The AGMA Board of Governors is pleased to announce Sam Wheeler as the Union’s new National Executive Director. The Board approved this appointment on Thursday, January 27, 2022. Mr. Wheeler will assume the position on February 1, 2022.
Mr. Wheeler is a union-side labor lawyer who has dedicated his professional life to the labor movement. He joined AGMA in 2019 as Eastern Counsel.
“During his tenure at AGMA, Sam demonstrated that he is a leader and became known for being a strong and gifted negotiator and a fierce advocate for AGMA Artists across the country. The Board recognizes that he is an exceptional individual and we are delighted that, as National Executive Director, Sam will continue to serve the Union in an important leadership role,” said Ray Menard, AGMA President. “Under his leadership, AGMA will continue to expand, modernize, and remain steadfast in our mission to protect the rights, health, and safety of our members.”
As Eastern Counsel, Mr. Wheeler served AGMA members and negotiated and administered collective bargaining agreements at a number of AGMA signatory companies including the Metropolitan Opera, American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Boston Lyric Opera, Chautauqua Opera, and Pittsburgh Opera. In addition to his role as a negotiator at these signatory companies, Sam spearheaded the revision of AGMA’s governing documents and subsequent constitutional referendum in 2020. He has served as an advisor to AGMA elected leadership, as staff liaison to several AGMA standing committees, and as a project manager for national initiatives, including recent elections for AGMA’s Area Committees.
“I am honored and humbled to be asked by AGMA’s Board of Governors to serve as the next National Executive Director of such a strong and dynamic union. AGMA Artists are the very best in the world at what they do and I have been privileged to watch them come together in solidarity to weather the darkest period for the Arts in living memory,” said Sam Wheeler. “I look forward to leading AGMA’s amazing team of professional staff in the ongoing fight to protect the health and safety of our community and to rededicating ourselves to the fight for just compensation, diversity, dignity, and justice for AGMA Artists in theaters, studios, and concert halls across the country.”
Before joining AGMA, Mr. Wheeler spent several years as an attorney at Cohen, Weiss and Simon LLP, where he represented both private and public sector unions in contract negotiation, litigation, and administrative proceedings, and provided internal guidance on strategic and governance matters.
He previously served in the Office of the General Counsel at both the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers union, and the United Steelworkers as a 2014 Peggy Browning Fellow.
Originally from Ebensburg, Pennsylvania, Sam is now a proud resident of New York City since he and his wife, Rachel, moved to the City in 2016. He is a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, a summa cum laude graduate of the College of William and Mary, and a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Mr. Wheeler succeeds AGMA’s former National Executive Director Leonard Egert, who served in this leadership role and successfully led the Union through a period of growth from August 2016 until January 2022.