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Military retiree tapped as new DoDEA director

Mar. 10, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
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A retired Army colonel with 12 years of experience in education administration in public schools has been named the new director of the Department of Defense Education Activity.

DoDEA spokesman Frank O’Gara said that as far as the activity can determine, Thomas M. Brady is the first retired service member to head DoDEA, though he is not the first veteran to serve in the position.

Among Brady’s tours of duty in his 25 years in the Army were commander of Fort Belvoir, Va., and battalion commander at Fort Benning, Ga.

DoDEA operates schools in grades kindergarten through 12 both stateside and overseas, overseeing 191 schools in 14 districts, serving more than 82,000 students.

Brady’s most recent public school experience was as the superintendent of the Providence, R.I., public schools, from 2008 to 2011. Before that, he served as chief executive officer for the School District of Philadelphia, chief operating officer of the District of Columbia Public Schools and COO for Fairfax County (Va.) Public Schools.

“Mr. Brady brings to DoDEA valuable experience and skills in successfully leading some of this country’s largest school districts through difficult challenges,” said Frederick Vollrath, assistant secretary of defense for readiness and force management, in a statement announcing the selection.

He also understands the importance of DoDEA schools as a critical quality-of-life factor for military families around the world as well as the unique challenges military-connected students and their families face every day.”

Brady takes the reins from Adrian B. Talley, who has been serving as DoDEA’s acting director since November 2013 when former director Marilee Fitzgerald retired from government service. Talley will return to his position as DoDEA’s principal deputy director and associate director for education.

“Mr. Brady’s unique combination of military leadership and public school district administrative experience should be an asset to DoDEA in tough budget times as it works to meet its mission of providing high quality education to military children,” said Joyce Raezer, executive director of the National Military Family Association.

“Military families will expect him to use his knowledge of the challenges they face and to address the high expectations they have for their children’s schools in all decisions about the educational programs offered by DoDEA,” Raezer said. “We congratulate Mr. Brady and hope he will encourage the best in educational leadership at the headquarters level, the schools, and in each individual classroom.”

Union leaders are also optimistic about the selection. “Mr. Brady has a reputation for working with educators, not against them, to foster student achievement and we look forward to having a productive and respectful working relationship with him,” said Chuck McCarter, president of the Federal Education Association, in a statement. “DoDEA schools have a long record of excellence and we are confident that under Mr. Brady’s leadership, that reputation will reach new heights.”

According to the press release announcing Brady’s selection, under his leadership in Providence, student achievement and proficiency improved in mathematics, science and reading. The district is the largest in Rhode Island, serving more than 24,000 students in 45 schools.

In Philadelphia, faced with operational budget deficits at the eighth largest school system in the country, Brady, as chief executive officer, initiated and began implementing measures to reduce operating budget shortfalls.

In the District of Columbia, as chief operating officer for the public schools, he secured more than $3.1 billion for capital improvements over 10 years.

In Fairfax County, as COO, he led the public school system’s education support division.

Before his selection as DoDEA’s director, Brady was a senior adviser with Alvarez and Marsal’s Public Sector Services Team, helping states and local school districts restore sustainable education programs, according to the DoDEA announcement.

Brady is a graduate of the Broad Superintendents Academy. He earned his Master of Arts in human resources management from Pepperdine University in California and his Bachelor of Arts degree in education from Niagara University in New York.

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