of us got the amazing opportunity to spend a week with Jackie Kendall and Steve Max learning to teach a student-oriented and somewhat condensed version of the Midwest Academy curriculum. It was a major turning point for me as an organizer and as a trainer.
My favorite memories include the amazing feedback I got from Steve and from my peers when I had the chance to practice teach the training modules. I loved the informal evening conversations about organizing, and I'll never forget Jackie's stories about Saul Alinsky, the history of direct action organizing, and the formation of the Academy.
Soon after that transformational week, I attended the full Midwest Academy training with Kim Bobo and Steve as my trainers. The snapshots in my mind from that experience include morning singing led by Kim, Steve's emotional telling of the story of the Hollywood blacklist before showing us "Salt of the Earth," and a late night conversation about the UMWA strike at Pittston with some union organizers Kim had invited to join us.
Soon after I graduated from the Academy, I became a full time organizer for the labor movement. I was a member of the UAW District 65 in my organizing job at NARAL, and a friend persuaded that me to become a union organizer. I have been in the labor movement ever since, first as an organizer and now as an educator.

The Midwest Academy gave me two incredible gifts that I am still grateful for. First, the Academy gave me the skills to teach others how to organize. Every training program I conduct in AFSCME includes the basic organizing lessons that are at the core of the Midwest Academy training: that people are willing to take action on issues when they are directly affected by them, and that people will do amazing things if they are asked. Second, the Midwest Academy training gave me a theoretical framework for the knowledge I had gained as a front line organizer. I especially appreciate the clear understanding of the relations of power that I gained from the Academy. The steps of a one-on-one recruitment conversation and the strategy chart are hard wired into my memory.
I use the strategy chart all the time. In fact, when I first came to AFSCME I went to my supervisor (another Midwest Academy family member named Paul Booth) and suggested that we add an exercise to our steward training curriculum that would incorporate the lessons of the strategy chart.
Back in 1991, when I was first working as a union organizer, I helped a group of nursing home workers plan and execute a "march on the boss." A group of them went to the director's office during shift change and demanded that he recognize their union. Of course, he refused. But the impact of the event was amazing because the workers had a face to face confrontation with the person who had the power to give them what they wanted. That night, I wrote a letter to Steve telling him about my first direct action organizing experience with the union. It was not a new tactic for the union or for the labor movement, of course, but my training at the Academy helped me understand how to pull it off and why it was a powerful tactic.
I feel lucky to have a job doing what I love: helping union activists develop the skills and knowledge they need to strengthen their organizations, build political power, and organize new members.[3]


From 1989 to 1991, McBride was national organizer for the NARAL Campus Project[4]

National Leading From the Inside Out Alum

Elissa McBride, Director of Education and Leadership Training, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, (AFSCME), was a 2008 Rockwood Leadership Institute National Leading From the Inside Out Alum.[5]

Hosting Elizabeth Warren


State Senator Jamie Raskin announced a visit by Elizabeth Warren to Maryland, April 21, 2012,, to be held at the home of his friend Damon Silvers.

District 20 is the progressive Democratic heartland of Maryland so it makes sense that the sensational progressive Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, is coming to visit us here tomorrow! Please join me and true-blue Democrats from all over our community and state in giving Elizabeth Warren a rousing Maryland welcome tomorrow, Saturday, April 21, between 2:00 and 3:30 pm at the home of my friend Damon Silvers, a key force in the labor and consumer movement, in Takoma Park. We have the opportunity to give a big financial boost to Elizabeth's campaign, which is essential to holding the U.S. Senate and taking back Congress in November. Join us!
As you know, Elizabeth Warren is America's passionate champion of the struggling middle class and has proven herself time and again willing to fight against corporate fraud and the capture of government by predatory special interests. The populist thinker who came up with the idea for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, she has done more to advance the cause of consumers and workers over the last decade than anyone else in America. Imagine what she can do in the U.S. Senate seat held by Teddy Kennedy when she beats Scott Brown![6]


  1. Democratic Left, July/August 1991, page 2
  2. Democratic Left, Jan./Feb. 1990, page 13
  3. MidWest Academy profile, accessed may 2013
  4. Democratic Left, July/August 1991, page 2
  5. [1]
  6. [https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!topic/mcprogressivealliance/X2Inae8JLVQ, Google groups, Montgomery County Progressive Alliance › Tomorrow! Elizabeth Warren in Mont County!Mike Hersh 21/04/2012From: Senator Jamie Raskin <senatorja...@gmail.com>,Date: Fri, Apr 20, 2012]