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UTUIA Board of Directors

Officer Directors

John Previsich
North Olmsted, Ohio

John Previsich is the president of the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, formerly the United Transportation Union. He is a member of Local 31 in San Jose, Calif. Previsich began his railroad career with Southern Pacific Transportation Company, where he commenced work as a train service operations employee in San Francisco, Calif. He later transferred to engine service and achieved certification as both a railroad conductor and locomotive engineer. Previsich started doing work as a local union officer in the mid-1980s. Thereafter, he moved into a system-wide position as a general chairperson in the early 1990s, followed by his election to International vice president in 2007. He was re-elected in 2011, elevated to the position of assistant president in 2012 and assumed the responsibilities of the general secretary and treasurer position on Jan. 1, 2013. He was elevated to the position of president effective Oct. 1, 2013. During the course of his career, Previsich has advocated on behalf of his members in mergers and consolidations in the rail and airline industries, 13(c) transactions, divestitures, national and local contract negotiations and countless arbitrations and mediations, securing and defending collective bargaining agreements on properties large and small.
Having a special interest in transportation-industry safety issues, Previsich is the SMART Transportation Division representative on the Federal Railroad Administrationís Rail Safety Advisory Committee and has served on numerous subcommittees associated with RSAC. In addition, he is a cabinet-level appointee to the National Freight Advisory Committee, a group that reports directly to the secretary of transportation on MAP-21, a program charged with assisting in the development of administration policy on a national freight plan for the 21st century.

John Lesniewski
Noblesville, Indiana

John Lesniewski, a member of Local 1534 at Chicago, was born Nov. 9, 1953. He attended Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind., before beginning his railroad career on the Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal Railroad (CSXT) on Oct. 29, 1972. After having held a number of local offices, Lesniewski was elected local chairperson of Local 1534 in 1982 and was re-elected by acclamation to that position in 1986, 1990, 1994 and 1998, serving more than 16 years. He also served as the localís delegate at UTU Conventions in 1987, 1991, 1995, 1999 and 2003. In 1995, Lesniewski was elected part-time secretary of CSXT/B&O General Committee GO 049 after having worked 26 years as a trainman and 16 years as a part-time representative serving his fellow brothers and sisters. He was elected by acclamation to a full-time position as first vice general chairperson Jan. 5, 1999. He was re-elected to that position in 2003 and, upon the retirement of former General Chairperson J. T. Reed July 1, 2004, Lesniewski was elected by acclamation as general chairperson on the former B&O CSXT property. He was re-elected for successive terms by acclamation in 2007 and 2011. He served as chairperson on one of the largest rail general committees in the country, representing conductors, trainmen, yardmen, passenger conductors, passenger assistant conductors, hostlers and engineer trainees, exclusively. He also represented a large contingent of engineers on the northern half of CSXT. He has been elected or re-elected by acclamation a total of 14 times during his career, three times as delegate. On Feb. 28, 2011, Lesniewski was elected as second alternate vice president-East by the UTU board of directors and was subsequently elected, overwhelmingly, as a full vice president by delegates at the 2011 UTU Convention and was reelected to the position at the SMART Transportation Division convention in 2014. Lesniewski served on the National Negotiating Committee for the July 1, 2008, National Mediation Agreement under both former Presidents Paul C. Thompson and Malcolm B. Futhey Jr. He also served on the current 2011 National Negotiating Committee, having been appointed by International President Futhey in December 2009. His other International appointments include the Q&A Committee for the 2008 agreement, the 2008 Entry Rates Arbitration Committee, the Conductor Certification Bargaining Group RSAC Committee (2009), the Fatigue Management Plans Working Group RSAC (2012) and the National Wage & Rules panel (2004 and 2009). He and his wife of 41 years, Gail, reside in Noblesville, Ind. They have four children, three of whom are married, and seven grandchildren.

John Risch
Washington, D.C.

