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Press Release – ATEK Elects First President

September 17, 2009

PRESS RELEASE

Association for Teachers of English in Korea

(Busan, South Korea) — In its first national election, the Association for Teachers of English (ATEK) has elected Greg Dolezal president.  Dolezal joined the association in March and became involved in leadership right away.  He helped the Gyeongnam Provincial Association become the first local to join the national association.  From April, he also acted as communications director for ATEK.

“I’m excited to continue serving English teachers in my new role as president,” said Dolezal, who will serve a one-year term. “This first year is critical to our organization’s ability to grow and be successful in the future. My goal is to create lasting partnerships with the government and other national organizations.”  Stephanie White, the other presidential candidate, campaigned energetically and attracted new members to the association. Her efforts helped raise awareness of ATEK and provided members with a real alternative.

“Both Greg and I were qualified candidates,” said White. “We both have strong organizational skills, established networks with embassy personnel among more than one embassy, and held previous leadership roles in both national and international organizations. This was a win-win election for ATEK. I’m happy to have been a part of the process and I look forward to a year of ATEK with Greg at the helm.”

The election took place online and was administered by an election committee appointed by the recently formed national council.  Members had a chance to ask questions directly of the two candidates on the forums. Additionally, Jeff Lebow of koreabridge.net hosted a podcast debate, moderated by Jeffrey O’Connor, chair of the election committee.

“I’ve received about 750 e-mails since the nomination period began,” said O’Connor. “I haven’t been getting much sleep.” In August, Tom Rainey-Smith, a founder of ATEK, stepped down as acting president to allow the association to select its first democratically elected leader.

“The association was fortunate to have two such qualified candidates. I’m confident that with Greg as president, the association will expand and flourish over the coming year,” said Rainey-Smith.

Since launching in March, ATEK has attracted nearly 1,000 members across South Korea and has prompted the formation of seven local teachers’ associations. Members use the website http://atek.or.kr to discuss their ideas and to organize with other teachers.

Dolezal, 34, is a U.S. citizen and a public school teacher in Gimhae, outside Busan in Gyeongnam Province.  He has a master’s degree in journalism, and has experience both as a high school teacher and as a political organizer in the U.S.

ATEK has made headlines recently over of its complaint to the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) over discriminatory HIV and drug testing practices by Korean immigration, and a complaint to the Korean Press Ethics Commission (KPEC) about a negative bias against ex-pat teachers in the media.

Dolezal says that he doesn’t see advocacy and human rights work as ATEK’s top priority in the coming year, though he acknowledges that members are concerned about these issues.  “We will certainly be paying close attention,” said Dolezal. He stated that his first priority is to “increase membership, elect local leaders, and to have systems in place in every province to provide basic services to members.”

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