Gabrielle Carteris has been elected president of SAG-AFTRA by the union’s national board of directors. The former star of Beverly Hills, 90210 had been serving as the union’s acting president since Ken Howard’s death on March 23. A longtime union activist, she’d been the union’s second-ranking officer – EVP – since the merger of SAG and AFTRA in 2012, which she helped orchestrate. Prior to the merger, she’d been the president of AFTRA’s Los Angeles Local and also served as a member of SAG’s national board of directors.
Carteris replaces Howard, who was the first elected president of the merged SAG-AFTRA, as well as the first president of either SAG or AFTRA to die in office. Prior to the merger, only three women – Kathleen Nolan, Patty Duke and Melissa Gilbert – had served as presidents of SAG, and three – Virginia Payne, Shelby Scott and Roberta Reardon – had served as president of AFTRA.
As EVP under Howard, Carteris had assumed his duties until Saturday’s regularly scheduled national board meeting. She has been elected to serve the balance of Howard’s unexpired term, which expires in 2017. Rebecca Damon was elected to replace Carteris as EVP.
“I am deeply honored to be chosen by the SAG-AFTRA National Board to serve the union and its members as president,” said Carteris in a statement. “Ken was a great union leader, friend and mentor. He left big shoes to fill, but with the support of the national board of directors and the membership, I am committed to improving the lives of all SAG-AFTRA members.”
After the merger, Carteris was elected EVP at the inaugural SAG-AFTRA Convention in 2013, and was reelected last October, both times running as a member of Howard’s Unite For Strength slate of running mates. Unlike the union’s president and secretary-treasurer, who are elected directly by members, all eight of the VPs – including EVP– are elected by delegates to the convention, a holdover from AFTRA’s method of governance.
In October, she won re-election with 79% of the delegate votes, defeating challenger Patricia Richardson, who two months earlier lost the presidential race to Howard.
“I congratulate Gabrielle Carteris on her election as president of SAG-AFTRA,” said SAG-AFTRA national executive director David White. “Gabrielle and I have worked closely together for many years, including most recently on the successful commercials contracts negotiations. I know she understands the needs and aspirations of our members and I am excited to work with her to continue advancing the goals of this union. I also congratulate Rebecca Damon on her election as Executive Vice President. She is a deeply experienced and effective leader who will work with President Carteris and the national board to engage and empower members throughout the country.”
Damon’s election win puts all three of the union’s top elected posts in the hands of women. A SAG board member from New York, she is a working actor and voice-over performer who chairs two of the union’s national committees – the Government Review Committee and the Member Outreach Relations & Education Committee.
“It’s an honor to serve our members and I’m grateful for Gabrielle’s trust and the support of my colleagues,” Damon said. “As executive vice president, I will continue working to expand SAG-AFTRA’s reach and to increase opportunities for members across the country. Following the peerless example of our beloved late president, Ken Howard, we will focus on member outreach to maximize the solidarity and bargaining strength of our remarkable union.”
Carteris’ recent acting credits include guest-starring roles on Criminal Minds, Make It Or Break It, The Event, Longmire, The Middle, a new Web series called Send Me, and the holiday television movie 12 Christmas Wishes. In 2011, she appeared as herself on Celebrity Ghost Stories, recounting how the spirit of her grandfather had helped her during a difficult time in her life.
She’s also been involved in numerous charitable organizations, including DARE, the Noxzema Extraordinary Teen program, MADD, Read to Grow, Best Buddies and the Sky’s The Limit Fund.