Leadership

SARA NELSON
International President
Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO
(She / Her)

Sara Nelson has served as the International President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO since 2014, and she is currently serving her second four year term. She first became a union member in 1996 when she was hired as a Flight Attendant at United Airlines and today she represents 50,000 of aviation’s first responders at 17 airlines. The New York Times called her "America's most powerful flight attendant" for her role in helping to end the 35-day Government Shutdown and InStyle Magazine placed her on their Top 50 Badass Women list.

Sara is has led AFA to some of the most consequential legislative wins in the union’s history, including COVID relief that totaled $54 billion in payroll support to keep aviation workers connected to their jobs, paychecks, healthcare, and other benefits for 16 months - and kept the industry from collapse in the midst of the biggest crisis it has faced since the beginning of aviation. It was historic #WorkersFirst legislation that also prohibited furloughs and hourly paycuts for the frontline while banning stock buybacks, dividends and capping executive compensation for 2 years after the relief period ends. AFA and other transportation unions used the effective bipartisan supported program to encourage emergency relief in December 2020 to recall aviation workers to their jobs after funding had lapsed in October, and to ensure 12 million more people were not pushed into poverty and states and cities could continue to utilize COVID funding for critical local services and public sector jobs. Prior to the COVID crisis, legislative victories include increasing required federal minimum rest for Flight Attendants, a reversal of national security policy to keep knives and other weapons off planes, and a campaign for "100,00 Eyes in the Skies," which successfully resulted in mandatory training for Flight Attendants to recognize and report human trafficking. Sara also served on the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force as co-chair of the Economy Task Force with Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), during the 2020 Presidential Election. 

As international president, Sara serves as the Chief Spokesperson and Administrator of the union to further the objectives and policies set by the Board of Directors comprised of locally elected Flight Attendant leaders. The international president oversees the union’s professional staff in Legal, Collective Bargaining, Government Affairs, Communications, AFA-EAP/Professional Standards, Air Safety, Health and Security, and Organizing. Her union position is full-time, but she remains a qualified Flight Attendant. 

Sara has served as a leading voice on issues facing women in the workplace and across the country, encouraging women everywhere to "Join Unions, Run Unions." Sara highlighted aviation safety and security risks during the longest government shutdown in U.S. history and called for a Labor to discuss conducting a General Strike, while preparing for a Flight Attendant strike against unsafe conditions. In addition to the New York Times and The Financial Times, Politico, Roll Call, Conde Nast Traveler, Fast Company, CBS Sunday Morning, Inc. Magazine, the Washington Post, Rolling Stone, The Cut, Forbes, Jacobin, Bizwomen, 48 Hills, InStyle Magazine, The Guardian, The Nation, The New Republic, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Salon, Splinter, In These Times, Corvallis Advocate, Strikewave, The Points Guys Podcast, and State of the Unions Podcast have featured her work. Fast Company featured Sara on the cover of their Summer 2021 magazine. A sample of her op-eds include The New York Times, Vox, USA Today, The Atlantic, In These Times, Fortune (April 2020), Fortune (August 2020), and NBC News

Sara’s previous union posts include serving as AFA’s international vice president from January 2011-May 2014, several local officer positions in Boston, national strike chair, and national communications chair at the United chapter.

Sara is passionate about AFA's continued mission to achieve fair compensation, job security, and improved quality of life for aviation's first responders as well as a safe, healthy and secure aircraft cabin for passengers and crew alike. She believes Flight Attendants can play a pivotal role in strengthening the Labor Movement with more public contact than almost any other job and access to every corner of the earth.

In the broader Labor Movement, Sara serves as a member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, the Communication Workers of America Executive Board, the Transportation Trades Department Executive Board, the Labor Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy, and the International Transport Workers Federation Civil Aviation Steering Committee. She has received the prestigious Jones-Blizzard Award from the United Mine Workers of America, the AFL-CIO MLK Drum Major for Justice Award, the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award from Jobs with Justice, the National Consumers League Trumpeter Award, Women’s March Spotlight Award, and Massachusetts Teachers Association Friend of Labor Award. 

Sara grew up in Corvallis, Oregon and earned a bachelor's degree from Principia College with majors in English and Education. She resides in the DC area with her husband, David Borer and son Jack.

 

KETURAH JOHNSON
International Vice President
Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO
(She / Her)

Keturah Johnson is a 35 year old queer woman of color, combat veteran from Piedmont Airlines. Keturah served as Piedmont AFA Local Council 61 President and Master Executive Council President. 

