The 2021 Elaine Tzourtzouklis Service to Association Award was presented to UEA Director of Policy and Research Jay Blain for his demonstrated outstanding service to the Association in the areas of member advocacy, political action, leadership, collaboration and coalition building throughout his career as an educator, association leader and UEA staff member. The award was presented at the UEA/KeyBank Superstars in Education Banquet in October 2021. UEA General Counsel Tracey Watson presented the award and made the following comments:
“In the spirit of our beloved Elaine Tzourtzouklis, Jay Blain demonstrates that he is a true believer in the power of the Association. He is a fierce advocate for UEA staff, for UEA members and for the Association. He also shares Elaine’s positive disposition and keen sense of humor.
“At the end of October 2020, and still in the middle of the COVID pandemic, the UEA found itself remote working and soon to be without an Executive Director. Contemplating best next steps, UEA governance found the answer sitting right before them and appointed Jay as interim Co-Deputy Executive Director along with Heather Shepherd. These two extraordinary, mild mannered, humble, hard-working, dedicated employees knew all that needed to be done and were more than capable of leading the staff and the Association through a transition period.
“When approached, Jay never blinked or questioned the assignment. He never asked about specific duties or extra hours or even compensation. Jay just stepped up and into the position. He demonstrated outstanding loyalty to the Association, above and beyond anything anticipated and did exactly what Elaine Tzourtzouklis would have done. ‘Sweetheart…’ Elaine would have said, ‘just forward the phones over here, I’m not leaving this desk.’
“Jay works with UniServ Directors and local association leaders on bargaining, negotiation of policies, local member crisis, and general advice and counsel. He is also a member of the UEA legislative team where he works directly with legislators and makes specific recommendations to the UEA president.
Prior to joining the UEA, Jay was a math teacher in Granite School District. There he served as an Association Representative, a member of the Negotiations Team, on the District Insurance Committee, as an Executive Board Member, Vice President, and finally President of the Granite Education Association. He spent 5 years on the UEA Resolutions Committee, 6 years on the NEA Resolutions Committee and attended the NEA Representative Assembly as a delegate 15 times. He served on the Membership Council and the Board of the Utah Retirement System. He was a member of Utah State Board of Education Trust Land Advisory Council, the PTA Special Needs Committee, the Family Investment Coalition, and several other special task forces and committees.
“If there were anyone deserving of this award, carrying forth the spirit of Elaine, it is Jay Blain. He is most certainly a true believer in the power of the Association and a fierce advocate for staff, members and the Association.”