Patricia A. Ford is the founder and principal of DeElla & Associates, LLC. Founded in 2007, DeElla & Associates is a political strategy and labor relations consulting firm that provides campaign strategy, political and public relations services to an array of clients.
Ford has devoted more than three decades to advocacy and organizing of working people through the labor movement and civic participation. She served as the Special Assistant to the President for Civic Affairs of the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO from 2005 to 2007 and was Campaign Director of Unity ’04, a massive nationwide voter registration/voter mobilization drive coordinated by the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. Their efforts helped generate unprecedented African American voter participation in the 2004 Presidential Election, registering over 100,000 new voters.
Ford’s new endeavor encompasses a life-long commitment to the labor movement coupled with her passion for justice and equality for all people. She was elected International Executive Vice President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in 1996 and reelected in 2000. She was one of the highest-ranking African Americans in a North American union and among the most influential black women in the labor movement. Ford headed SEIU’s government affairs program and coordinated its civil and human rights activism.
Raised and educated in Oakland, California, Ford began her career as a union activist while working as a clerical worker at Alameda County’s Highland Hospital, where she led a successful effort to affiliate the union with SEIU as Local 616. In 1978, she became the first African-American woman elected as president of Local 616, and she later served as the local’s executive director. Under her leadership, the local helped 6,000 Alameda County home care workers organize to receive better pay and benefits.
While at Local 616, Ford served as the lead negotiator in bargaining the first domestic partner benefits extended to any group of workers not only in Alameda County, but in the U.S., and an unprecedented pay-equity agreement that addressed the issue of pay disparity among women and minority workers.
Under her leadership, SEIU broke with labor’s traditional stance and charted an independent course in politics—one based on the needs of working people, not simply “party politics.” During her tenure, SEIU expanded their local union state councils from 6 states to 21 states. She built an army of Member Political Organizers where 10,000 rank & file activists participated in the 2000 general election and 20,000 rank & file members were on the ground in 2004.
Ford is a leader in civil and human rights as well. During her tenure at Local 616, the local developed and hosted the first SEIU-sponsored Civil and Human Rights Conference. The International Union expanded these conferences to all regions of the U.S. This led to the establishment of eight regional caucuses within SEIU-the African-American, Native Americans, Asian-Pacific Islander, Latino, Women, Seniors and Retirees, Lavender (gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender), and Disabilities caucuses and two National caucuses, The Caucus of African Descent of which she is a founder, and The Lavender Caucus. Ford didn’t stop there, at the SEIU 2000 Convention Ford brought a Social & Economic Justice resolution which called for the adoption of a Social & Economic Justice Program to be adopted at the 2004 Convention and, in the November 2002 Collector’s Edition, Essence Magazine listed Ford as one of “Fifty Women Who Are Shaping The World”.
Ford served on the Democratic National Committee from 1997 to 2005. She is a former member of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, the Alameda County Alliance For Health, the global justice organization TransAfrica Forum and the FUTURE PAC, a black Women’s political action committee where she was a founding member. Ford is a member of the board of the Congressional Black Caucus Education, Training And Leadership Institute (CBCI) where she served as the chairperson of the Debate Committee that planned and produced the historic 2008 CBCI Presidential Debate in Myrtle Beach, North Carolina and oversees the annual CBCI Political/Education Boot Camp. Ford also serves on the Boards of the Walter Reuther Library at Wayne State University, the Women’s Leadership Forum of the Democratic National Committee, the National Black Caucus of States Institute, SCLC WOMEN and the National Board of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.
Patricia A. Ford has one son, Andre, four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.