Kathleen Straus, a member of the State Board of Education was first elected to the Board in November 1992; re-elected in 2000, again in 2008. She served six two-year terms as Past President, elected by her colleagues.
Mrs. Straus has committed the majority of her life to the furthering of public education and community services in Michigan. She has a strong interest in curriculum, assessment, and raising achievement for all students across the state. A frequent visitor to schools and classrooms, Mrs. Straus often spends time with parents, educators and others discussing educational policy and reform efforts to keep in touch with what’s going on in the field.
Until her retirement in 1991, Mrs. Straus was president of the Center for Creative Studies, a nationally recognized arts education institution in Detroit. Prior to that, she was director of government relations for the Michigan Association of School Boards, and served as staff director of the Education Committee of the Michigan Senate. She organized and was the executive director of PRO Detroit (People and Responsible Organizations for Detroit), a community-wide coalition of business, labor, parents, civic groups, and schools established to assure that court-ordered desegregation would be implemented smoothly and peacefully – it was! She previously worked in the administration of Detroit Mayor Jerome P. Cavanagh, and for the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.
Mrs. Straus served on the State Board for Public Junior and Community Colleges prior to being elected to the State Board of Education and was one of Michigan’s representatives to the Education Commission of the States, and a delegate to the Congressional Conference on Civic Education.
An active community leader, Mrs. Straus currently is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion the Advisory Board of the American Jewish Committee. She was a long time trustee of the Detroit Science Center and Communities in Schools – Detroit. She is a past president of the League of Women Voters of Detroit, and is still actively involved in promoting informed and active participation of citizens in government. She is also a past president of the American Jewish Committee, Detroit Region and Jewish Community Council of Metropolitan Detroit.
In these capacities she has fought discrimination and worked to build bridges between races, religious and ethnic groups, and to promote social justice and education.
Mrs. Straus is listed in “Who’s Who of American Women” and “Who’s Who in Education.” She has been elected to the Hall of Fame of Hunter College and the Michigan Education Hall of Fame in 1994. She received the “Distinguished Warrior” Award from the Detroit Urban League in March of 2000. She was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in October, 2000. In 2004 she was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Anti Defamation League. In 2011 the Federal Bar Association presented her the McCree Award for the Advancement of Social Justice.