Twenty-five years after graduating from the University of Tennessee, Tomeka Hart (CEHHS, ’93) returned to her alma mater to receive an Accomplished Alumni Award.
Hart, now the Senior Program Officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, received the Accomplished Alumni Award on Friday, September 7 at the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences Board of Advisors meeting.
The award was granted in recognition of her career and her work in the communities that she has served. Hart is currently serving in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences on the Dean’s Board of Advisors.
Tomeka has always maintained interest in the University of Tennessee. She attends every Homecoming that she is not traveling, and in fall of 2017, she offered her insight to the cohort of aspiring school leaders studying with The Center for Educational Leadership.
“Attending the University of Tennessee was a life-changing experience for me,” Hart said. “In addition to finding life-long friendships, I developed deep intellectual curiosity, strong leadership skills, and the self-confidence needed for success in life and career.”
Hart graduated from UT in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science in Business and Marketing Education. Since then, Hart went on to earn her Master of Business Administration from Kennesaw State University and her Juris Doctor from the University of Memphis.
“She has represented educators in the classroom, on school boards, within our state, out in the community and even around the globe. Her diverse background brings a unique perspective on education to our Board of Advisors as well. We are honored to call her an alumna of our college,” Bob Rider, Dean of the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, said.
Much of Hart’s work has been in education. She served as the Vice President of the African American Community Partnership for Teach for America. Before that, she was the President and CEO of the Memphis Urban League. She also served on the Memphis School Board from 2005 to 2013 and is a former middle and high school teacher. In 2010, Hart co-led the movement to combine Memphis City and Shelby County school systems.
Governor Bill Haslam appointed her as a Commissioner of the Education Commission of the States in 2011. Former Governor, Phil Bredesen, selected her for Tennessee’s Race to the Top team. He also appointed her to the state’s Teacher Evaluation Advisory Committee and the First to the Top Advisory Council.
As a first-generation college student, Hart quickly realized she had not been equipped with enough organization and planning skills needed to succeed in college.
“I have dedicated my life’s work to ensuring other students like me have the resources for success in college from day one,” Hart said.