Dr. Annmarie Kent-Willette, an award-winning educator and communications expert, will serve as Jacksonville’s education commissioner, Mayor Alvin Brown announced today at Jacksonville University. Dr. Kent-Willette will serve on-loan from Jacksonville University for a term of two years.
“As a parent, accomplished professional and educator, Dr. Kent-Willette brings passion and insight into this important role to build partnerships and advocate for quality education throughout Jacksonville,” said Mayor Brown. “We’ve already made great progress with efforts to build mentorship, expose more young people to the possibility of college and promote financial literacy for all ages. We must continue to intensify our focus and work together. The education commissioner plays a key role.” Read more
Dr. Kent-Willette has been widely honored for her work in education, most recently as a three-time First Coast Scholar, where she was selected to teach seminars to K-12 teachers and academic coaches at the Schultz Center for Teaching and Leadership in Duval County. She was selected as the 2008 Jacksonville University Woman of the Year, where she has taught as a professor of communications since 2001.
"I welcome the chance to represent JU, work with Mayor Brown and continue the great work of Dr. Horner as I advocate for quality education in our city,” Dr. Kent-Willette said. “As an educator, I believe we all must work together so students have extraordinary opportunities for educational success. I thank President Cost for his support and commitment to the greater Jacksonville community."
Dr. Kent-Willette serves as the higher education representative to the board of the Florida Associated Press Broadcasters, and has been an active leader in JU's shared governance, serving as a vice chair of its Faculty Senate. As a former television journalist, Dr. Kent-Willette teaches a variety of communications and service-learning classes domestically and internationally.
The Office of the Education Commissioner is funded by public-private partnerships at no cost to Duval County taxpayers. Dr. Donald Horner, Jr., Jacksonville University’s chief government and community affairs officer, served on loan as education commissioner at the cost of a ceremonial $1 based on a public-private partnership forged by Mayor Brown and former Jacksonville University president Dr. Kerry Romesburg.
“We at Jacksonville University are thrilled to be able to provide another highly skilled, passionate advocate for education to our city,” said Jacksonville University President Tim Cost. “Dr. Horner made tremendous inroads with the community as the city’s founding education commissioner, and I have no doubt that Dr. Kent-Willette will bring the same leadership and talent to this position for our schools and residents.”
Since Mayor Brown established the Office of the Education Commissioner by executive order in 2011, the Brown administration has initiated programs to support educational opportunity throughout Duval County. Learn2Earn has offered more than 200 local high school students college application counseling and the opportunity to experience life on local college campuses in order to inspire them toward higher education goals. The Mayor’s Mentors campaign placed nearly 600 new mentors in Duval County Public Schools to serve as role models and form positive, encouraging relationships with students.
The Education Commissioner reports directly to Mayor Brown and acts as his senior policy advisor for all matters pertaining to education. Dr. Horner served as Jacksonville’s first education commissioner until his two-year term ended this year.