Home > Awards > 2015 State Award Winners

Dr. Robert W. Rupert Award

Joanne Durkee

Joanne Durkee has worked at the local, state, and national level supporting and impacting adult education in California for over 37 years. At the local level, Joanne first served adults in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, concurrently filling the roles of a school coordinator, career center coordinator and adult education teacher. During these first years of Joanne’s work in adult education, she became the voice of adults in the community who needed access to career training and employment opportunities. This initial advocacy work was the genesis of Joanne’s lifelong mission in adult education: ensuring that all adults have access to high-quality programs and training for job and career advancement through their local K-12-based adult education programs. This essential local work continues today. 

Joanne continued expanding the scope of her local advocacy for employment and career training opportunities for all adult students through her role as Vice Principal of Mt. Diablo Adult Education, 1995-2002. However, during this period she also began to expand her scope of influence in advocating for adult education regionally and at the state level through her affiliation with and service in/to the Concord Status of Women Commission, Soroptomist International of Diablo Valley, California Commission on the Status of Women, and the Coastal Council Vocational Education Association - Women Work! - The National Network for Women’s Employment as well as co-founding and serving as President of the Board of Directors of the California Displaced Homemakers Network. The positions she held in Mt. Diablo Adult Education prior to becoming an administrator were: adult education teacher, Community Schools Coordinator, Gender Equity Coordinator, Regional Coordinator for Project TIDE, Career Center Coordinator, Coordinator of Special Resources, and Consultant/Technical Assistant for Project TEAM. 

All of Joanne’s many community collaborations have been critically important to furthering the wide community outreach and subsequent delivery of adult education services locally, regionally and at the state level. Joanne was a charter member of the EastBay Works Career Centers in Contra Costa County and the One-Stop Consortium in Concord which has resulted in most adult schools becoming partners in local One Stop Career Centers. She has served as the adult education representative on the Workforce Investment Board and on its Youth Council Executive Board. She has worked in collaboration with
•    Project Second Chance
•    Monument Corridor Project
•    St. Vincent DePaul, Neighborhood Youth Corps
•    Diablo Valley College
•    Ozanam Center for Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation
•    The Battered Women’s Alternative
•    The Contra Costa Private Industry Council
•    Mt. Diablo Vocational Rehabilitation Services

In the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, Joanne has been serving since 2006 as the Director of College and Career & Adult Education. As Director, she serves on the Superintendent’s Cabinet, administers the Carl B. Perkins Grant for all MDUSD K-12 schools and also administers the district-wide Career Integrated Academics (CIA) program for MDUSD K-12. 

As an MDUSD Director Joanne also represents the school district on the East Bay Leadership Council Executive Board and leads the Council’s Education Task Force as a co-chair. She also represents MDUSD on the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce and in the current Diablo Gateways to Innovation (DGI) Grant for the California Career Pathways Trust Consortium for the Contra Costa County region. For a number of years Joanne has also been in collaboration with other community leaders to annually host “Best Day K-12: Business and Educators Shadowing for Tomorrow,” a business-to-education program benefiting teachers and students not only in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District but in neighboring school districts as well. 

At the state level, Joanne served as the Regional Representative to Women Work! - The National Network for Women’s Employment and served on the State Executive Boards of California Career Preparation (CALCP) and the California Regional Occupational Centers and Programs (CAROC/P). In addition, she has been a CALPRO Leadership Institute presenter for new adult education directors in California as well as one of two Regional Representatives to the California Department of Education (CDE) Field Partnership Team 2007-2014 on behalf of San Francisco Bay Area Adult Education programs. Joanne has also served for many years in numerous leadership roles in the California Adult Education Administrators Association (CAEAA), most recently as a Member-at-Large. 

Joanne has helped Mt. Diablo Adult Education move from regional to national standing through her guidance of Mt. Diablo Adult Education staff during a two-year national accreditation process by the Council for Occupational Education (COE). In June 2014, the Mt. Diablo Adult Education’s Career Technical Education Center (CTEC) received this important national accreditation. In addition, many of the Career Technical Education (CTE) programs of Mt. Diablo Adult Education are now nationally recognized as a result of Joanne’s guidance in upgrading curriculum, facilities and student services.

Some additional offices Joanne has held over the years of her service in education and community work are: 
Program Chair and Vice-President/Treasurer of the Coastal Council Vocational Education Association; Co-founder and President of Board of Directors of the California Displaced Homemakers Network; CDE and California Association of Work Experience Education (CAWEE) Work Permit Certification in November 2010-2013, overseeing the MDUSD Work Experience Program during this time; and, Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce Business/Education Committee Chair 2013-2014. 

Joanne is also the recipient of many awards recognizing her abilities, talents and service in the various educational leadership capacities in which she has served adult students. Some of these honors and awards are: 

Exceptional Leadership and Outstanding Service to California Equity Programs in 1990; California Commission on Status of Women in recognition of dedicated service to the affairs of her community and for her numerous contributions for the benefit of the women in California in 1992: Concord Status of Women Commission, Women Helping Women Award in 1996; Soroptomist International of Diablo Valley, Very Important Woman Award in 1992; California Commission on the Status of Women, California Woman Commendation in 1992; Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year 2013-2014; ACSA Charter Adult Education Award in 2013; California State Assembly Certificate of Recognition as Adult Education Administrator of the Year, ACSA Region 6 in 2013; and, Senate Certificate of Recognition as Adult Education Administrator of the Year, ACSA Region 6 in 2013.