Professor Ted Tsukahara to Be Honored as Community Ally of the Year

by Linda Lenhoff | July 28, 2022

Integral Tutor and Professor Ted Tsukahara, AFSC, SMC ’62, PhD, has been named the Community Ally of the Year by the Contra Costa Labor Council and Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council. “Tutor Ted,” Saint Mary’s 2021–2022 Professor of the Year, will be honored at the group’s 24th annual Labor to Labor dinner held at Saint Mary’s on Sept. 16. Tsukahara has worked diligently in support of labor issues through SMC’s John F. Henning Institute, which he helped to establish 25 years ago, and for which he serves as Director. 

Tsukahara was delighted to learn of the honor, which reflects the years of work he’s dedicated to creating paid internships for SMC students. “It's always been a goal to see if we can get both the working experience and put enough money in the students’ hands so that they understand that if you're going to do work and you’re being paid for it, you have responsibilities that go along with it,” Tsukahara said about the Institute.

The John F. Henning Institute is inspired by the life and work of SMC graduate John F. Henning ’38, the former U.S. Undersecretary of Labor who also served for 26 years as the Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO. The Henning Institute is a center for the study of Catholic social thought, with special emphasis on the question of human work and its centrality to the common good. Students are invited to take part in the Institute’s program of academic conferences and lectures, publications and seminars—and, of course, paid internships.

“The whole idea to create this internship program was essentially to provide a different path for students to consider, but the personal goal was to see if we could find someone who could become the sort of next generation of a Jack Henning and have the same impact. And if we missed, at least they got something to help with their education, as you keep the cost of college down for them.”

Underlying the Institute’s goals about discussing the value of work was showing the connection between Catholic social teaching and the dignity of work.

With his retirement coming, Tsukahara has proposed keeping the intern program going for at least another year. “I have raised enough money to be confident that we can place interns next summer. And so, part of what I’m going to do this fall is to put the agreements in place that originally were exclusively for Contra Costa. We expanded it during COVID to Sonoma County, which is the North Bay Labor Council.”

The Institute has expanded its initial internship offerings. “Alameda County is going to be one that will work very nicely with Contra Costa County because this is where our students come from. So, when we started to see the interest, we had more of an inventory. We've got one student placed at Alameda County this summer; we've got two at Contra Costa this summer. 

Saint Mary’s congratulates Ted Tsukahara for this well-deserved community ally award. Join in the fun at the Contra Costa Labor Council and Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council 24th annual Labor to Labor dinner held at Saint Mary’s on Sept. 16. Click here for more information.