Oct. 20, 2021
KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Dr. Drew Allbritten (’68 B.A. Math and Sociology, ’70 MA Counseling and Personnel, ’77 EdS Educational Administration, ’82 EdD Educational Leadership) is the recipient of the 2021 Outstanding Service Medallion by the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (AAACE). The award recognizes persons who have an outstanding record of service to the profession of adult and continuing education at the state, national, or international level and will be conferred at the 70th Annual AAACE Conference in October.
For over five decades, Allbritten has served as a reforming leader in education and public service specializing in leadership and governance development, economic and community development, and in education and training at the local, state, national and international levels. His career began as a secondary mathematics teacher and spanned a variety of rolls leading associations, coalitions, foundations, task forces, collective bargaining and political action committees at the local, state, federal and international levels. Allbritten is a 5-time CEO of non-profit organizations and advised administration officials for six U.S. Presidents.
Throughout his career, Allbritten returned to the College of Education and Human Development at Western Michigan University to further his education. What kept him coming back? “First and foremost, it was the excellent professors I had,” he shared. “Second it was the scheduling of courses in the evenings and on weekends. It enabled me and others to earn our advanced degrees without making huge sacrifices to our aspiring careers.” Looking back, one of the most significant lessons he learned in his coursework was how to successfully collaborate in groups. “To succeed in the global marketplace, teamwork is essential,” he emphasized.
Over his career, Allbritten has accomplished many things through teamwork and collaboration. Some of his greatest accomplishments include:
- Authoring the Child Passenger Safety Act while serving in the Michigan Legislature in 1980. This seat belt bill became a national model and within a decade saved over 125,000 lives.
- Co-writing the National Urban Policy, Enterprise Zones and Block Grant legislation while serving as a Presidential Appointee in the Reagan Administration, a role he held from 1981-1987.
- Leading the creation of the nation’s first fiber-optic network to connect public K-12 schools and colleges/universities with the state’s public television to broadcast postsecondary courses as Iowa Association of Community College Trustees Executive Director in 1990.
- Working with the U.S. Congress to co-write the Snowe-Rockefeller Amendment creating the FCC’s E-Rate Program in 1994 as the National Coalition for Technology in Education & Training chair. In 20 years, over $40 billion has been distributed nationally to K-16 schools and public libraries to improve their educational technology.
- Developing President George H.W. Bush’s National Institute for Literacy in 1992 as the Coalition of Lifelong Learning chair. § Helping to develop President Bill Clinton’s School-to-Work program ins 1994 and Welfare-to-Work program in 1995 as the AAACE Executive Director.
- Leading the passage of a constitutional amendment referendum to target Georgia’s lottery funds for underserved communities for pre-school, K-12 technology and college scholarships as the Georgia Association of Educators/National Education Association Executive Director.
Allbritten offers three pieces of advice to today’s future educators. First, expand your academic background beyond your field of study. Take a course or two outside your field (like business management or public administration, psychology or sociology. Second, know your professional and personal strengths. He suggests taking a strengths assessment to help understand and leverage them better. Finally, be active in your community! Join organizations and get politically engaged. He believes today’s educators must also become community leaders, and perhaps state and national leaders as well.
His papers and publications are archived at the Bird Library’s Adult Education Special Collections section at Syracuse University in New York and at the Grand Rapids, Michigan Public Library.