Keturah had a love for flying since about the age of 5. She traveled with my family between the U.S. and Kenya where she lived for 17 years. It was a ‘must-do’ in her family… to travel the world and immerse ourselves in new cultures and experiences. Although traveling had always been a part of Keturah's life, she often wondered how she would be able to actually afford or get paid to travel. Then, in 2013 – it happened. Keturah was hired by Piedmont Airlines, a wholly owned regional of American Airlines, as a ramp agent. After 5 years of below wing service, she moved to the Inflight Department and became a Flight Attendant. Now this felt more like where she belonged!

Keturah is a Combat Veteran, so to be of service is second nature to her. It was a no-brainer to get involved with our union AFA-CWA and run to serve as the MEC President of AFA Local Council 61. During my time as MEC President, she led our fight to improving the lives of Piedmont Flight Attendants. Keturah is proudest of Piedmont AFA's most recent contract negotiations and securing a historic 100% vote to strike if negotiations didn’t reach a conclusion soon. After four years and the WORST crisis our industry has ever faced, Piedmont Flight Attendants ratified a new contract! Through our unwavering solidarity, we were able to win.

Now, she's begun a new part of her career as a union Flight Attendant. Keturah began her term as AFA-CWA International Vice President on the first day of #Pride month, making her the first Queer Woman of Color and Combat Veteran elected to serve in the role. It is an honor to represent so many and work to make these spaces not just safe, but supportive for all people, including immigrants, trans people, Black and Indigeonous people, and the LGBTQIA+ community, so that every person that AFA represents has a voice. She looks forward to getting to know all of Aviation’s First Responders across the industry!

DANTE HARRIS
International Secretary-Treasurer
Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO
(He / Him)

Dante Harris is a New York native raised by his father and stepmother. His father was a Bus Driver and Union Shop Steward for the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU). From an early age, Dante was surrounded by talk of grievances, pay disputes, and the vigorous labor movement in America. That is where his passion for union activism was born. Dante’s stepmother was a manager for Verizon (New England Telephone, New York Telephone, NYNEX, etc.) who worked on the opposite side of the table from CWA. He grew up listening to both sides of an argument - Union & Management. It is what made him the unyielding yet balanced Union activist he is today. He can see every side of an issue and propose practical solutions for settlement. However, when management was obstinate, Dante developed his skill of articulate debate and compelling argument formation.

“Unwav Dante” is his entire first name. Unwav comes from the word, Unwavering. His mother gave him that name because he was born weeks after her due date. His mom said he had unbendable perseverance and strong determination, hence the name “Unwav Dante.” It was his childhood experiences that developed and shaped who he would become today and helped him realize his place in the world would belong in the labor movement.

Dante has been a United Airlines Flight Attendant for more than 2 decades. He got involved with the Union soon after being hired. He served on many committees at his local council and went on to be Local Secretary for Council 11 in San Francisco. After nearly 7 years, he transferred to Los Angeles Council 12 where he served on several committees and eventually was elected to 4 consecutive terms as the Council 12 President representing Los Angeles, San Diego, and Seattle based Flight Attendants.

Dante spent 10 years on national CWA Committees such as Finance Committee (Chair), Next Generation Committee (Chair), and Constitution Committee. In July 2019, Dante became first AFA-CWA Sector Representative to be elected to the International CWA Executive Board. He served in the At-Large Diversity Seat for the Western Region until June 2022.

In addition to serving on the AFA-CWA Board of Directors for over a decade, Dante served over 10 years on AFA international standing committees such as Strategic Planning and Finance.

Dante has received recognition in the Los Angeles labor community and all over the country. In 2018, he was the recipient of the Congresswoman Maxine Waters Trailblazer Award presented by the Los Angeles Inner City Youth Foundation at the Unsung Heroes Leadership Awards.

In May 2022 at the 49th AFA-CWA Board of Director’s Meeting, Dante Harris became the first minority to ever be elected to the position of AFA-CWA International Secretary-Treasurer. Diversity within our Union is extremely important as our background and experiences are important for building power in the organization and the labor community.

Dante is a member of the CWA Minority Caucus and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU). Additionally, he is a graduate of the CWA Minority Leadership Institute. All his responsibilities and experience have been integral to the broader labor movement, coalition building, and creating a stronger voice for our profession as Aviation’s First Responders.

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