Council logoIn Memoriam - Steve Young, Executive Director

The Council suffered a terrible loss this past weekend when Steve Young, Executive Director of the Council, passed away suddenly on March 3, 2019 at age 71.  He was hired by the Council in 2003 as “Managing Staff Representative” and, in recognition of his excellent service, assumed the Executive Director title in 2011.

In addition to supervising the Council staff of five, consisting of three staff representatives, an organizer and an office manager, Steve played an integral role in contract negotiations and administration. He prepared surveys for the membership, developed and drafted negotiations proposals, and attended virtually every negotiations session, where, as a member of the Council negotiating team, he skillfully advocated for the Council at the bargaining table.  In between negotiations, he monitored compliance with contractual provisions requiring the institutions and the State to provide pertinent records and information.  He also edited the Council VOICE of Higher Education.  Steve’s computer skills and business acumen were invaluable in updating office technology.

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In furtherance of the Council’s legislative agenda, he often met with state legislators and coordinated with the State AFL-CIO, and other state employee unions on issues of common concern.  

When the Council moved its offices in 2006, Steve managed the entire process. Reflecting his abiding commitment to the future of the Council, he recently negotiated reductions in rent and business costs to help the Council maintain financial stability. 

Council President Tim Haresign relied on Steve as an advisor, confidante and resource person.  “Steve’s wisdom and his years of experience in union leadership have been an invaluable asset to the College Council.  Those of us who were lucky enough to get to know him came to rely on his sage advice and came to love his warm, easygoing manner and unique sense of humor. I stepped into this job after the sudden and tragic loss of our previous president Nick Yovnello. It was Steve’s guidance that got me, and our Union through our first year after that loss, and for that I am forever grateful.  His passing creates an absence, both professional and personal, that we will never completely fill.”

Steve was an exemplary union man his entire working life.  As a teacher at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, he joined the American Federation of Musicians, became local president and conducted a successful fight for union recognition.  From 1995 to 2001, he was the President of the American Federation of Musicians, consisting of 250 locals and 110,000 members in the US and Canada. There are photos on his office wall showing Steve shaking hands with then President Clinton and renowned singer, actor and social activist Harry Belafonte. He was most proud of a framed United Farmworkers Flag autographed by Richard Chavez, Cesar Chavez’s younger brother, thanking Steve for support rendered by the American Federation Musicians.

Steve was known for his kindness, sense of humor and congeniality. He took his job seriously without taking himself too seriously. He made many friends among Council leadership and delegates, New Jersey and National AFT colleagues and other union activists nationwide who will miss him dearly.

As an avid outdoor enthusiast, he loved hiking in his home state of New Mexico and biking the mountain trails of northern NJ.  He was also a talented amateur nature photographer.   And by the way, he was a great drinking buddy after Council meetings, negotiations and AFT conferences. We raise our collective glasses to his memory!

Steve leaves behind his sisters Kelly, Shelly and Terrie, his son Oliver, his daughter-in-law Gina, his dear companion Martha and his precious granddaughter Audrey, who gave him so much pleasure in the last year of his life.  

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that well-wishers consider donating to MusiCares - a safety net for musicians ( or the New Jersey Audubon Society (


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