William McNary, the influential public interest activist and co-director of Citizen Action/Illinois, has been named by the Illinois Education Association (IEA) as its 2017 Friend of Education.

McNary was recognized for the honor on Saturday (4-1-17) at the annual Representative Assembly of the IEA. Some 1,200 delegates, guests and state dignitaries attended the event at the Sheraton Grand Chicago.

Among many other initiatives, Citizen Action/Illinois is known for its work advancing worker rights and in support of quality public schools for all students. In addition to his work with Citizen Action, McNary is legislative chair of the Responsible Budget Coalition and serves on the board of directors for the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.

“William McNary is one of our state’s treasures,” said Cinda Klickna, president of the IEA.  “His name is synonymous with the fight for fair taxation and fair tax policy, equal rights, utility and insurance rate reform, environmental safety and protecting consumers from unfair predatory loan practices. He is a fighter for children and for fair funding for all public schools. He believes in our mission to make quality public education available for every child. He inspires all who know him with his energy and devotion to a better future for Illinois.”

McNary was one of the founding members of Health Care for America Now!, the largest national grassroots health care coalition which led to the passage of the Affordable Care Act. He has been appointed by two Illinois governors, the Illinois attorney general, Cook County board president and other state constitutional officers to serve on several state boards, task forces and transition teams.

The Friend of Education Award is awarded annually. The IEA is the state’s largest organization of school employees, representing more than 135,000 members.