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Dr. Johan E. Uvin joins the institute as executive director

Dr. Uvin replaces Eric Heller, who retires after a long career at UMass Donahue Institute

From Michael F. Malone, UMass Amherst Vice Chancellor for Research & Engagement:

I am very pleased to announce Dr. Johan E. Uvin will serve as the new Executive Director of the UMass Donahue Institute (UMDI) effective August 1, 2021.  His extensive leadership experience in public service at multiple levels of government and his work with the private sector are an excellent match to the mission and aspirations of the UMass Donahue Institute and the university.  

Established in 1971, the UMass Donahue Institute addresses critical questions and develops innovative solutions to help organizations and agencies throughout the world from both the public and private sector meet challenges, measure success, and set goals. UMDI frequently collaborates with faculty and staff from all five UMass campuses, connecting the inquiry and insight of academia with the urgency and pragmatism of the business world.  The Institute recently relocated from the President’s Office to the UMass Amherst community and is reporting through Research & Engagement.

Dr. Uvin served at the U.S. Department of Education from 2009-2017 as Senior Policy Advisor, then Deputy Assistant Secretary, and later Assistant Secretary (Acting).  At the Department of Education, he coordinated all strategy development for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) with a staff of 80 and over $1.7 billion in resources.  He led policy development and implementation for adult education, career and technical education, community colleges, immigrant integration, and government-wide efforts focused on youth not in education, training, or employment.

From 2017 to 2020 he was President of the Institute for Educational Leadership in Washington, DC. There he facilitated and implemented Rise Up for Equity, the Institute’s five-year strategic plan.  He has since founded Strategy Advising, a consulting practice that provides strategic advising services in education, workforce development, educational technology start-ups, and non-profit organizations.

Uvin earlier held various leadership positions with the Rhode Island Department of Education and with the Commonwealth Corporation in Boston.  He has also managed projects and programs in the Massachusetts Department of Education, and a number of non-profit organizations in Boston, Belgium, and Sierra Leone.

Uvin is a first-generation high school and college graduate. He trained in Europe as a secondary teacher and taught at a career and technical education high school.  In the U.S. he earned the Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from the School of International Training in Brattleboro, VT.  He received both his Master of Education in International Education and Doctor of Education in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy from Harvard University.   

Uvin received the prestigious Outstanding American by Choice award from Homeland Security when he was Assistant Secretary of Education under the Obama Administration and most recently was the recipient of the Harvard Alumni Council Award for outstanding contributions to education in the U.S.

Uvin will succeed Dr. Eric Heller, the current Executive Director who retires this week after more than 35 years at the Donahue Institute. He first joined the Donahue Institute in 1985, when he helped launch its Applied Research and Program Evaluation group. He was instrumental in developing the group’s approach to client-responsive, applied social science research and continually expanded its capacity to serve the needs of the Institute’s diverse clientele.

Carol Anne McGowan, UMDI Associate Director will serve as Interim Executive Director until August 1. Carol Anne works closely with the executive director to develop and implement management strategies, systems, and practices across the Institute. She is directly responsible for overseeing all fiscal and human resource functions.

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