About Us

President Obama with African American youthNearly 60 years since the Brown v Board of Education decisions, African American students continue to lack equal access to a high quality education and still lag far behind their white peers in reading and math proficiency, high school rates, and college completion.

That’s why President Obama created the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. The Initiative is a cross-agency effort aimed at identifying evidence-based practices that improve student achievement, and developing a national network that shares these best practices.

The Initiative will support the President’s desire to “restore the country to its role as the global leader in education, to strengthen the nation by improving educational outcomes for African Americans of all ages, and to help ensure that all African Americans receive an education that properly prepares them for college, productive careers, and satisfying lives” including in the the following ways:

  • Highlighting the role of educators and administrators in increasing and improving access to high quality learning opportunities while also finding ways to support them in their work;
  • Supporting efforts to increase the number of African American teachers and administrators, specifically the number of African American males in the profession;
  • Enhancing investments in high quality early care and education programs, specifically increasing the number of African American children enrolled in quality childcare and preschool programs;
  • Reinforcing connections to rigorous K-12 courses and increasing access to critical supports, including by strengthening relationships between schools and communities and local businesses, social service agencies, health care providers, and parent and volunteer organizations; and by
  • Helping to increase the number of African American students applying to, persisting in and successfully completing college to ensure that we meet the President’s 2020 goal of becoming the world leader in college graduates.


Initiative Staff

David J. Johns, Executive Director

David Johns, Executive Director

David Johns, Executive Director

David J. Johns is the executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. The Initiative works across federal agencies and with partners and communities nationwide to produce a more effective continuum of education programs for African American students. Prior to joining the Department, Johns was a senior education policy advisor to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) under the leadership of Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. Before working for the Senate HELP committee under Chairman Harkin, Johns served under the leadership of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. Johns also was a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Fellow in the office of Congressman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. Johns has worked on issues affecting low-income and minority students, neglected youth and early childhood education and with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). His research as an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow served as a catalyst to identify, disrupt and supplant negative perceptions of black males within academia and society. Johns is committed to volunteer services and maintains an active commitment to improve literacy among adolescent minority males. Johns obtained a master’s degree in sociology and education policy at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he graduated summa cum laude while simultaneously teaching elementary school in New York City. He graduated with honors from Columbia University in 2004 with a triple major in English, creative writing and African American studies. Johns was named to the Root100 in both 2014 and 2013, selected as a member of the Ebony Power 100 in 2015 and received an early career award from Columbia University, Teachers College in 2016.


Lauren C. Mims, Assistant Director

Assistant Director

Lauren Mims, Assistant Director

Lauren C. Mims is the assistant director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. The Initiative works to strengthen the Nation by improving educational outcomes for African Americans of all ages, and to help ensure that all African Americans receive an education that properly prepares them for college, productive careers, and satisfying lives. Ms. Mims focuses her efforts on strategic planning and management of projects and priorities including mobilizing youth voice, supporting interagency relationships, the development of research-based publications, creating handbooks and resources for students, and engaging with stakeholders through multi-media platforms.  Ms. Mims was previously a fellow in the office. She has extensive experience developing and implementing communication strategies, analyzing and interpreting evaluation and research findings in education and integrating research findings across programs and organizational lines, as well as developing, implementing and evaluating evidence-based interventions for African American students. Mims received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Psychology from the University of Virginia in 2012 and a Master of Arts degree in Child Development from Tufts University in 2014. She is also pursuing her doctorate at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education in Educational Psychology: Applied Developmental Science.


Monique Toussaint, Management and Program Analyst

Monique Toussaint, Management and Program Analyst

Monique Toussaint served as a Program Officer in the Parental Options and Information (POI) division of the Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII). This dynamic federal employee has provided technical assistance to the grantees of the Parental Information and Resource Center (PIRC) program, Magnet Schools Assistance program, Full-Service Community Schools program, Promise Neighborhoods program and the DC Opportunity Scholarship program. In addition to developing, implementing and evaluating programs, she administered multiple contracts including a contract with SEDL and its subcontractor Harvard Family Research Project; played a leadership role in the integration of a family engagement framework that informs the practices and policies of the Department; served as a Corporate Recruiter; and was a founding member of the Family and Community Engagement Strategy team.

Prior to joining the federal government, Monique held positions in the Leadership Development Division at the Institute of International Education; the Institute of College Preparation at Georgetown University’s Center for Multicultural Equity and Access; Sallie Mae’s Kids2College DC; American University’s Career Center; and participated in a two week Delegation on Business in China with the International Scholar Laureate Program.

Monique holds a M.A. in Education and Human Development from George Washington University and a B.S. in Business Administration from the Kogod School of Business at American University in Washington, DC. She enjoys helping others help themselves, served as a tutor with Horton’s Kids, is the President of the Rotary Club of Dupont Circle, and was an inaugural member and Professional Development Co-Chair of the YWCA’s newly established Young Women’s Leadership Council. Passionate about empowering others, she is an Adjunct Instructor for the Adult Basic Education program at Prince George’s Community College and received the 2013 Martin Luther King Drum Major for Service President’s Volunteer Service Award.


Interns & Fellows

Interns and Leadership at the Initiative

Interns and Leadership at the Initiative

  • Andrene Jones-Castro – Summer 2016 Intern
  • Brittany-Rae Gregory – Summer 2016 Intern
  • Caitlyn Homol -Summer 2016 Intern
  • Justin Lang – Summer 2016 Intern
  • Everton Blair – Summer 2016 LEE Policy and Advocacy Fellow


President's Advisory Commission at their recent Capitol Hill meetingPresident’s Advisory Commission at their September 2015 Capitol Hill meeting

President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans Meeting Transcripts