Back to: Alliance Blog

Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier Joins Linked Learning Alliance Board

April 26, 2022 | Linked Learning Alliance

April 28, 2022

Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier Joins Linked Learning Alliance Board

Former U.S. Department of Education Appointee Brings Deep Expertise Spanning K–12, CTE, and Postsecondary as Alliance Prepares to Grow Its Reach and Impact

Contact: Rachel Zaentz, Linked Learning Alliance,, 202.525.9864

SAN FRANCISCO—The Linked Learning Alliance is pleased to welcome a new board member to the organization. Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier, former Rhode Island Commissioner of Postsecondary Education and former Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education in the U.S. Department of Education, will serve as the newest member of the Linked Learning Alliance Board of Directors. Dr. Dann-Messier’s appointment will increase the capacity and expertise of the Alliance to accelerate the adoption of high-quality Linked Learning educational pathways that engage youth, strengthen workforce readiness, and advance equity and economic justice.

Dr. Dann-Messier joins the Alliance board of directors as a longtime advocate for educational equity with extensive experience working at the intersection of K–12 and postsecondary education. Her diverse expertise and insight will enhance the Alliance’s work to make high-quality, integrated college and career preparation available to more students when it matters most to their future.

The Linked Learning approach integrates rigorous academics with real-world learning and strong support services to help young people discover their purpose and inspire them to succeed in college and career. A multi-year independent evaluation shows that students in certified Linked Learning pathways have decreased dropout rates, higher graduation rates, more credits earned, more college preparatory courses completed, and improved 21st-century skills compared with similar peers in traditional high schools. Linked Learning has especially positive effects for students who start high school behind academically and for students of color.

“The evidence grounding Linked Learning speaks for itself. Linked Learning is proven to keep young people—particularly those who have been systemically underserved—engaged in learning and on a path to postsecondary success,” said Dr. Dann-Messier. “Every young person deserves the opportunity to graduate high school and pursue their college and career interests. Yet, systemic barriers prevent too many youth and young adults from continuing their upward trajectory through postsecondary. I am honored to partner with the Alliance to expand Linked Learning opportunities that transform student learning, provide students with comprehensive social and emotional supports, and put equity at the center.”

Currently, Dr. Dann-Messier is a senior advisor for the Education Strategy Group. From 2017 to 2019, she was Commissioner of Postsecondary Education for the State of Rhode Island. She served as Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2014, and from 2013 to 2014 she also served as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education. Prior to her time with the U.S. Department of Education, Dr. Dann-Messier was the President of Dorcas Place Adult and Family Learning Center for a decade and directed two TRIO programs providing outreach to students from systemically underserved communities at the Community College of Rhode Island.

“For far too long, many students have faced an 'or'—deemed to be college material, or not. Tracked for college-bound academic studies or trained for a trade. Dr. Dann-Messier has dedicated her entire career to making learning more relevant and engaging—and giving all students access to the full range of postsecondary possibilities,” said Anne Stanton, President, and CEO of the Linked Learning Alliance. “I am beyond confident that Dr. Dann-Messier’s expertise, coupled with her deep commitment to advancing equity and strengthening student outcomes, will help catapult the Linked Learning movement into a new era of progress and growth.”

The Linked Learning Alliance leads a movement to connect all young people to college, career, and purpose. Dr. Dann-Messier’s appointment to its board positions the Alliance and its partners across education, industry, and communities to reach this ambitious aim.