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Awards & Honors

Cogen winner Ellie Engler all about ‘selfless sacrifice’

New York Teacher
Cogen Award winner Ellie Engler accepts the honor.
Miller Photography

Cogen Award winner Ellie Engler accepts the honor.

Ellie Engler doesn’t wait for a crisis to strike: She sees it coming, develops a plan and quickly gets everyone on board to deal with it.

The recipient of the Charles Cogen Award, the UFT’s highest honor, at Teacher Union Day on Nov. 7, Engler is an industrial hygienist by trade. She began working with the UFT in 1988 as a consultant and went on to lead the union’s Safety and Health Department, creating its Health and Cancer Helpline and the Member Assistance Program. She also served for 15 years as the union’s co-director of staff, helping oversee about 700 staff members with a compassionate and personal connection.

She retired in 2018, but then returned to the union to lead the effort to protect UFT members’ health and safety during the pandemic.

“Whenever there’s a need, she is there,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said in introducing Engler. “For Ellie, it’s always been about that selfless sacrifice.”

Ely Trachtenberg Award winners from the Elementary School Division were recognized for their strong and vibrant chapters. right: Staff Director Anthony Harmon, the event’s master of ceremonies, welcomes members and their loved ones to the event.
Miller Photography

Ely Trachtenberg Award winners from the Elementary School Division were recognized for their strong and vibrant chapters.

In January 2020, when COVID-19 was not yet on most people’s radar, Engler called Mulgrew to tell him, “You have to quarantine a teacher just back from China, and you have to get to the Department of Education about this.”

Two months later, as the mayor argued that schools must remain open even as the virus made inroads in the city, Mulgrew said Engler told him, “We have to close the school system or there will be a huge loss of life.”

School buildings shut the following week.

Then Engler helped ensure every school’s safety as buildings reopened in September 2020. “We were talking about ventilation before that was in the news,” Mulgrew said.

AFT President Randi Weingarten, the former UFT president, recalled working with Engler on previous health crises, such as asbestos and toxic PCBs in schools. She remembered how after 9/11 Engler worked to find alternate locations for schools in the World Trade Center area and helped ensure decontamination work was done in each affected building.

“I don’t know how I would have been president of this union without Ellie Engler,” Weingarten said, praising Engler’s wealth of knowledge, members’ trust in her and her access to many levels of government. “You don’t know how many hours she works to help all of us.”

Staff Director Anthony Harmon, the event’s master of ceremonies, welcomes members and their loved ones to the event.
Miller Photography

Staff Director Anthony Harmon, the event’s master of ceremonies, welcomes members and their loved ones to the event.

Among her other contributions, Engler encouraged the UFT to lobby for a 9/11 compensation fund and then successfully tracked down affected members who worked at 22 schools near the World Trade Center to get them the medical and financial assistance they needed.

In accepting the Cogen Award, Engler thanked her family and her union family.

“You mean the world to me. You make me who I am,” Engler said. “This is not my award, it’s our award. We did this together.”


Teacher Union Day 2021

Image
A man is standing at a podium speaking to an audience. A sign behind him reads "Family, that's what we are!"
UFT President Michael Mulgrew greets the in-person attendees at the UFT’s 2021 Teacher Union Day, its premier fall event.
Miller Photography
Image
A woman with glasses is speaking at a podium while raising her hand, a man watches in the background.

Ellie Engler accepts the union’s highest honor, the Charles Cogen Award, as UFT President Michael Mulgrew look on.

Miller Photography
Image
A man wearing all purple stands at a podium and addresses an audience.

Staff Director and Assistant to the President Anthony Harmon addresses the members who attended Teacher Union Day in person.

Miller Photography
Image
A woman gives a speech to a crowd.

Tina Puccio accepts the Jules Kolodny Award.

Miller Photography
Image
A man with a white beard and glasses is singing into a microphone.

Sean L. Blanks sings the National Anthem.

Miller Photography
Image
Five family members pose for a group photo, all wearing masks.

Sidney Harris Award Winner Kerry Yefet (second from right) with her family.

Miller Photography
Image
Eight people pose for a group photo, all wearing masks.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew (left) with Marsh/Raimo honorees (from left) John Franzeze, Katherine Lewis, Zelideth Diaz-Hatch, Karen Davis, Anne Wine, Gregory Monte and Raphael Tomkin.

Miller Photography
Image
Four people pose for a group photo, all masked. The two people on the right are holding awards.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew (left) and Vice President for Non-DOE Members Anne Goldman (second from left) present Howard Sandau (Federation of Nurses/UFT) and Cynthia Bennett (School Nurses) with the 2021 Heart of It All Awards, which they accepted on behalf of all the members in both chapters.
Miller Photography
Image
11 people, all masked pose for a group photo at the stage. 9 of the people have awards in their hands.

(From left) Staff Director LeRoy Barr and UFT President Michael Mulgrew with Albert Lee Smallheiser honorees Joseph Witzter-Surpris, Daniel Rodriguez, Alain Metellus, Susan Perez, Seung Lee, Mitchell Klages-Bombich, Matt Kirwain, Patricia Crispino and Leo Gordon.

Miller Photography
Image
Three people pose for a group photo, all masked. The man in the middle is holding an award.

Jamel Holmes (center) receives the Audrey Chasen award from UFT Vice President for Education Mary Vaccaro and UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

Miller Photography
Image
A woman with a pink striped shirt speaks at a podium.

Jackie Bennett speaks to the crowd after receiving the 2021 David Wittes Award.

