The Floretta McKenzie Education Award

James R. Woody, 2018 Floretta McKenzie Education Award Recipient

Mr. James R. Woody is the Executive Director and President of Bishop John T. Walker School for boys (BWS), an Episcopal School that welcomes boys from low income  families of all faith traditions. BWS exists uniquely in the DC education landscape to provide quality education for boys of color in southeast DC. It is committed to investing the energy and resources required to help improve the long-term prospects for the students entrusted into its care. In addition to its rigorous academic curriculum which includes a grounding in the arts, BWS emphasizes religious education and community service.

Mr. Woody, a native Washingtonian, holds both a Bachelor’s degree in history from Houghton College, Houghton, New York and a Master’s degree in counseling from Regent University, Virginia Beach, Virginia. He is an inspired non-profit educational professional with strong management, communication, and interpersonal facilitating skills. His strengths are in the areas of teambuilding, coaching, fund development and cross-cultural relationship building. He is passionately committed to the empowerment of families, at-risk individuals, and the development of disadvantaged communities.

Prior to becoming Executive Director and President of the Bishop Walker School, Mr. Woody honed his programmatic principles and the organizational elements of a successful educational program for young boys of color in the following positons: Executive Director- Communities in Schools of the Nation’s Capital (June 2004- March 2006), Executive Director – The Bowery Mission and Kids with Promise (2002-2004), National Director of Strategic Alliances (2000-2002), and President and CEO Community of Hope ( 1993-June 2000). 

The Floretta McKenzie Education Award recognizes individuals for outstanding leadership, service, and contributions in the public or charter education system.


The education award is named for Soror Floretta McKenzie,  Superintendent of DC Public Schools from 1981- 1988, who made a difference in the educational life of students. Soror McKenzie graduated with a Bachelor’s of Art Degree from D.C. Teachers College, where she was initiated into the Beta Iota Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.  She later received a Master’s  Degree from Howard University in education before beginning her career as a teacher in Maryland.  Soror McKenzie later rose through the Washington, DC school system and became deputy superintendent in 1973.  In 1974, she returned to Maryland and was hired as area assistant superintendent for Montgomery County Public Schools.  Soror McKenzie worked for the U.S. Department of Education as a deputy assistant secretary in the Office of School Improvement, managing fifteen federal education discretionary programs and initiatives. She also served as the US delegate to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) General Conference in Yugoslavia.

In 1981, Soror McKenzie returned to the D.C. Public Schools as the Superintendent of Schools and Chief State School Officer.  In this capacity, Soror McKenzie oversaw the country’s twenty-first-largest school system, managing 89,000 students, 13,000 employees and a $400 million budget.  Under her leadership, the District established several public and private partnerships to improve instructional programs and district management.  Soror McKenzie also oversaw the implementation of the Five-Year Computer Literacy Plan, one of the country’s first long-range programs for integrating technology into the public school curriculum.  Soror McKenzie left this position in 1988 to establish her own company, The McKenzie Group, an educational  consulting firm. Soror McKenzie had a distinguished record of more than forty years of service to education as both a school administrator and educational consultant.


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The Federal City Alumnae Chapter
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
P.O. Box 1605
Washington, D.C. 20013