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Dawn Brill Duques

Dawn Brill Duques, who recently joined TC's Board of Trustees, is a proven educator, businesswoman and philanthropist.

New TC Trustee Dawn Brill Duques (M.A., ’76) brings a lot to the table

Dawn Brill Duques, who recently joined TC’s Board of Trustees, is a proven educator, businesswoman and philanthropist, as well as a mother of four and a self-described “corporate wife” to Ric, her husband of 43 years. She’s also good at being on boards—and, in general, at tackling head on the kinds of complex problems boards face.

Partly that’s the result of experience. Duques has been a member of the Board of Trustees at Mitchell College and is a member of the National Council on Education and Human Development at The George Washington University. She has also served on TC’s President’s Advisory Council.

But it also reflects a determination to succeed, a love of learning and a natural bent for thinking pragmatically and taking the initiative.

Duques has a learning disability and did not read until she was in the fourth grade. Yet she went on to earn an A.A. at Mitchell College; a B.A. at The George Washington University; an M.A. from Teachers College; and, recently, an Ed.D. from NOVA Southeastern University. She even took off time from her education studies to get a second A.A. in Culinary Arts from the Art Institute in Ft. Lauderdale.

Education is where her heart lies, Duques says—as an instructor as much as a learner. She has managed to teach virtually all of the elementary grades, including a seminar of gifted sixth graders, as well as business English and ethics at a business school. And though she had to scale back her work when her family abruptly doubled in size—she and Ric and their son, David, were joined by triplets—she never left the education field. At first she ran a play school at home for children who were the same age as the triplets. Once the trio started kindergarten, she took on the responsibility of co-directing a preschool. She also enjoyed doing some substituting.

When the triplets entered the fourth grade in Tenafly, New Jersey, Duques started the first two after-school programs in the area. Three years later, there were eight. They were not only a valuable resource for working parents but also a source of funds to strengthen the overall school system.

At the same time, the Tenafly public school system was threatening to stop funding its very busy school for continuing education. Duques took it over—and made it profitable, too.

The Duqueses left Tenafly when the triplets went off to college, but Duques has kept busy. Since picking up the A.A. in culinary arts, she has become involved in renovating the family’s hotel and its two restaurants. She also does freelance writing and speaks on education-related topics, while continuing her board service.

In Duques’s view, some educational institutions (as well as many other non-profits) aren’t “getting the most out of a valuable asset they have—their boards.” She enlarged on that point in her doctoral thesis, which focuses on the courting and orientation of trustees.

In addition to applying her board-related expertise to TC, Duques hopes to help the College get more involved with New York City’s public schools. “As society evolves, how we must reach our children must evolve,” she says. “Teachers College has so much to bring to the table.”

So does its new trustee.

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