8/3/17 | Following a period as acting commissioner, Brenda Dann-Messier ’00 EdD has been named Rhode Island’s Commissioner of Postsecondary Education.
“Dr. Dann-Messier has demonstrated that she has the talents and experience to address our greatest challenges and opportunities in RI higher education,” Bill Foulkes, chair of RI Department of Education’s Council on Postsecondary Education, told Providence Business News. “We are very lucky to have a commissioner with her breadth of experience.Throughout her career, she has focused on promoting student success and developing the workforce at every level.”
For 10 years, Dann-Messier served as president of Dorcas Place Adult & Family Learning Center, where she developed programs in adult literacy, workforce development, family literacy, and college preparation.
In 2009, she headed to Washington, DC, to work for the US Department of Education — first as assistant secretary of the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE), where she managed 85 employees and a $1.7billion budget, and then as White House-nominated, Senate-confirmed acting assistant secretary of the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE), where she served as the principal adviser to then-Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
In 2014, Dann-Messier returned to Rhode Island to focus on independent consulting work and teaching — including co-teaching a class on community and family engagement in the same JWU program from which she’d graduated 15+ years ago.
Dann-Messier earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership (EdD) from JWU’s School of Education in 2000; her dissertation was titled, “Access to Higher Education for Welfare Recipients: An Analysis of Welfare Policy Development Designed by National and State Policymakers.”
Dann-Messier serves on the boards of the National Skills Corporation and the Institute of Educational Leadership. In addition, she is a JWU Providence Trustee.
Read more about Dann-Messier’s career in the Spring 2015 issue of JWU Magazine.