Debra Penny is the UFT treasurer and the liaison to the union’s retirees. A lifelong Staten Island resident, Penny attended its public schools and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from public institutions within the City University of New York system.
Penny cares deeply about career educators and safeguarding the retirement benefits they’ve earned. Utilizing the expertise she gained after years as a UFT pension specialist, Penny was elected to serve as a board trustee representing the union in the Teachers’ Retirement System, and it’s why the board subsequently elected her to serve as its chairwoman. Ensuring that UFT members get to enjoy the pensions they deserve energizes her work; she is devoted to making sure that the pension system remain solvent for both today’s and tomorrow’s members.
On the national front, Penny serves as the co-chair of the American Federation of Teachers Trustee Council, the National Council on Teacher Retirement, and serves as a member of the National Council of Public Employee Pension. In recognition of her fiduciary achievements, Penny has been named to the National Association of Securities Professionals’ Wall Street Hall of Fame. In addition, she sits on the board of the New York State United Teachers.
A fierce trade unionist and advocate for her profession, Penny has fought for policies in support of public education and educators from early in her career. More than 35 years ago, she dedicated her life to educating elementary school children and serving her Staten Island community.
Penny taught for 28 years at Staten Island’s PS 32, where she was elected chapter leader. She then became a UFT educational liaison and later a special representative and political action coordinator on Staten Island, rising to become the borough representative in 2012. Her broad range of knowledge and skills, coupled with her deep devotion to the union and public education, has resulted in increased member involvement in union events and political activism.