Margaret A. McKenna, president of Suffolk University in Boston, is an educator and lawyer who has spent her career advocating for social justice. She was appointed Suffolk’s 10th president in 2015, the first woman to lead the University.
Since arriving at Suffolk, McKenna has reaffirmed the University’s commitment to its founding mission of improving lives through access to educational opportunity. Suffolk is a model urban university that takes an applied approach to the liberal arts and integrates broad-based learning with professional education. The University, with inextricable ties to the city of Boston, is uniquely situated to provide experiential learning opportunities and cutting-edge interdisciplinary programs centered on public policy, urban issues, entrepreneurship, and innovation. Suffolk imparts the knowledge and skills needed to change policies that improve our community and the world.
McKenna began her career as a civil rights attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice. Later in her career she served as the deputy counsel in the White House and as undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Education, and she led the education transition team for President Clinton.
McKenna’s experience in higher education includes serving as vice president of Radcliffe College, as president of Lesley University for 22 years, and as a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University.
While leading the Walmart Foundation from 2007 to 2011, McKenna created a strategy that emphasized hunger relief, education, and the economic empowerment of women. During her term, the foundation provided more than $900 million in grants annually.
McKenna is an author, speaker, and expert on issues of educational access, women’s economic empowerment, hunger, and social change leadership.
McKenna is the recipient of numerous national and local awards and 10 honorary degrees. She has served on five corporate boards and dozens of nonprofit boards and serves as the vice chair of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Board and sits on the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.