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Alumni Achievements

Michael T. Nettles who earned a bachelor's degree at UT in political science in 1976 has been appointed by President Obama to the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. Dr. Nettles was serving as the Senior Vice President and Edmund W. Gordon Chair of the Policy Evaluation and Research Center at Educational Testing Service (ETS).

Nettles was previously Vice President of Policy Evaluation and Research from 2004 to 2006 and Executive Director of Policy Research from 2003 to 2004. Nettles was a Professor of Education at the University of Michigan from 1992 to 2003, and served as the first Executive Director of the Fredrick D. Patterson Research Institute of the United Negro College Fund from 1996 to 1999. 

"President Obama created the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans (hyperlink to because in the 60 years since the Brown v Board of Education decisions, African American students continue to lack equal access to a high-quality education and still lag far behind their White peers in reading and math proficiency, high school graduation rates, and college completion," Nettles said.

The initiative is a cross-agency effort aimed at identifying evidence-based practices that improve student achievement and developing a national network that shares these best practices.
According to the commission website, the initiative supports the president's desire to "restore the country to its role as the global leader in education, to strengthen the nation by improving educational outcomes for African Americans of all ages, and to help ensure that all African Americans receive an education that properly prepares them for college, productive careers, and satisfying lives."

Laurie Rowe, a 1995 graduate, was named a finalist for the 2015 Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Awards for Distinguished Government Employees in the District of Columbia.  This honor is bestowed upon five individuals who are nominated from a pool of 300 applicants and selected from among 20 finalists.   The program was established in 2000 to recognize and reward outstanding performance and exemplary service by DC Government employees.  

Laurie's supervisor called her recognition as one of this year's finalists "a magnificent acknowledgment of her growth as a District employee." Laurie was nominated based on her work as the Manager of the Department of Health Care (DHCF) Finance Public and Provider Services, Health Care Operations Administration. In particular she was recognized for the role she played in executing the agency's Medicaid billing project. 

DHCF was required to reform its approach for paying claims to public providers.  Together, DCPS and CFSA were responsible for nearly $60 million in Medicaid disallowances over a three-year period. Laurie was placed in charge of overseeing the development a billing project to restore integrity to the Medicaid public provider program.
Not only did her efforts help end the problem of federal disallowances for public provider reimbursements, they also substantially increased Medicaid reimbursements for the District's budget.  Notably, in the last three years, the District has secured more than $51 million in federal reimbursements without challenge from our regulators.  In the three years prior to this project, the District net loss on public provider reimbursements was around $6 million -- this means there has been an almost $60 million positive swing over three years in revenue from public provider billing. Her work made a noticeable difference in the lives of thousands of people.

Her supervisory, commended her work "watch[ing] Laurie play the lead role in this project for the better part of four years, I can say without question that her work defines the standard of excellence that we seek at DHCF and I am delighted that she was selected as one of the 20 finalists for the 2015 Cafritz Awards." We wholeheartedly concur.

Laurie has established the Kathryn Barnett Green Book Award in honor of her grandmother.

Michelle Johnson, a 2006 graduate and second-grade teacher, received the Milken Educator Award for her work at Seaton Elementary School in Washington, DC. The Milken Educator Awards, created in 1987, provide public recognition and a $25,000 individual financial reward to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals, and specialists from around the country who are furthering excellence in education.

During Michelle's first year at Seaton Elementary—located a short distance from the White House in the historic Shaw neighborhood—her students had serious academic deficits. Through her efforts, her students have excelled, gaining at least five book levels with many having double-digit growth.

Following her time at UT, Johnson earned a Master of Professional Studies in political management from the George Washington University. After working for a political polling firm, a lobbying firm, and on Capitol Hill as a legislative correspondent for a house member, she transitioned into the classroom through the New Teacher Project. She has taught in Maryland, overseas in Abu Dhabi, and now for DC Public Schools.

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