Margaret McKenna, a national leader in teacher education, served as Lesley University’s president for 22 years.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
McKenna served as Lesley University’s president for 22 years, from 1985 to 2007, during a transformative period that saw significant growth and established the university as a national leader in teacher education. As leader of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, McKenna will use her extensive expertise and leadership skills to help strengthen the state’s public education system.
“I appreciate Gov. Patrick's appointment and appreciate the role the members of the Lesley community have played in preparing me for this role,” McKenna said. “This is such a critical time in education and the issues before the board – teacher licensure and evaluation, charter schools, curriculum standards and testing, as well as special and adult education – are significant and impact many Lesley graduates. While Massachusetts leads the nation in education rankings, we have much to do to reach the kids in the poorest communities and narrow the achievement gap. I am excited to have a role in these efforts.”
Lesley University President Joseph B. Moore praised the governor’s choice.
“Gov. Patrick should be commended for his appointment of Margaret McKenna to chair the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. She is committed to a quality education for all students, as evidenced by her career, and she understands the wide range of conditions in which teachers teach and students learn,” Moore reflected. “Margaret McKenna understands the variety of perspectives about schools and how to improve them, and the powerful link between educational attainment and economic opportunity. Chairing the board in these times is a tough job, and she will serve the board and the Commonwealth well.”
Following her tenure as Lesley president, McKenna went on to serve as president of the Walmart Foundation for four years, leading one of the nation’s largest philanthropic foundations. She is now interim director and visiting professor at the Sillerman Center for Advancing Philanthropy at Brandeis University’s Heller School. McKenna also serves on the Boston School Committee, a post from which she will step down prior to being sworn in as chair of the state board, but the breadth of her experience has already spanned the national and state levels.
She began her career as a civil rights attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice and later served as Deputy White House Counsel to President Jimmy Carter. She helped establish the United States Department of Education in the late 1970s, where she served as deputy undersecretary. In 1981, McKenna became vice president of Radcliffe College, where she served until 1985 when she left to take the helm of Lesley.
McKenna received her BA at Emmanuel College and her JD at Southern Methodist University School of Law. She is a resident of Boston and has two adult sons. Her appointment fills the vacancy left by Board chair Maura Banta, whose term expired in June 2014.
McKenna’s appointment was announced along with two other new board members: Katherine Craven, former executive director of the Massachusetts School Building Authority, and Mary Ann Stewart, past president of the Massachusetts PTA.
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