During her tenure at the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, the New York Times called Dean “the most innovative figure in Silicon Valley.” As leader of the 15th largest regional labor federation in the country, Dean represented over 90 unions and 110,000 members in the heart of Silicon Valley. She was the youngest person and first woman to lead a major labor federation of the AFL-CIO.
Dean is founder of two successful and innovative nonprofit organizations. In 1995 she founded Working Partnerships USA (WPUSA), a nonprofit organization committed to rebuilding the links between regional economic policy and community well being. In 2005, Dean founded Building Partnerships USA, a national organization dedicated to increasing civic and political participation to strengthen democracy and advance social and economic justice at the regional level.
Dean has also served on the Board of Governors of California’s Community Colleges and has received many awards for her leadership, including Woman of the Year from the San Jose Mercury New, John M. Gardner Exemplary Leaders Award from the American Leadership Forum, and the Gloria Steinem Women of Vision Award from the Ms. Foundation.