Open, collaborative, curious

July 17, 2015 · by Alvarez Porter Group · Filed Under Choices, Lives of Leaders · Leave a Comment

Elizabeth Bunn



In her current role as Organizing  Director of the AFL-CIO, through two terms as Secretary-Treasurer of the UAW and throughout her career, Elizabeth Bunn has been blazing a trail for women leaders and women’s rights in the labor movement.  Organizing non-traditional workers into unions and fighting for work-family issues has been a top priority.


  1. What are three words that best describe your leadership?

Open, collaborative and curious

  1. What are you best at?

Finding solutions by trying to understand the opposition’s perspective; never surrendering

  1. What is the most important thing you do?

Be a mother and a friend

  1. What do you know to be true about leadership?

Leadership is values at work all the time

  1. What is your earliest memory of injustice?

When I was in 5th grade, an African-American family bought a house in my all-white neighborhood and neighbors sought to exclude them. I was proud that my parents wouldn’t participate in these efforts.

  1. What traits do you possess that are typical for your family?

Honesty, adherence to values even in the face of opposition

  1. What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the strong, diverse, capable teams I have been able to build. I am also proud of the organizing victories in higher education and of bargaining innovative contracts that advance work-family balance.

  1. What are you afraid of?


  1. What is the last thing that made you really angry?

The murders in Charleston, SC

  1. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

There are so many things I work to change but I try to be as forgiving of myself as I try to be of others.

  1. What is the best advice you ever got?

In life: Take risks—live without regret; In the movement: when armed with full information, workers will always make the right decision

  1. What failure or success taught you the most?

It’s important to remember that social movements are built on small defeats along the way and to persevere in the face of defeat. Over time, I have learned the profound wisdom of the Martin Luther King, Jr. quote: “the arc of moral history is long but it bends toward justice”.

  1. How would you like to be remembered?

As honest, unselfish, collaborative and unafraid to confront power


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