December 4, 2014

PSEA board member Jim Sando elected president of national teacher pension group

Sando-NCTRPSEA Mideastern Region President Jim Sando will take the fight to protect the retirement security of public employees to the national level as the new president of the National Council on Teacher Retirement (NCTR). 

"It certainly is a highlight of my career in terms of my service to public education," said Sando of his election as NCTR president.

As a member of the PSEA Board of Directors, a trustee of the Pennsylvania School Employees’ Retirement System since 2006, and a long-time teacher in the Wissahickon School District, Sando has made protecting the pensions of school employees a top priority for as long as he can remember.

The National Council on Teacher Retirement (NCTR) is the only national organization solely focused on the interests of retired education employees and the pension systems on which they rely. It includes 68 affiliates, mostly state and municipal school employee pension systems. The organization offers pension system trustees and staff training opportunities — including programs that partner with high-caliber universities like Harvard, Berkeley, and Stanford. NCTR also lobbies state and federal lawmakers on public pension issues.

Sando said NCTR has provided him with the knowledge he needed to serve effectively as a PSERS trustee. "I know I wouldn't be comfortable sitting in that seat as a [PSERS] trustee if I hadn't gotten the training I had gotten through NCTR," he said.

Sando has served on NCTR's 10-member Executive Committee for the past four years, rising from secretary/treasurer to vice president to president. As president, he wants to make sure NCTR members and policymakers understand that a defined-benefit retirement system is the most effective and efficient way to provide retirement security to school employees.

"Maintaining quality defined-benefit retirement systems is in everyone's best interest," he said. "If retirement security is diminished, we as a society end up paying for it on the back-end by having increased costs for public services."

As president of NCTR, Sando also serves on the board of directors of the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS), a nonprofit research and education organization. Sando noted that "NIRS' latest report, Still a Better Bang for the Buck, provides a clear picture of why defined-benefit retirement plans, like PSERS, are a true and valued underpinning of retirement security and should be supported by everyone."

Sando also serves on the Executive Committee of the Trustee Leadership Forum of the Initiative for Responsible Investment, which is associated with the Houser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Like NCTR, the Trustee Leadership Forum focuses on training and developing the skills of pension trustees.

Sando said he never would have had opportunities to take on these national roles guiding public pension policy without the leadership training and support he received from PSEA.

"From building representative to local leader training, PSEA has been a partner in developing the knowledge base and leadership skills necessary to be successful in the classroom and the world in which we live and work," Sando said. "Thank you to the members and leadership of PSEA who continue to support the kind of organization that makes all of this possible." 

Pictured: NEA Vice President Becky Pringle and Sando at a recent NCTR conference.


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