Rashid Ali Mathus, known to UFT members and delegates for his work moderating the union’s town hall and Delegate Assembly meetings on the phone, died on May 7, 2022, at age 40.
He began his work with the UFT at the onset of the pandemic, and his mellifluous voice was calming to many in those unsettled and anxious early months — and always a pleasure to listen to.
Rashid announced online callers for the question-and-answer periods during meetings, and he seamlessly managed the voting by phone and handled the online vote counts during Delegate Assemblies. Referred to informally as “The Voice of God” by some UFT members, he always had a graceful presence.
Rashid was born on Aug. 10, 1981, in New York City, and he lived in both Newark and Princeton, New Jersey, where he attended public schools. Resourceful, outgoing, curious and charismatic, he was a bridge builder who brought diverse people together in his personal life and in his work.
A self-taught computer whiz, he built PCs from spare parts and was the de-facto IT guru for his friends and their families. While in college at the University of Maryland, he worked with LSG Strategies, an advocacy and consulting-services firm offering political campaign support. Eventually, he started his own firm, IV Broadcasting, providing phone support for unions including the American Federation of Teachers, campaigns and other progressive causes.
When the pandemic hit, this work led him to the UFT, where he quickly endeared himself to union members and staff with his warm, baritone voice and easy-going manner.
Rashid had a deep commitment to social justice, fostered when he volunteered as a young man to work at an orphanage in Bahia, Brazil. “The devastating effects of the poverty he witnessed left an indelible impression on him,” according to an obituary in The Washington Post.
Rashid is survived by his parents, Judith Mathus and Ebrahim Ali; his siblings, Zahid and Katija Ali; and a wide circle of friends and loved ones.