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John Connolly Will Step Down as AFTRA
National President to Direct Actors’ Equity

Radio Host Bob Edwards to Assume Duties of President

NEW YORK (February 6, 2007) – John P. Connolly will step down as National President of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists in March to become National Executive Director of Actors’ Equity Association, it was jointly announced today by AFTRA and Equity. AFTRA First National Vice President Bob Edwards—host of the “Bob Edwards Show” on XM Satellite Radio—will assume the duties of the President until the next AFTRA National Board meeting.

“The energy and passion John demonstrated as AFTRA National President on behalf of actors, recording artists, journalists, and broadcasters working in the media and entertainment industries—combined with his commitment to the principles of organized labor—will serve him well in his new role as Equity National Executive Director,” said Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, AFTRA National Executive Director. 

Connolly will officially start as National Executive Director for Actors’ Equity on March 19, 2007.

In accepting the appointment from Actors’ Equity, Connolly said, “I am humbled by the confidence and responsibility bestowed upon me by Equity’s National Council and I pledge to serve our members with all my heart and soul. The decision to step down as President of AFTRA was difficult and heart-wrenching. I will forever cherish the gift of trust AFTRA members shared with me in electing me their President three times.”

Reflecting on the two unions, Connolly observed, “The remarkable truth about both Equity and AFTRA is that each union is prepared and poised for a brilliant future. Our elected leaderships and staff are clear-eyed professionals, who are unafraid to face change, and eager to embrace the future of our arts.”

Connolly was first elected in 2001 as National President of AFTRA—the 70,000-member union that represents actors, newscasters, announcers, singers, dancers, comedians, and other professionals who work across the media and entertainment industries in television, radio, sound recordings, music videos, commercials, and new media. He is also a Trustee of the $2-billion AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds.

Connolly currently serves on the AFL-CIO General Board and as Vice President of the 840,000-member Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.  In 2007, Connolly was appointed to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco's Economic Advisory Council to provide observations and opinions to San Francisco Reserve Board and management on the present state of the economy, and the developments in the entertainment and media industries. 

Connolly studied history at LaSalle University and was awarded a fellowship and a master’s of fine arts from Temple University’s School of Communications and Theater. June 2006 marked his 35th anniversary as a professional actor on stage, screen, television, radio, commercials, and sound recordings.   

Under AFTRA’s Constitution, Bob Edwards, who currently serves as AFTRA First National Vice President, will assume the duties of the President until the next plenary session of the AFTRA National Board. Roberta Reardon, currently AFTRA New York Local President and AFTRA Second National Vice President, will become the second highest elected officer of the union.

“With Bob Edwards at the helm and the support of the entire AFTRA leadership team, I know AFTRA will be in excellent hands as AFTRA members continue to move together,” said Connolly. 

Edwards, who can currently be heard on the “Bob Edwards Show” on XM Satellite Radio and “Bob Edwards Weekend” on PRI, hosted National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" for 25 years, attracting more than 13 million listeners weekly. He joined NPR in February 1974 as the network's only newscaster, and then became co-host of NPR's evening news magazine, "All Things Considered," until 1979 when he helped launch "Morning Edition."

Edwards is among the most distinguished journalists in broadcasting and has won the duPont-Columbia Award for radio journalism. In 1999, he and "Morning Edition" received a prestigious Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting. The Washington, DC, based journalist also received the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for outstanding contributions to public radio, and was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2004.  In 2006, Edwards won his third Gabriel Award from the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals.  He has received an AFTRA Media and Entertainment Excellence (AMEE) Award from AFTRA, and also serves on the board of the Albert Shanker Institute. 

The AFTRA National Board will meet in plenary session at the end of April, at which time under the rules of its constitution, the National Board will confirm an appointee to serve out the remainder of the President’s term, which expires in July. AFTRA is scheduled to hold its national convention July 19-21 in Philadelphia, celebrating its 70th Anniversary, at which time all 12 officers of the national union will be elected by the delegates to the convention.  


CONTACTS FOR Actors' Equity Association:

Maria Somma, Spokesperson
212.869.8530, ext 425
917.560.3488 (cell)

David Lotz, National Director of Communications
212.869.8530, ext. 410

To download the announcement from Actors’ Equity or a photograph of John Connolly, go to