Biography of Margaret McKenna

Margaret A. McKenna
Emmanuel College Alumna (1967)

Margaret A. McKenna, a native of Cumberland Rhode Island, graduated from Emmanuel College in 1967 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology before earning her Juris Doctorate from Southern Methodist University in 1971. McKenna began her career as a civil rights attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice. She has served as deputy counsel in the White House and as undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Education during the Jimmy Carter Administration Margarent A. McKenna '67 Speaks at a Podium, 1966-1967(1977-1981).

In 1985, Ms. McKenna was appointed President of Lesley College, a position she held until 2007. During McKenna’s 22 years as president at Lesley, the college grew from 2,000 to more than 10,000 students, from a college to a university and from a small regional college to a nationally recognized leader in teacher education. As president of the Walmart Foundation from 2007 to 2011, she created a strategy that emphasized hunger relief, education and the economic empowerment of women. Ms. McKenna led the transition team for President Bill Clinton (1993-2001), May Thomas Menino (1993–2014) and Governor Deval Patrick (2007–2015).

She has served as vice president of Radcliffe College and as a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University. Ms. McKenna was Visiting Professor at the Heller School of Social Policy at Brandeis University. She was the vice chair of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Board and sat on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Boston School Committee. Ms. McKenna served, for a brief period, as the President of Suffolk University.