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Johan Uvin to Receive HGSE's 2020 Alumni Council Award

This year's honoree is a longtime U.S. Department of Education leader and the current president of the equity-focused Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL)
Johan Uvin

Johan Uvin

Photo: Institute for Educational Leadership

Johan Uvin, Ed.M.’99, Ed.D.’03, is the 2020 recipient of the Alumni Council Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education. Since 2017, Uvin has served as president of the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL), an organization committed to training leaders in under-resourced communities to prepare young people for meaningful pathways to higher education, careers, and civic engagement. IEL’s objective is to achieve equity in education and professional development by training strong leaders who can help close educational access and achievement gaps.

“It means so much to receive this award,” said Uvin. “It is a true honor to be recognized by my peers as an individual who has dedicated his career to achieving greater equity in education and in society at large.”

Prior to his appointment with IEL, Uvin held several leadership roles with the U.S. Department of Education, focusing largely on policy research and evaluation services to improve transitions from school to the workforce and to bolster outcomes for vulnerable young people. His first position was as a senior policy adviser to the assistant secretary of the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE), before being promoted to OCTAE’s deputy assistant secretary for policy and strategic initiatives and, most recently, the acting assistant secretary. He also served as co-chair of the Interagency Forum on Disconnected Youth, a multi-agency federal collaboration to improve the outcomes of disconnected youths.

Uvin has also spent the past decade serving on the Domestic Policy Council’s New American Citizenship and Integration Initiative’s steering committee. This forum considers domestic policy and oversees the development of the U.S. President’s domestic policy agenda, including crafting a federal framework for immigrant integration efforts.

Before serving in the U.S. Department of Education, Uvin was the director of the Rhode Island Department of Education’s Office of Adult and Career and Technical Education. In this role, he led a team focused on redesigning secondary education and creating multiple pathways to high school graduation.

“Johan’s work highlights that HGSE's impact extends well beyond the usual K-12 space,” said Hanna Rodriguez-Farrar, Ed.M.’05, Ed.D.’13, co-chair of the HGSE Alumni Council. “His work spans the classroom, to state policymaking, to federal policymaking, to nonprofits — an impressive breadth of impact.”

Uvin’s education policy expertise stems largely from his professional and academic experience, including his doctorate in administration, planning, and social policy from HGSE, as well as his Ed.M. in international education policy, also from Harvard. He also holds an additional master’s degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) from the School of International Training.

“HGSE has transformed my life and career,” said Uvin. “It changed my world view. It allowed me to develop research, policy, administrative, and negotiating skills that I use every day in my work. But perhaps most importantly, it deepened my commitment to social and racial justice and provided me with frameworks, thought processes, and tools that allow me to push for policies that lead to greater equity every day.”

Adds Alumni Council Co-Chair Austin Volz, Ed.M.’13, “As HGSE aims to empower its graduates to learn to change the world, Johan's work serves as an inspiration to that mission.”

Since 1985, the Alumni Council Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education has been given out to HGSE alumni who have served education in significant ways throughout their careers. All HGSE alumni, faculty, and staff are encouraged to submit nominations.