Miller Photography
Image
Five people pose for a group photo, all masked.

(From left) Trachtenberg recipient Joyce Baldino, AFT President Randi Weingarten, IS 383K teacher Winifred Guillame, and Raimo/Marsh winners Zelideth Diaz and Gregory Monte mask up for a group photo.

Miller Photography
Image
Eight people pose for a group photo, all wearing masks.

Ely Trachtenberg Award winners from high schools pose with UFT President Michael Mulgrew, Vice President for Academic High Schools Janella Hinds (third from left) and UFT Vice President Leo Gordon (right).

Miller Photography
Image
10 people get together to take a group photo on the stairs. They are all masked.

The Trachtenberg Award winners from middle schools pose with Vice President for Middle Schools Richard Mantell (center).

Miller Photography
Image
A group of members all wearing masks pose for a photo.

Sean Wine (left) and Marsh/Raimo award recipient Anne Wine (second from left), with AFT President Randi Weingarten and UFT Staff Director Anthony Harmon.

Miller Photography
Image
A woman points out to the crowd showing a man something.

PS 157X Chapter Leader Jessica McDonnell, a Trachtenberg honoree, points out something in the crowd to UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

Miller Photography
Image
Jamel Holmes accepts the Audrey Chasen Award. 

Jamel Holmes accepts the Audrey Chasen Award. 

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Image
A man is standing at a podium speaking to an audience. A sign behind him reads "Family, that's what we are!"
UFT President Michael Mulgrew greets the in-person attendees at the UFT’s 2021 Teacher Union Day, its premier fall event.
Miller Photography
Image
A woman with glasses is speaking at a podium while raising her hand, a man watches in the background.

Ellie Engler accepts the union’s highest honor, the Charles Cogen Award, as UFT President Michael Mulgrew look on.

Miller Photography
Image
A man wearing all purple stands at a podium and addresses an audience.

Staff Director and Assistant to the President Anthony Harmon addresses the members who attended Teacher Union Day in person.

Miller Photography
Image
A woman gives a speech to a crowd.

Tina Puccio accepts the Jules Kolodny Award.

Miller Photography
Image
A man with a white beard and glasses is singing into a microphone.

Sean L. Blanks sings the National Anthem.

Miller Photography
Image
Five family members pose for a group photo, all wearing masks.

Sidney Harris Award Winner Kerry Yefet (second from right) with her family.

Miller Photography
Image
Eight people pose for a group photo, all wearing masks.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew (left) with Marsh/Raimo honorees (from left) John Franzeze, Katherine Lewis, Zelideth Diaz-Hatch, Karen Davis, Anne Wine, Gregory Monte and Raphael Tomkin.

Miller Photography
Image
Four people pose for a group photo, all masked. The two people on the right are holding awards.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew (left) and Vice President for Non-DOE Members Anne Goldman (second from left) present Howard Sandau (Federation of Nurses/UFT) and Cynthia Bennett (School Nurses) with the 2021 Heart of It All Awards, which they accepted on behalf of all the members in both chapters.
Miller Photography
Image
11 people, all masked pose for a group photo at the stage. 9 of the people have awards in their hands.

(From left) Staff Director LeRoy Barr and UFT President Michael Mulgrew with Albert Lee Smallheiser honorees Joseph Witzter-Surpris, Daniel Rodriguez, Alain Metellus, Susan Perez, Seung Lee, Mitchell Klages-Bombich, Matt Kirwain, Patricia Crispino and Leo Gordon.

Miller Photography
Image
Three people pose for a group photo, all masked. The man in the middle is holding an award.

Jamel Holmes (center) receives the Audrey Chasen award from UFT Vice President for Education Mary Vaccaro and UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

Miller Photography
Image
A woman with a pink striped shirt speaks at a podium.

Jackie Bennett speaks to the crowd after receiving the 2021 David Wittes Award.

Miller Photography
Image
Five people pose for a group photo, all masked.

(From left) Trachtenberg recipient Joyce Baldino, AFT President Randi Weingarten, IS 383K teacher Winifred Guillame, and Raimo/Marsh winners Zelideth Diaz and Gregory Monte mask up for a group photo.

Miller Photography
Image
Eight people pose for a group photo, all wearing masks.

Ely Trachtenberg Award winners from high schools pose with UFT President Michael Mulgrew, Vice President for Academic High Schools Janella Hinds (third from left) and UFT Vice President Leo Gordon (right).

Miller Photography
Image
10 people get together to take a group photo on the stairs. They are all masked.

The Trachtenberg Award winners from middle schools pose with Vice President for Middle Schools Richard Mantell (center).

Miller Photography
Image
A group of members all wearing masks pose for a photo.

Sean Wine (left) and Marsh/Raimo award recipient Anne Wine (second from left), with AFT President Randi Weingarten and UFT Staff Director Anthony Harmon.

Miller Photography
Image
A woman points out to the crowd showing a man something.

PS 157X Chapter Leader Jessica McDonnell, a Trachtenberg honoree, points out something in the crowd to UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

Miller Photography
Image
Jamel Holmes accepts the Audrey Chasen Award. 

Jamel Holmes accepts the Audrey Chasen Award. 

UFT President Michael Mulgrew addresses the first hybrid Teacher Union Day gathering in Shanker Hall.

Courage in ‘a moment of great danger’

The courage and hard work of members during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic was recognized on Nov. 7 at the UFT's annual Teacher Union Day celebration, held in Shanker Hall at UFT headquarters in Manhattan and online via Zoom.