Debra Penny dedicated her life to educating elementary school children and serving her Staten Island community more than 34 years ago. A fierce trade unionist and advocate for her profession, she has fought for policies in support of public education and educators from early in her career.
She cares deeply about career educators and safeguarding the retirement benefits that they’ve earned. It’s why she was elected to serve as a board trustee representing the union in the Teachers’ Retirement System, utilizing the expertise she gained after years as a UFT pension specialist on Staten Island. Ensuring that UFT members get to enjoy the pensions they deserve energizes her work; she is devoted to ensuring that the pension system remain solvent for both today’s and tomorrow’s members.
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 additionally serves on the National Council on Teacher Retirement, the Staten Island Borough President’s Substance Abuse Task Force and sits on the board of the New York State United Teachers.
She 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.