Recognizing the extraordinary impact of Penn GSE alumni

May 17, 2021

Each year, Penn GSE recognizes the extraordinary impact of the alumni community during the annual Celebration of Educators programming. During the virtual event Dean Pam Grossman announced the following 2021 Education Alumni Award recipients:

Penn GSE Educator of the Year
Annette Anderson, GED’97 GR’06

Annette Anderson is a two-time Penn GSE alumna. She received her master’s in secondary education and her doctorate in educational policy and leadership. Annette currently serves as an Assistant Professor and Faculty Lead for School Administration & Supervision in the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University. She is also the Deputy Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Safe and Healthy Schools. Dr. Anderson is one of the three co-founders of the eSchool+ Initiative, an interdisciplinary effort focused on equity in education with Hopkins colleagues in medicine, public health and ethics, and which quickly established itself in the summer of 2020 when it launched its seminal state School Reopening Tracker in July and the Teacher Vaccination Dashboard in March.

Helen C. Bailey Award
Katherine Clonan-Roy, GR’16

Katie Clonan-Roy, Ph.D. received her doctorate from Penn GSE in education, culture, and society. Dr. Clonan-Roy is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Curriculum & Foundations, in the College of Education and Human Services at Cleveland State University. Her research interests lie at the intersections of education, adolescent development, and gender and sexuality studies and Katie is the co-founder of two research collaboratives; the EnGenderED Research Collaborative and the THRiVE Research Collaborative at Cleveland State University. When Katie is not conducting research, she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses at CSU, and engages in service work committed to equity and justice in K-12 and higher education.

William B. Castetter Alumni Award of Merit

Jeffrey Berger, GR’91 

Jeffrey Berger received his doctorate in education from Penn GSE and has been a long-time alumni volunteer and leader. Jeffrey has served in an alumni leadership capacity at Penn GSE, including as Vice President of the former GSE Alumni Board for many years. Jeffrey is a Professor of Philosophy at the Community College of Philadelphia where he also developed and led the Writing Program in the Honors Program and has long been a leader around faculty and curriculum development projects at the college.

Ethel and Allen “Buddy” Carruth Sustained Leadership in Education Award
Ronald Whitaker, GED’11

Dr. Ronald Whitaker is a graduate of the School and Mental Health Counseling program. He is the appointed Culturally Responsive Pedagogy Assistant Professor of Education and the Director of the Center for Urban Education, Equity, and Improvement at Cabrini University. Dr. Whitaker also holds the distinction of being a Schouver Fellow at Duquesne University. As a Schouver Fellow, Ronald engages in improvement projects that seek to build system capacity within organizations. Additionally, he is the current Pennsylvania Department of Education Equity Expert. In this role, he is leading equity efforts in Pennsylvania, as it relates to developing standards and policies, for operationalizing Culturally Relevant and Sustaining Education competencies in the commonwealth. As a researcher and scholar, Dr. Whitaker publishes articles that focus on the psychology of race and racism, issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, culturally relevant and sustaining pedagogy, and the societal and educational disenfranchisement of African American males.

The Penn GSE Recent Alumni/Early Career Award of Merit
Rina Madhani, GED’19

Rina Madhani recently completed her master’s degree in the Teaching, Learning, and Leadership program. Prior to her time at Penn, Rina spent two years serving with AmeriCorps. During this time, she addressed the growing literacy gap within east Harlem by coaching nearly 75 community volunteers to provide 1:1 instruction to struggling readers. She then transitioned into classroom teaching in the south Bronx, where she focused on cultivating an inquiry-based learning environment. As an educator in the Bronx, Rina witnessed the inequities inherent in our education system. She realized that a key barrier to literacy was access to books and a lack of culturally affirming spaces in and out of the classroom. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she co-founded Start Lighthouse to address childhood illiteracy through an intergenerational approach. Her organization is committed to creating access through customized literacy kits, programming with a racial justice lens, and community workshops for family members and caregivers. 

The Kwame Nkrumah Distinguished Alumni Award
Desmond Diggs, GED’16

Desmond Diggs earned his master’s degree in international education development from Penn GSE. Desmond is the Founder and Executive Director of Teach for Liberia, a member of the Teach For All Network which boasts a network nearly 60 partner programs including Teach For America, Teach First UK, Teach For Nigeria, and Lead For Ghana.

In September 2019, Teach for Liberia officially launched its program and its first cohort of teachers began leading classrooms in under-resourced communities. Just five months later, the nation’s schools closed to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19. Desmond and his team supported the Ministry in adopting virtual meeting platforms to improve its ability to communicate with critical stakeholders. In collaboration with its teaching fellows, the team designed an emergency community-based feeding program that would educate local residents about the virus and how to prevent its spread, while ensuring that families could participate in social distancing.

Nominations for the 2022 awards will open in the Fall.


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