Mary Cathryn Ricker

Mary Cathryn Ricker

Executive Vice President
American Federation of Teachers

Mary Cathryn Ricker is the executive vice president of the American Federation of Teachers. She was overwhelmingly elected to that position in July 2014 at the AFT’s biennial convention in Los Angeles. Prior to that, from 2005 to 2014, Ricker served as president of the Saint Paul (Minn.) Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 28. She became an AFT vice president in 2012 and has been a member of the AFT Teachers program and policy council since 2006. 

As president of the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers, Ricker pioneered the concept of bargaining for the common good, addressing contract language such as citizenship leave and a school nurse for every child, and she championed innovative, teacher-built solutions that improve teaching and learning as well as strengthen public education. These include the union’s alternative teacher recruitment and licensure program, CareerTeacher; a full-spectrum peer assistance and review program; site-based school redesign and governance; a parent-teacher home visit project; comprehensive professional development; PSRP pathways to teaching and dedicated PSRP professional development; and meaningful community engagement as the union’s work. 

In addition to being a National Board Certified middle school English teacher, Ricker also serves on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards board of directors. Her teaching and leadership skills have been recognized with a number of other honors, including receiving the Education Minnesota Peterson-Schaubach Outstanding Leadership Award, qualifying as a semifinalist for the NEA Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence, and serving as a contributor in the Annenberg Foundation’s professional development series “Write in the Middle.” 

A native of Hibbing, Minn., Ricker has taught in classrooms in St. Cloud and St. Paul, Minn.; Camas, Wash.; and Seoul, South Korea. As a member of the AFT’s Democracy Committee, she has represented the AFT and the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers abroad in Finland, Germany and the Middle East. 

Ricker serves on the Education Minnesota governing board and is the past president of the Education Minnesota Foundation for Teaching and Learning. She has also served as a member of the boards of TakeAction Minnesota, the Saint Paul Regional Labor Federation, the Saint Paul Public Schools Foundation and Twin Cities GenerationNext. In 2012, Ricker was selected to co-chair the Minnesota Department of Education Teacher Evaluation Work Group, and she has served on the department’s Education Finance Working Group. 

National boards on which Ricker currently serves include United Way USA, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, the AFLCIO Department for Professional Employees and the Albert Shanker Institute. 

Ricker is currently on leave from the Saint Paul Public Schools, where her husband teaches English language learners and which her two children have attended.