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Who is Leslie Fenwick? Ex-Howard University dean runs for education secretary

Iram Sharifah Khan December 17, 2020
who is leslie fenwick
Photo by Larry French/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Who is Dr. Leslie Fenwick? Yesterday, 16 December, two names – relatively new to the US political landscape – were announced as potential picks for Biden’s education secretary role. These were Dr. Leslie Fenwick and Miguel Cardona.

As anticipation for the final announcement grows, let’s learn more about Dr. Fenwick, her bio, career and education.

Who is Leslie Fenwick?

Dr. Leslie Fenwick is the former dean emeritus of Howard University’s School of Education and has had a long and prolific career as an educator. She held a tenured position as a professor of educational policy and leadership, and has served as a senior fellow for the McDonald Character Leadership Conference at the US West Point Military Academy since 2017.

Dr. Leslie Fenwick and husband H. Patrick Swygert are known as a power couple in education. Swygert’s career includes achievements such as being Howard University’s 19th president emeritus and University at Albany, State University of New York president.

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In August 2019, Leslie and her husband were welcomed by Mayor John Miller presented with the key to the city in Fernandina Beach, Florida, their family’s chosen vacation spot.

Through their work, Fenwick and Swygert are loud advocates for urban school reform and increased opportunities for students and educators of colour.

Should Fenwick win her candidacy, it would be a big step for women and educators of colour across the US.

Dr. Fenwick’s education and career

Leslie Fenwick graduated from University of Virginia in 1983 with a her bachelor of science degree in elementary education. Then, in 1993, she went on to obtain a PhD in educational policy and leadership from Ohio State University.

Following her extensive education, she took on roles within top ranking universities in the US.

Fenwick was the dean emeritus (ex-dean, honourably discharged) of Howard University, where she’s held a number of positions for almost a decade.

Her Howard University profile mentions other notable achievements in the field, such as being named a distinguished research in education lecturer by Kansas State and a Benjamin E. Mays distinguished lecturer at Georgia State in 2018, and a dean in residence at the American Association for Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) the following year, 2019.

In addition to this, between 2007-2012, she was awarded $2.1 million in research funding by the Department of Education, under the teacher diversity grant.

According to The Washington Post “President-elect Joe Biden works to name his entire Cabinet before Christmas, but it’s possible that timing will change.” So, we might get an official announcement soon as to who the Biden Cabinet’s new education secretary will be.

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Iram is a London-based freelance journalist with a BA in Journalism and Media from Birkbeck University. She studied several modules, including Journalism in British Life, Interview skills and Feature Writing, Introduction to Journalism Practice and Manga and Anime. Iram went from university to work with GRV Media at The Focus Writers’ Academy and enjoys learning Japanese, taking singing lessons, playing video games and watching Korean dramas in her spare time.