Steward Spotlight: Region 11

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Though they’ve never actually met in person, Region 11’s co-Chief Stewards Marlana Balk and Laura Heezen say their joint roles have given them a unique bond as they help serve members in their respective locals.

While Balk serves members in Local 1101 at the Dept. of Corrections (DOC), Heezen works for the Dept. of Veterans Affairs in Local 1102.


“I started with MAPE when I was at St. Paul College and, to be honest, I had no idea what unions were or what they consisted of,” Balk recalls of her early union beginnings. “I came to DOC and was also in MAPE and I went to meetings because I like to get to know people and learn.”

When she received an email asking if she was interested in being co-chief steward, Balk answered the call. “We’re trying to help our co-union people and that’s great.”


Heezen was an existing co-chief steward when Balk came on board. She shares Balk’s enthusiasm for helping colleagues, “I do enjoy being a steward. I love

everything about it,” Heezen said. “I continue to learn about being a steward, the contract and  labor law.”

Both chiefs receive member emails and use that as a launchpad for sharing ideas or thoughts on how to proceed with the members’ requests for help.

“I love that we can bounce ideas off one another and if we don’t know the answer, we communicate with one another. I want people to feel supported and it’s nice to know we’ll support each other,” Balk said.

Heezen agreed that sharing the load means quicker responses to members in need.

“You know when someone is emailing you how important it is to get back to them,” she said. “We try to put ourselves in the shoes of the members; trying to figure out what they really need right now to feel supported and feel the union is supporting them.”

Region 11 is in need of more active stewards. Stewards meet every other month and share the load between the region. If you’re interested in being a steward in your local, reach out to your local chief steward.