WMU News

Former Washington, D.C., school chief to speak on school leadership

May 19, 1998

KALAMAZOO -- A former superintendent of the Washington, D.C., public school system will discuss the leadership qualities needed to run today's schools in a Thursday, May 28, speech at Western Michigan University.

Dr. Floretta Dukes McKenzie, now head of an educational consulting firm in Washington, will describe her views on "Reinventing Leadership" in a free public talk set for 10 a.m. in the Oakland Recital Hall's Campus Cinema. McKenzie will draw on her 40-year record in all phases of American education to explore the similarities between top educators and leading business executives when it comes to management and leadership habits in a world of rapidly changing public expectations.

McKenzie also will focus on the importance of meaningful connections educators must make with members of the private sector and others in attempting to keep pace with the daily emergence of new technologies.

"Her talk should appeal to administrators, teachers, students and parents interested in school administration -- anyone interested in what constitutes good leadership in schools," says Dr. Lynn C. Todman, associate director of WMU's Institute for Leadership Transformation, which is sponsoring McKenzie's visit. "We're expecting to attract a fairly eclectic audience."

The nationally recognized educator who spoke at last month's National Association of School Boards annual conference in New Orleans, will visit Kalamazoo to meet with the Michigan Association of African American Superintendents. That group will hold a day-long meeting May 28 on the WMU campus.

McKenzie's successful tenure as head of the nation's 21st largest school system from 1981 to 1988 was marked by the establishment of a comprehensive public/private partnership program and the implementation of a five-year computer literacy program. She also is credited with the development of a stable financial and planning base that led to increased student academic progress.

Her firm, the McKenzie Group Inc., is a comprehensive educational consulting firm that offers a range of direct assistance services to organizations in both the public and private sectors. It has assisted in such tasks as helping the city of Milwaukee select a new school superintendent.

In addition to her consulting responsibilities, McKenzie is involved in a number of efforts to enhance minority educational opportunities, including serving as a member of the national advisory council for Project 3000 by 2000. That project is an effort by the Association of American Medical Colleges to boost minority participation in health care careers.

McKenzie's background also includes a position as deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Education's Office of School Improvement. In that position, she oversaw 15 federal education programs and initiatives and supervised a staff of 100 employees and a yearly budget of $67 million.

McKenzie holds degrees from D.C. Teachers College, Howard University and George Washington University. She began her career as a teacher in Maryland and moved into administrative ranks in the Columbia, Md., public schools. She held several high-level administrative positions with Maryland's Montgomery County Public Schools before serving in the federal government and being named superintendent of Washington schools.

She has served as a visiting scholar at Harvard University and is currently a professor in American University's Graduate School of Education. McKenzie serves on boards for such organizations as the National Geographic Society, White House Historical Association, Howard University, Harvard's Graduate School of Education, Johns Hopkins Leadership Development Program and the American Association of School Administrators' Leadership for Learning Foundation. In 1992, she was named the first African American and the first female member of Marriott International Inc.'s board of directors.

For more information about McKenzie's visit, persons should contact Todman at (616) 387-8370.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland; cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
616 387-8400