National Writing Project

University Educator Chosen to Lead National Writing Project

Dr. Sharon J. Washington Selected to Build on Success of Professional Development Organization

For Immediate Release


Berkeley, CA, December 4, 2007 — A nationwide search has led to the selection of Dr. Sharon J. Washington to serve as Executive Director of the National Writing Project (NWP), a prestigious teacher professional development organization dedicated to improving writing and learning in the nation's schools. Located on nearly 200 university and college campuses across the country, and working in partnership with K-12 schools, local writing project sites provide high-quality, sustained professional development for teachers that leads to improved student achievement in writing.

Dr. Washington will assume her new position on January 1, replacing Richard Sterling, who announced last June that he would step down in early 2008.

"We are thrilled that Dr. Washington has accepted the position as NWP's new executive director," said NWP Board Chairman Dan Boggan. "Dr. Washington's clear dedication to improving writing instruction, keen understanding of the importance of school-university partnerships, and rich background exploring diversity and equity issues make her uniquely qualified to take on this position and lead the organization to meet the challenges facing today's teachers."

Dr. Washington recently completed work as the Interim Director of Faculty Equity Programs at the University of California Office of the President in Oakland, California. Before moving to California, she held a number of academic positions, including Provost and Vice-President of Academic Affairs at Spelman College in Atlanta. Throughout her career, Dr. Washington has demonstrated a strong commitment to the importance of high-quality literacy instruction for all students, and professional development for teachers across the K-16 spectrum. As the Founding Director of Project SPIRIT at Springfield College in Massachusetts, Dr. Washington developed an advising system that improved student retention and graduation, created a teacher preparation mentor program with K-12 teachers, and led a collaborative K-16 partnership that designed and implemented an academic enrichment program to encourage high school students of color to attend college.

"I am truly honored to be selected as the NWP's new executive director," said Dr. Washington. "I was drawn to the NWP because of its commitment to providing high-quality professional development for all teachers to help students improve their writing and learning. NWP's mission is directly aligned with my lifelong commitment to social justice and to helping all students succeed. Through my experience teaching writing-intensive courses at the university level, I am well aware of the challenges involved in providing exemplary writing instruction.

"I look forward to working with NWP's talented staff and the dedicated network of writing project directors and teachers around the country to further the outstanding progress this organization has already achieved," she added.

With the mission of improving writing and learning instruction for all students, the NWP maintains a steadfast commitment to addressing issues of equity and diversity. Dr. Washington will be able to draw upon her impressive previous work to build on NWP programs such as Project Outreach, an initiative first undertaken in 1995 to increase writing project services to teachers and schools serving low-income communities and to increase the diversity of teacher leadership.

Dr. Washington received her Ph.D. in Education in 1988 from The Ohio State University in Columbus. She is the first woman and African American chosen to lead the NWP and is only the third individual to take the helm in its 33-year history. Richard Sterling, who has been the organization's executive director since 1994, will return to teaching at the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley. The NWP was founded by James Gray, NWP's first executive director, in 1974.


The National Writing Project is the most significant coordinated effort to improve writing in America. NWP sites, located on nearly 200 university and college campuses, serve more than 135,000 educators annually. NWP continues to add new sites each year with the goal of placing the writing project within reach of every teacher in America. Through its professional development model, NWP develops the leadership, programs, and research needed for teachers to help students become successful writers and learners. For more information, visit

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