Washington Mayor, Business Leaders, Others Honor Legendary Educator

Dr. Floretta Dukes McKenzie. Photo Courtesy of Howard University 

WASHINGTON — Dr. Floretta Dukes McKenzie's legacy as an educator is more than just impressive.  

The life-long educator served as superintendent and chief state school officer for Washington, DC Public Schools, deputy commissioner in the U.S. Office of Education, deputy superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland, assistant deputy superintendent for the Maryland State Department of Education.  

Her accomplishment as an entrepreneur was as impressive.  She was founder and chairwoman for the McKenzie Group, an educational consulting firm with special emphasis on urban education.  She was chairwoman emerita for Howard University, having served on its board from 1993 to 2014.  

She also served on the boards of Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the National Geographic Society Education Foundation and the White House Historical Association.  

Her admirers, including Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, came to Cramton Auditorium at Howard University Saturday to honor that legacy and tell stories about her impact.  McKenzie died March 23.  She was 79.

As a mentor, McKenzie touched the lives of many, including friend and former colleague Linda W. Cropp, chairwoman at Care First, Inc.

"Have you ever been in a situation where you are around people that are considered equal, however, there may be one individual who commands a little more respect,” Cropp told the crowd.  

“You listen to them a bit more carefully, and you're lifted by their ability to express a point in a way that they have you buying into their ideas with a sense of your own ownership? Well, that was Dr. Floretta Dukes McKenzie."

President and CEO of Ameritas Investment Corporation Salene Hitchcock-Gear shared some of her thoughts on the late educator.

"She was also remembered for her delightful dinner conversation, and many who sat with her  always thought that when they left they picked up a remarkable life lesson," Hitchock-Gear said.

Howard University President Frederick Wayne A.I. President  announced that in honor of McKenzie's dedication to the university and to education that, "Every District of Columbia public school student who attends Howard University, that qualifies for a tuition scholarship, will receive that scholarship out of the Dr. Floretta Dukes McKenzie Scholarship Fund."

Bowser offered praise of McKenzie, who earned a bachelor’s degree from D. C. Teachers College and master’s degree, from Howard, and admiration for McKenzie’s work for the city.

"We look to the life of Dr. McKenzie, because she dedicated herself, her learning, her great talents to this community, this city, spending her career almost entirely advancing innovation, education, and challenging young people to live up to their greatest aspirations,” Bowser said."

"She will be remembered for her very high standards and always supporting the District of Columbia. Dr. McKenzie was a graduate of D.C. public schools and she became its leader. She would be so, I have no doubt, happy by Dr. Frederick's announcement that D.C. public school students can attend Howard University in her name," said Bowser.

Donations in honor of McKenzie can be made to the Dr. Floretta Dukes McKenzie Education Scholarship Fund and the Dr. Floretta Dukes McKenzie Memorial Fund.