2021 Labor Forty Under 40

March 10, 2021  
5:00PM - 6:00PM
Event Description

For the second year, City & State honors 40 talented individuals under the age of 40 who work in New York’s labor sector. Rising Star members have already distinguished themselves in the eyes of their colleagues and are on their way to amassing many more noteworthy accomplishments. We will celebrate our winners this year with a virtual event on March 10th starting at 5pm with speakers, guests and recognition of all 40 of this year’s winners.

Wayne Spence
President, New York State Public Employees Federation
Wayne Spence was born on the island of Jamaica. At the age of 10, he immigrated to the United States, and has called the New York City area his home ever since. Wayne was re-elected as President of the Public Employees Federation in June 2018, and was sworn into office on August 1, 2018, for a second three-year term. During his 28 years in state government working as a parole officer, Wayne has been very active in the Public Employees Federation. Before being elected PEF’s first African-American president in June 2015, he held numerous leadership positions in the union, serving as a PEF Vice President, Shop Steward, Division Health and Safety Chair, Executive Board Member, Long Island Political Action Co-Chair and Assistant Council Leader of Division 236 (DOCCS/Parole) for several years. He currently serves on the executive boards of AFT, SEIU and the New York State AFL-CIO; these commitments give him direct access to our international unions, which in turn allows PEF to benefit in the form of immediate communication and leverage for federal issues. President Spence also serves on New York State Comptroller DiNapoli’s Advisory Council (NYSLRS) and on the AFT Nurses & Health Professionals Program Policy Council. Under Wayne’s leadership, the union negotiated not one, but two successful contracts that included across-the-board raises and no givebacks for the membership. Wayne is known as a leader who demands the union and the state follow through on mandates, especially for member health and safety and community safety issues. He helped change parole policies to ensure that pregnant officers were not required to place themselves and their unborn children at risk by executing felony warrants, and secured state management action to install metal detectors after incidents of violence with weapons had occurred. Wayne graduated from a top public school, The Bronx High School of Science. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the New York Institute of Technology. During his time in college, he was known as a student leader and respected for his passionate advocacy for the student body. He founded the NYIT/Central Islip Campus Caribbean Society in 1996. Wayne is a certified Police Firearms instructor and Instructor Evaluator. He is also a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, and sits on the First Baptist Church of Freeport Trustee Board. Wayne is happily married and the proud father of three children.
Pat Kane
Pat Kane
Executive Director, New York State Nurses Association
Barbara Bowen
President, Professional Staff Congress
A professor of English at Queens College and the Graduate Center of The City University of New York (CUNY), Bowen taught for fifteen years before becoming president of the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY. A scholar of 17th-century English literature and African-American studies, Bowen earned her Ph.D. at Yale and has published numerous works in her field. Throughout her academic career, she also worked in progressive political movements and as a labor organizer. Bowen’s election as president of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) in 2000 was as part of a collective of faculty and staff with deep roots in progressive politics. The PSC represents 25,000 faculty members and professional staff at CUNY and the CUNY Research Foundation. Bowen began her union career when an assignment as a VISTA volunteer turned into an effort to organize 800 tobacco pickers in the Connecticut River Valley. She also spent several years as a community organizer. In addition to her position as an AFT vice president, Bowen is a member of the NYSUT board of directors and the executive board of the New York City Central Labor Council.
Kyle Bragg
President, 32BJ SEIU
Louis A. Picani
President & Principal Officer, Local 456 I.B.T.
Louis A. Picani has been a dedicated Union member since he joined Teamsters Local 456 over 30 years ago. His natural leadership ability quickly emerged and enabled him to be appointed Shop Steward for the City of Yonkers Department of Public Works in 1992. In 1994, Mr. Picani became a Trustee of the Teamsters Health and Welfare Fund. Mr. Picani was elected as a Teamsters Local 456 Trustee and appointed as a Teamsters Local 456 Business Agent in 2005. For many years, Mr. Picani has been a member of Joint Council 16’s New York Teamsters Political Action Committee. He is also a licensed drug and alcohol counselor. In 2016, Mr. Picani was elected President and Principal Officer of Teamsters Local 456. He also serves as Vice President of the Westchester Putnam Central Labor Body. Louis A. Picani was awarded the NY AREA Chairman’s Award in 2016 for his dedication to men and women of Labor and his tireless advocacy for New York’s energy needs. In 2017, Mr. Picani’s efforts were recognized and he was elected as the Grand Marshall for the annual City of Yonkers Columbus Day Parade, in recognition of honoring Italian-American Heritage. In April of 2018, Mr. Picani was awarded the prestigious Golden Lion Award by the Order Sons of Italy in America Grand Lodge of New York. This award is given to those who are recognized in their fields for their outstanding accomplishments and contributions to their communities. In September of 2018, City and State Magazine recognized Mr. Picani as an esteemed labor leader, naming him as one of the Top 50 Most Powerful in Westchester. Mr. Picani was also awarded with Westchester County Democratic Committee Anthony J. Tocci Sr. Labor Award in June of 2019, for his service and dedication to the American Workforce. In 2019, Mr. Picani was also recognized by the New Rochelle Calabria Society for his commitment to the community, supporting local programs and causes, and for his unselfish and dedicated service. As of 2019, Mr. Picani holds the position for Director of Political Affairs for the Westchester Putnam Building Trades and Construction Council. Mr. Picani has spent his entire career as a visionary, fighting for workers’ rights, fair wages and benefits, workplace safety, and the right to organize.

Welcome & Introduction By Jeff Coltin, Senior Reporter, City & State NY



Barbara Bowen, President, Professional Staff Congress
Pat Kane, Executive Director, New York State Nurses Association
Wayne Spence, President, New York State Public Employees Federation
Louis A. Picani, President & Principal Officer, Local 456 I.B.T.
Kyle Bragg, President, 32BJ SEIU


Recognition of the Labor 40 Under 40! 


Session Concludes

Silver Sponsors