Adrian Fenty has become a national leader in the area of urban education reform after changing the city’s public schools structure in his first months in office.
One of the youngest mayors of a major metropolitan U.S. city, rising political figure Adrian Fenty captured the nation’s attention during his term as Mayor of the District of Columbia. Celebrated for his leadership in urban education reform, the public school system in the D.C. had been troubled for years with poor student test performance scores and graduation rates among the lowest in the nation.
During his first months in office, he shocked the city—and the nation—by bringing the public school system under his administration’s control. That bold move and the addition of Michelle Rhee as Chancellor of Schools have credited Fenty with putting the school system on the path to long-awaited improvements inside and outside the classroom. The results speak for themselves: student achievement at the secondary level rose 14 points in reading and 17 points in math since 2007, gains that are unprecedented in DC history and unparalleled nationwide.
While focusing on improving schools, the Fenty Administration is also recognized for overhauling District agencies, ensuring more efficient and effective service delivery throughout city government. Government efficiency and accountability are among the key hallmarks of Fenty’s work as Mayor. He added more police officers to patrol the streets and expanded community policing; added thousands of affordable housing units; created the Housing First program which provides permanent supportive housing for homeless individuals and families; and improved the delivery of emergency medical services. As a result, homicides dropped to their lowest level since the 1960’s and both violent crimes and property crimes experienced a double-digit decline.
Fenty also championed development efforts across the city. Several schools, libraries, parks and recreation centers were renovated to offer state-of-the-art facilities for residents, youth and families. Fenty again made history by signing the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Act of 2009, to legalize same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia.
Prior to his sweeping victory in the 2006 election, Fenty had been re-elected for a second District Council term in 2004 and was elected to the Ward Four council seat in 2000 after defeating a four-term incumbent. Before his election to the Council, he was the lead attorney and counsel for the DC Council Committee on Education, Libraries and Recreation.
Born in the District, Mayor Fenty grew up in the city’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood. He attended District of Columbia Public Schools, including Woodrow Wilson High School, before graduating from Mackin High School. Fenty is a graduate of Oberlin College and earned a Juris Doctorate from Howard University Law School. After graduating from law school, Fenty served as an ANC Commissioner and President of the 16th Street Neighborhood Association.
A dynamic and captivating speaker, at the podium Mayor Fenty discusses the necessity for nationwide education reform, rebuilding the economy, developing urban infrastructure and remodeling the political arena.
A long-distance runner in high school, Mayor Fenty regularly takes part in triathlons and other races in the District and throughout the region. Mayor Fenty lives in D.C. with his wife Michelle and three children.