The union’s national board made the decision Saturday in a vote by acclamation. Carteris has been serving as acting president since Howard’s death.
She had been re-elected to the post of executive vice president at the union’s bi-annual convention in October, topping Patricia Richardson.
The SAG-AFTRA Constitution, enacted in 2012 as part of the merger of SAG and AFTRA, provides that the exec VP will succeed the president should the office be vacated with the national board then selecting the president to serve the balance of the unexpired term.
SAG-AFTRA’s next election will take place in August 2017.
“I am deeply honored to be chosen by the SAG-AFTRA National Board to serve the union and its members as president,” said Carteris. “Ken was a great union leader, friend and mentor. He left big shoes to fill, but with the support of the national board of directors and the membership, I am committed to improving the lives of all SAG-AFTRA members.”
The national board also elected Rebecca Damon to serve as executive vice president. The union noted that the decision means for the first time the top three SAG-AFTRA officers are women. Jane Austin was elected as secretary-treasurer last year.
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Carteris is best known for her role as school newspaper editor Andrea Zuckerman in the series “Beverly Hills 90210.” Other credits include “Touched by an Angel,” “King of the Hill,” “NYPD Blue,” “Jag” and “Criminal Minds.”
She has also worked as a producer, creating a series of “Lifestories” specials, which led to her producing and hosting her own talk show for Fox. Recent credits include guest-starring roles on “Make It or Break It,” “The Event,” “Longmire” and the web series “Send Me” and the holiday television movie “12 Christmas Wishes.”
Carteris became involved in SAG and AFTRA politics prior to the 2012 merger, serving on the national boards of both unions. She was a part of the G1 group that helped with developing the merger plan, with Howard campaigning aggressively for the combo — which created a performers union with about 165,000 members.
During his union presidency, Howard espoused a pragmatic approach and was the leading voice of the moderate-leaning Unite 4 Strength faction — which has dominated the leadership at the performers union since 2009.
Damon is a working actor and voiceover performer and a SAG-AFTRA national board member. She is the chair of the national Government Review Committee and Move NY Committee and also serves on the Executive, Finance and Government Affairs and Public Policy Committees.
“It’s an honor to serve our members and I’m grateful for Gabrielle’s trust and the support of my colleagues,” said Damon. “As executive vice president, I will continue working to expand SAG-AFTRA’s reach and to increase opportunities for members across the country. Following the peerless example of our beloved late president, Ken Howard, we will focus on member outreach to maximize the solidarity and bargaining strength of our remarkable union.”
SAG-AFTRA national executive director David White said, “I congratulate Gabrielle Carteris on her election as president of SAG-AFTRA. Gabrielle and I have worked closely together for many years, including most recently on the successful commercials contracts negotiations. I know she understands the needs and aspirations of our members and I am excited to work with her to continue advancing the goals of this union.”
“I also congratulate Rebecca Damon on her election as Executive Vice President. She is a deeply experienced and effective leader who will work with President Carteris and the national board to engage and empower members throughout the country.”