“I have an incredibly strong support network because of Adelphi. I know that if I ever needed advice in my personal or professional life or guidance on research for my own job, I could contact any one of the spectacular women I had the opportunity to learn from in the political and sociology departments.”
Member of Adelphi University’s 10 Under 10
Political Communications Director of the Local 338 Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU/UDCW)
Nikki Kateman ’10 is the political communications director of the Local 338 Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU/UDCW). If she could go back in time and tell her 19-year old self what her life would be like now, “I would be absolutely stunned,” she said.
Kateman once thought she would go to law school and work for an independent music label helping small artists. “Unfortunately, the economy collapsed and that plan didn’t seem sustainable anymore,” she said. “More importantly, I also realized that fighting for social and economic justice mattered so much more to me—both personally and in the grand scheme of the world.”
It is clear that Kateman found her calling. In fact, she was just named to City & State New York’s 2019 Albany 40 Under 40, which recognizes those working at the state level in a variety of different political, government or advocacy roles. “It was an incredible honor for me and definitely a highlight in my career,” she said.
First introduced to the union’s work by her father who was a member, Kateman began her career with Local 338 RWDSU/UDCW in a position she held in the summer between her freshman and sophomore years at Adelphi. “As an intern and part-time staff member, I was given experience in a number of departments, including union organizing and special projects,” she said.
At Adelphi, Kateman credits Traci Levy, her political science professor, with helping foster and encourage her passion for social justice. “Traci Levy was without a doubt my favorite professor. However, more than just being an excellent professor, Traci has been an incredible ally in my life,” she said. “She is also someone I very much admire and still look to for guidance today.”
After graduating, Kateman was offered a full-time position working in the union’s political, communications, and special projects department. In 2016, she was promoted to the role of political and communications director.
In her current role, she handles legislative matters that directly impact Local 338 members and their families. She represents the union on political, community advocacy, and union campaigns throughout New York State, in addition to being responsible for overseeing all Local 338 internal and external communications.
“I feel very fortunate to have been a part of a number of exciting and important projects,” she said. Among her proudest career accomplishments are the work she has done in developing a comprehensive support program for workers who were displaced by a major corporate bankruptcy and helping advocate for the passage of the Compassionate Care Act which created a medical cannabis program for patients in New York State.
Kateman also participates in and coordinates a portion of the union’s annual charitable work. “I am very fortunate that I work for an organization that is committed to giving back to the communities in which our members live and work,” she said.