Our union’s Executive Board is elected from members like yourself. As fellow employees at the Department of Education and members of the bargaining unit, we are committed to improving all of our living and working conditions. Meet our team below.
Sheria Smith, President
Sheria is an attorney for the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in Dallas. Born and raised in Gary, Indiana, Sheria hails from a family of proud members of the United Steel Workers. She graduated from Harvard University and The University of Texas School of Law. Before she joined OCR, Sheria was a fifth-grade teacher (and member of the Texas Classroom Teachers Association), clerked for two federal judges, and spent six years practicing employment and commercial litigation for private local and international law firms. Sheria joined OCR in November 2016 and joined AFGE in January 2017 at her first AFGE meeting. She served as the local president of former Dallas Local 3897, acting president of Local 252, and is part of Texas AFL-CIO Ruth Ellinger Labor Leaders class. She believes it is important for all bargaining unit employees to join together to maintain a workforce that will ensure that the Department of Education performs its stated mission in a manner that benefits all citizens.
Edward James, Executive Vice President
Edward is a management analyst and program officer in Partner Participation and Oversight, Federal Student Aid at the Department of Education headquarters in Washington, D.C. He was born in Arizona and has lived in several states and countries as he is the proud product of a diverse military family. Edward graduated from Bowie State University and attended New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M. Edward has a background in Equity Assistance, Acquisition Management and evidence-based practices with a concentration in K-12 education. Edward is also a Ward 6 Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) Commissioner for the District of Columbia where he serves on the commission for Persons with Disabilities. He was appointed by the Mayor of Washington, D.C. in October of 2018. Edward joined the Department of Education and AFGE in January 2015. He believes in transparency, empowerment, educating and equipping employees with tools. Edward hopes that through his service to the union, more employees will become aware of their rights in the workplace and the importance and benefits of union membership.
Jacob Griffith, Treasurer
Jacob is an attorney at the Office for Civil Rights, Washington D.C. regional office (Metro). He was born and raised in Los Angeles. He graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara and then earned a dual degree at the University of Southern California’s law school and public policy school. Jacob joined AFGE in 2014 while working at the Social Security Administration, where he advised Administrative Law and Administrative Appeals Judges on disability benefit claims. He became more involved with AFGE as a steward and Corresponding Secretary for Local 3615 from 2018 to 2019, when he joined the Department of Education. Jacob served as Secretary for Local 252 from 2020-2022.
Elizabeth Nolan, Secretary
Liz is an Education Research Analyst at the Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance. She is a lifelong Chicagoan, and currently works in the Chicago Regional Office. She earned her Master of Public Policy degree in Education Policy from Vanderbilt University. Liz grew up in a family of union activists, and saw firsthand how strong unions can protect workers’ rights. She joined AFGE because she believes in the power of her colleagues to fight for fair workplaces and stand up for one another, in good times and bad. Through her union involvement, Liz aims to empower her colleagues through education about their labor rights, and ultimately, ensure a strong federal education workforce that benefits all.
Brittany Coleman, National (Chief) Shop Steward
Brittany is an attorney for the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in Dallas. She is originally from Central Arkansas but grew up in the Dallas area. Brittany graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in political science and earned her juris doctor degree from Cornell Law School. Before joining OCR, Brittany worked as an in-house attorney at a life insurance company and as a staff attorney and director at two healthcare accounts receivable companies. During her time in the private sector, she saw how important union representation was for protecting the rights of hardworking employees and how vulnerable employees could be without union representation. Brittany joined OCR in July 2019 and AFGE shortly thereafter. She volunteers with organizations throughout the Dallas area because she believes in helping others have a fair shot to live up to their full potential. Brittany hopes that her work with AFGE will help her fellow Department of Education employees have fair working conditions so that they can reach their full professional potential and help the department continue to carry out its mission of ensuring equal access to education for our nation’s students.
Tashell Jenkins, Regional Vice President – East
Tashell Jenkins has 10 years of experience working in education and unionized environments. During that time, she has served as a service provider to K-12 students with disabilities, a union member, an administrator for a city public school and a state university system, and an employee-rights advocate and litigator advocating for the civil rights of her clients. She serves as commissioner for her local civil-rights commission and volunteers in her local school district and church. In each of these roles, her focus has been to let her light shine by loving on people, treating people with dignity, honor, and respect, and getting to know people by meeting them where they are. She is a zealous advocate and fierce protector of right and wrong. She has been shaped by her experiences and is grateful for the opportunity to serve others.
Val Fields, Regional Vice President – West
Val currently works as a Senior Guarantor and Lender Review Specialist for the Financial Institution Oversight Service (FIOS) Group within Federal Student Aid. She is originally from Norman, OK, and currently resides in the Dallas area. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma and earned a Bachelor of Art degree in Journalism and a Master of Education degree in Higher Education Administration. Val had worked at various higher education institutions before transitioning to the Department of Education in August of 2010. While serving in various roles in higher education, Val saw a need to help underserved and underrepresented populations navigate and understand the affordability of the various higher education institutions in our communities while trying to obtain a higher education degree. She became a member of AFGE shortly after starting with FIOS. Before transitioning to her new role as the Western Regional Vice President, she served as a Steward for Local 252. As an Executive Board member she hopes to continue to support her fellow bargaining unit employees and union members and continue to speak up, support and advocate for fair, equal and necessary treatment of all.