John Risch is the national legislative director of the SMART Transportation Division and has worked full-time in our Washington, D.C., office since 2009. There, he works on legislative, regulatory, safety and political issues. He was elected national legislative director in 2014. Risch is a former North Dakota State Legislative Director for the United Transportation Union, serving in that capacity from 1986 to 2009, and is a member of Local 1344 at Mandan, N.D. Risch began his railroad career on Burlington Northern Railroad, working in the track department for two summers while attending college. In the fall of 1978, he hired out in train service and in 1979, he entered engine service in what is now BNSF Railway. He is a long-time International officer, serving on the Executive Board from 1991 until 2009. He is a graduate of Bismarck State College and earned a bachelorís degree in Labor Studies from Antioch University of Yellow Springs, Ohio, where he studied collective bargaining, labor history, labor law, world labor movements and other issues related to labor. While serving as the North Dakota State Legislative Director, he testified hundreds of times at that stateís legislature. He was also appointed by the governor to the Education Action Commission and Occupational Therapy Board. He was appointed chairperson of the stateís Minimum Wage Commission twice, once by a Democratic labor commissioner and once by a Republican labor commissioner. In that role, he led efforts to raise the minimum wage and improve issues of the workplace, including extending minimum wage coverage to farm workers, something the federal law and most states exempt from coverage. In addition, Risch has testified before both the U.S. Senate and House of Representativesí committees representing transportation workers. Risch has attended nearly every North Dakota Democratic and Republican convention since 1986 and attended both the national Republican and Democratic conventions in 2012. He wrote a regular newspaper column for The Bismarck Tribune from 1991 until 1993, where he focused on labor, economic and tax issues. Risch, 55, has been married for 31 years to his wife, Kathi, and they have two adult children.

John R. England
Rosemead, California

John England was born Sept. 25, 1958, in Los Angeles. He hired out on Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway (now part of BNSF Railway) Aug. 28, 1978, as a brakeman. He was promoted to fireman in 1979 and engineer in 1981. A member of Local 1674 (a Los Angeles-based local that represents engineers on the BNSF and all yard crafts on the Los Angeles Junction Railway), England served as local chairperson for engineers from 1987 to 2003 and local chairperson for both engineers and yard workers on LAJ from 1995 to 1998. England also has served as local legislative representative from 1995 to the present and as local delegate at the 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2007 UTU conventions. He served as secretary to his general committee, GO 020, from 1991 to 1995, vice general chairperson from 1995 to 2003, and general chairperson from 2003 to 2014. He was elevated to the position of UTU International second alternate vice president Ė West in October 2009. After being reelected to that office in 2011, he was elevated to the office of International vice president in January 2013 and re-elected by acclamation in 2014. He also  currently serves as chairperson of the California State Legislative Board, as a member of the UTU International Transportation Safety Team, and as UTU International special organizing representative.

Independent Directors

Nicholas J. DiCicco Jr.
Orange, Ohio

Nicholas J. DiCicco Jr., who has a Bachelor of Science degree from John Carroll University (1955), is a Life Insurance Management and Research Association (LIMRA) Leadership Institute Fellow, a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA), and a Registered Principal with the National Association of Securities Dealers. Nick is the retired President of Midwest Life Insurance Company.

Frank J. Riha, CPA
Aurora, Ohio

Frank J. Riha, holding a Bachelor of Science degree from Kent State University (1962), is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) whose 30 years of experience have been concentrated on the areas of financial reporting and treasury. Frank spent most of his career in accounting and finance for life insurance companies, including as the Chief Financial Officer. He spent five years as an Insurance Examiner Supervisor with the State of Ohio Insurance Department, is a Life Management Institute Fellow, a Certified Financial Examiner, and a member of the Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants.

William J. Thompson
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

William J. Thompson, retired, a former Ohio State Legislative Director and conductor, has been elected to the United Transportation Union Insurance Association Board of Directors following his nomination to the post by the UTUIA board. He is a member of Local 792 at Cleveland, Ohio. Thompson, a member of the UTU Alumni Association, held the posts of assistant Ohio state legislative director and then state legislative director from 1981 through his retirement in 2002. He hired out with the Akron, Canton & Youngstown Railroad in 1961, before it was acquired by Norfolk & Western Railway (now part of Norfolk Southern), and was elected to posts of general chairperson, local chairperson and legislative representative of UTU predecessor Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen Local 432.

Billy Ryan, Attorney
Memphis, Tennessee

Billy Ryan, who has a B.A. in history from the University of Tennessee -- Knoxville, and a J.D. Law from the University of Mississippi, is a lawyer for the Donati Law Firm, L.L.P., in Memphis, Tenn. He is recognized in the 2009 and 2010 editions of The Best Lawyers in America in the specialty of Labor and Employment Law. Ryan is currently serving as past president of the Federal Bar Association's Memphis Mid-South Chapter. He is also a past president of the Memphis Bar Association's Labor & Employment Section.