LOS ANGELES, CA (January 5, 2021) – Members of the American Federation of Musicians Local 47 shattered a more than century-old glass ceiling by electing Stephanie O’Keefe as the first woman president in the union’s 123-year history. Secretary/Treasurer Elect Danita Ng-Poss, originally from Malaysia, will be the first person of Asian descent to serve as a titled officer of the union.
O’Keefe, a professional French hornist, began her career in the showrooms of Las Vegas in 1977, relocating to Los Angeles a decade later. She has performed and recorded with a variety of artists including Lady Gaga, Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, Daft Punk, Dolly Parton, Diana Krall, Barry Manilow, and Herbie Hancock. O’Keefe has also recorded scores for numerous commercials, films, television shows, and video games. A fierce advocate for musicians, O’Keefe created the awareness campaign Real Music Comes From Musicians℠ in 2006. She has served on the Local 47 Legislative Committee and numerous negotiating committees, including in 2005 the creation of the first AFM contract for a previously non-union orchestra. Additionally, O’Keefe serves on the advisory board of the American Jazz Institute, the music faculty of Occidental College, as a trustee for the Musicians Health & Welfare Fund, and in 2019 designed and implemented a highly acclaimed mentoring program, a joint project of Local 47 and the Inglewood School District.
“I am honored to be elected president of Local 47,” O’Keefe said. “It has been a goal of mine for many, many years to be an advocate for my fellow musicians. We are the producers of one of the most valuable commodities on Earth; music has been an integral part of every culture, in every part of the world, for thousands of years. Yet, somehow, the producers of this commodity are often undervalued, if not completely overlooked. My goal is to bring recognition to the music makers, and dignity to our profession.”
Born and raised in Malaysia, Ng-Poss’s family sold their home so that she could travel to the U.S. and study at the Berklee College of Music. Since arriving in Los Angeles over 15 years ago, Ng-Poss has supervised music preparation for large projects including multiple Oscars and Emmys ceremonies. She has also provided music preparation for numerous other projects including many seasons of TV shows “Dancing With the Stars” and “America’s Got Talent,” live concerts, video games, and albums for major recording artists including Ariana Grande, Michael Bublé, and Sara Bareilles. Ng-Poss has also been highly active in union organizing efforts, including the AFM’s widely publicized #BandTogether campaign in 2019, in which musicians from across the U.S. called upon the major film and TV studios to sign a fair contract for musicians. “The first order of business is to ensure the Secretary/Treasurer’s office runs like a well-oiled machine,” Ng- Poss said. “My goal is to bring Local 47 to an updated digital age to keep up with the 21st century.”
Re-elected as vice president, Rick Baptist joined the AFM at age 12, when he began playing the trumpet professionally. After moving to Los Angeles in 1980, Baptist performed on more than 1,300 motion picture scores, including the first 14 Pixar films, and on over 5,000 cartoon shows. He served as first trumpet on the Academy Awards for 30 years, the Emmys for nearly three decades, and performed and recorded with legendary artists including Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Josh Groban, Michael Bublé, Linda Ronstadt and Barry Manilow. About to begin serving his fourth consecutive term as vice president, Baptist has, during his tenure, expanded the union’s education and outreach program, spearheaded the relocation from Hollywood to the Local’s current state-of-the-art facility in Burbank, and participated in countless local, national, and international union contract negotiations. “I am honored to continue to serve as part of this history-making administration with Stephanie O’Keefe and Danita Ng-Poss,” Baptist said. “With the New Year and the new administration, our union’s work continues to help guide and inform our members through this devastating pandemic and ensure that musicians get back to work as quickly and safely as possible.”
The newly elected titled officers and executive board members were sworn in for a two-year term at the union’s Inaugural Meeting via Zoom on Jan. 11, 2021.