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DA recommends Christina McGrath for TRS post

85% of delegates vote to support her nomination
News Stories
Christina McGrath
Erica Berger

Christina McGrath makes a pension presentation for chapter leaders at the UFT’s Bronx borough office on March 8

The Delegate Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution recommending that UFT members support Christina McGrath for teacher-member of the New York City Teachers' Retirement System board.

The city DOE, which is administering the election, has decided to hold an online vote. TRS members may vote between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 8, or Thursday, May 9. The ballot is being sent to their DOE work email.  It is the first contested TRS election in more than 20 years.

At its Feb. 7 meeting, 85% of the delegate body approved a resolution recommending that UFT members sign nominating petitions for McGrath, the first stage of the process. She is seeking to replace former TRS teacher-member David Kazansky, who is vacating his position.

McGrath, an elementary school teacher for 29 years and a former UFT delegate and chapter leader in the Bronx, has worked in the UFT Pension Department for more than 20 years. She began as a part-time union staffer in 2003 in the UFT's Bronx borough office, where she was trained, and then served members as a pension consultant for 18 years.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, McGrath, together with several other union pension experts, worked with TRS to convert to an online system. TRS initially had to pause the retirement filings of members during that March and April. But when the online system went live in May 2020, McGrath called hundreds of UFT members who contacted the union about retirement and walked them through the new online system.

McGrath was part of a team that did remote pension consultations via Zoom throughout the pandemic. That was a huge endeavor, particularly in the first months, since most members typically file for retirement in the spring and the pandemic prompted even more to retire.

When she started working full time for the UFT Pension Department in January 2022, McGrath updated the UFT retirement tool kit and helped update pension clinic PowerPoints and videos as well as train new consultants. McGrath started the Pension Files newsletter, published four to five times a year, to help pension consultants stay current on pension information. All the while, she continued to conduct UFT pension clinics, workshops and school visits.

McGrath also was a key member of the team that set up the union's new health final consultation, where members learn the benefits of joining the Retired Teachers Chapter, signing up for the union's Supplemental Health Insurance Program (SHIP) and continuing to contribute to COPE.

The transition to teacher-member on the TRS board would be seamless for McGrath, since she has already become a trusted liaison with the TRS for in-service and retired members.

The other teacher-members spoke glowingly of McGrath.

"We are entrusted with more than $120 billion, and it would be reckless if we did not have capable individuals prepared at any given moment to oversee our pension fund," said teacher-member Victoria Lee, the UFT treasurer.

McGrath has played a key role in strategizing to help shape the UFT's Fix Tier 6 campaign. Lee said McGrath's "experience has allowed her to serve as a valuable asset to our Fix Tier 6 campaign."

Teacher-member Tom Brown, the chair of the city's TRS board, said McGrath "has a tremendous base of knowledge about our pension system."

Brown noted that trustees "oversee the investments of the fund, dealing with managers and our consultants, and we oversee the distribution of pension checks to our retirees and beneficiaries. Christina understands these roles of the trustee because she has first-hand experience with TRS."

UFT Secretary LeRoy Barr said, "The opinions of people like Tom Brown and Victoria Lee is that Christina McGrath is the most qualified person they know for this job, so that's my opinion as well."

McGrath said she was "humbled" by the teacher-members' praise as well as "the Delegate Assembly's faith in my abilities. I'm ready for this job and, if I get it, I will not let our members down."

Should McGrath be elected, her three-year term would begin immediately following the ballot count on May 21. The seven-member TRS board consists of three teacher-members, the city comptroller and schools chancellor, and two mayoral appointees.

The original March 14 article on McGrath was updated on April 16.

Related Topics: Pension