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Longtime FEA Attorney Richard Tarr Named FEA Interim Executive Director/General Counsel

Replacement for Retiring Staff Member Also To Be Sought

posted January 21, 2020

Following the retirement of H.T. Nguyen at the end of 2019, longtime FEA Deputy General Counsel Richard Tarr has accepted an appointment to the position of Interim Executive Director/General Counsel for FEA. As such, Richard will serve as the primary legal advisor to the FEA President and Board of Directors and help to shape our Association's legal practices and policies. Richard will also oversee the operation of FEA's Washington DC office and its staff and serve as the Association's liaison and point of contact with our parent organization, the National Education Association (NEA), on staff issues and support the FEA President with policy issues with the NEA.

Richard began working for FEA as a staff attorney in 1999. Over the years, he has taken on increasing responsibilities within the Association. He has helped to negotiate innumerable agreements with DoDEA management over his career with FEA and is currently serving as the primary legal counsel to the contract bargaining team for FEA's Overseas (Pacific and Europe) bargaining unit. Richard has provided legal support to the General Counsel of the FEA-Stateside Region during that bargaining unit's contract negotiations and its ongoing dispute over DDESS's illegal contract implementation on FEA-SR bargaining unit members. In addition, Richard has worked extensively with other federal unions through groups such as the Federal Workers Alliance on issues that extend beyond the scope of FEA, such as the fight in the early 2000s in opposition to the DOD's planned National Security Personnel System (NSPS) and the current legal battle against illegal Executive Orders issued by the White House, seeking to diminish employee rights and civil service protections.

Richard's experience and thorough knowledge of the legal issues facing FEA members worldwide make him uniquely suited to fill the seat left behind by H.T. Nguyen and the FEA Board thanks Richard for his willingness to occupy this Interim position.

Replacement for Connie Shanaghan

One of Richard's first assignments in his new role will be to hire a new staff person for the FEA Washington DC office to help fill the void that will be left behind in the near future with the retirement of FEA Director of Administration Connie Shanaghan.

As many of you know, Connie is retiring this winter after 30-plus years of service to the Association and its members. The Association is extremely grateful to Connie for her years of service, in which she served as coordinator of numerous NEA programs such as grants, conferences, membership enrollment and benefit programs. Connie also helped to coordinate the financial and business operations of the Association's Washington DC office in her role as Director of Administration. And, of course, to many Overseas bargaining unit members, Connie has been THE source of information and expertise on transfers and excess placements over the years.

The FEA Board of Directors approved funding a replacement for Connie as part of the SY 19-20 budget approved at its November meeting (that budget can be found on the FEA Governance page). The new position is expected to be a one-year, interim position that will allow for a reorganization of the FEA Washington DC office staff. Because of the breadth of services performed by Connie, it would be impossible to find a single person with the knowledge and experience to replace her. For that reason, the new staff position will take on some of Connie's duties (others will be absorbed by the remaining DC staff members) while also taking on additional functions as a number of staff duties are reshuffled. It is the desire of the FEA Board that the new hire will also help to expand the services and program offerings the Association makes available to members.

It is worth pointing out that, in line with the desires of FEA's three Area Directors to retain more funding within their respective Areas, the appointment of Richard Tarr as Interim Executive Director/General Counsel and the hiring of an interim staff person to help transition following Connie Shanaghan's departure will result in a significant reduction in the personnel costs of the FEA Headquarters office this year and in subsequent years. As always, the FEA Board seeks to be a good steward of its members' dues and reduce costs wherever possible, without reducing services to our members.

The Association once again thanks H.T. and Connie for their years of service and thanks Richard for his willingness to take on his new responsibilities at a time when outside forces are working harder than ever to tear our Union apart. Our challenges remain many; these personnel changes will help the Association continue to confront those challenges while providing better value to each individual member.