New Assistant Secretaries Joining U.S. Education Department

Archived Information

New Assistant Secretaries Joining U.S. Education Department

October 8, 2009

WASHINGTON -- Today, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan congratulated the following individuals for being confirmed by the Senate on Monday, Oct. 5 as assistant secretaries for the Department of Education: Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary for vocational and adult education; and Alexa E. Posny, assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services.


Brenda Dann-Messier has an extensive background in the field of adult education. Most recently Dann-Messier served as president of Dorcas Place, an Adult and Family Learning Center in Providence, R.I. Prior to her work at Dorcas Place, Dann-Messier worked at the Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory at Brown University. Dann-Messier also served in the Clinton administration as the regional representative for Region I in Boston under then-Secretary of Education Richard Riley. Prior to her work at the Department of Education, Dann-Messier directed two TRIO programs, the Rhode Island Educational Opportunity Center (1987-1993) and the Educational Talent Search Program (1991-1993) of the Community College of Rhode Island. Dann-Messier previously served as a member of the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education and chaired the Academic and Student Affairs subcommittee for the board. She received her B.A. and her M.Ed. from Rhode Island College and her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Johnson and Wales University.


Alexa E. Posny comes to the department from Kansas where she served as commissioner of education for the state. As commissioner, Posny was responsible for helping over 450,000 students meet or exceed high academic standards, licensing over 45,000 teachers and overseeing a state education budget of more than $4.5 billion. Prior to her work as commissioner, Posny served as the director of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) for the U.S. Department of Education, a position in which she assisted state and local efforts to effectively educate all children and youth with disabilities. Posny has also served as the Kansas deputy commissioner of education, Kansas state director of special education, director of special education for the Shawnee Mission School District, director of the Curriculum and Instruction Specialty Option as part of the Title I Technical Assistance Center (TAC) network of TACs across the United States, and a senior research associate at Research and Training Associates in Overland Park, Kan. Posny earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, a master’s degree in behavioral disabilities and a doctorate in educational administration both from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Posny has also served on the Board of Directors for the Chief State School Officers, the National Council for Learning Disabilities, and chaired the National Assessment Governing Board’s Special Education Task Force. Posny has also been a teacher at the elementary, middle school, high school and university levels.