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Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities.

Record Number Of Women In Local Labor Leadership

Meeting with some of Rockford United Labor's leadership.

Last week a record number of women were sworn into leadership roles at Rockford United Labor. 



Sara Dorner, a local labor representative for AFSCME Council 31, made history by being elected the first female president of Rockford United Labor. But she says women aren’t new to the picket line. 


“We've always been here, this is nothing new. We're just happy you're seeing us now,” said Dorner. 


Rockford United Labor is one of the AFL-CIO’s 500 central labor committees and many of the labor unions across the Rockford region are a part of the organization. Dorner is coming off her two-year term as the vice president of the organization. 


Alongside Dorner, Sandra Patlan and Christina Magee were also elected to trustee positions on Rockford United Labor’s executive board. Patlan is part of the Rockford paraprofessionals union, Local 692. She says she’s excited to see what she can accomplish with her colleagues. 


“Being part of this union is just like, it's a big door opening, not just for me but for others that can’t speak for themselves, whether it's in the workplace place or in the community,” Patlan said. 


This is the largest cohort of women to ever be elected to the organization's executive board in its 66-year history. And not only does this mark the first woman president, but Patlan is also the first Latina woman elected to a leadership position at RUL, which represents 20,000 union members in the Rockford region.


  • Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project which is a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms.
Juanpablo covers environmental, substandard housing and police-community relations. He’s been a bilingual facilitator at the StoryCorps office in Chicago. As a civic reporting fellow at City Bureau, a non-profit news organization that focuses on Chicago’s South Side, Ramirez-Franco produced print and audio stories about the Pilsen neighborhood. Before that, he was a production intern at the Third Coast International Audio Festival and the rural America editorial intern at In These Times magazine. Ramirez-Franco grew up in northern Illinois. He is a graduate of Knox College.