Dazell D. Washington
“Former educator committed to making a micro-level impact on people and a macro-level impact on businesses.”
Hometown: New Orleans, LA
Fun Fact About Yourself: I know the lyrics to every song on the Hercules soundtrack.
Undergraduate School and Major: Cornell University—Applied Economics & Management
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: KIPP Texas; Lead RTI Coordinator/7th Grade Math Teacher
What excites you most about studying in Washington, DC? Outside of the diversity of people and cultures within a short walk or scooter ride, I am excited by the mix of East Coast vibrancy and Southern charm present in the District.
Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of Georgetown McDonough’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I chose Georgetown McDonough because of its focus on international business. The program places a particular focus on strengthening students’ cross-cultural communication skills as well as building our cross-functional skill sets to make an impact in our respective careers on Day 1.
What course, club or activity excites you the most at Georgetown McDonough? I’m most excited to join the Black MBA Association. The Black MBA Association embodies a sense of “lifting as you climb” mentality for alumni, current students, and prospective students. Even before I became a McDonough student, members of the organization were instrumental in my exploration of the program, providing information that would benefit me in my MBA journey and beyond. I look forward to advancing the current and future McDonough community in a similar manner.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Following a promotion to the leadership team at the school where I taught, I was charged with sourcing and managing the roll-out of a blended learning platform for our students (an effort that struggled to gain traction in the five years I’d worked there). As many teachers felt apprehensive of the effort, I knew the team’s morale and buy-in would be key to my success. I engaged teachers by hosting sessions to explain the project approach, distributing surveys to capture their questions and feedback, and conducting regular learning sessions to address knowledge gaps. Leveraging design thinking principles, I managed an iterative process for both identifying the best platform and equipping the campus’ teachers.
While I faced numerous challenges throughout—including budget cuts, contract renegotiations, and the loss of our first-choice platform—the inclusive, collaborative approach led to independent use of the platform by 75% of teachers. The corresponding student population, on average, grew 1.25 grade levels within three months and 2 grade levels within six months of the launch. As my first formal leadership role, the initiative truly demonstrated that great leaders lead alongside their teams, elevating the voices and ideas of those at all levels — enlivening the proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? COVID-19 caused me to focus on positively impacting the well-being of my team. No one could have mentally or physically prepared for the shift to the 100% virtual learning environments. Knowing the personal and professional burdens my colleagues carried, I intentionally avoided adding to the visible and invisible weight my teammates were enduring. This mindset ignited a goal to lead each colleague’s interaction with questions like “How are you actually doing / feeling today”— and creating space and time for an answer.
The COVID crisis has been a reminder that my relationships are at the core of my professional success. It costs nothing to offer a listening ear in hopes of making a positive impact in someone’s life, and the results can be transformative for both parties involved.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? Working remotely gave me the opportunity to really reflect upon my career trajectory. After nearing a decade in education, an industry I love, I’d supported diverse students and teachers across a variety of content areas and functions. While I’d done a great deal of professional exploring, I recognized that pursuing continued growth would lead me to pursuing principalship or district leadership in the years to come. As I considered my career path, I realized there was no better time to explore a professional pivot that would jumpstart my own learning and development.
For the next phase of my career, I’m pursuing brand management roles within CPG. I’m excited to use my affinity for data and analytics to champion everyday brands and products.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? Ross School of Business, Darden School of Business, and Goizueta Business School
What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Georgetown McDonough’s MBA program? The best advice I received was to understand the significance and gravity of being me. As an applicant, reflect upon your experiences, values, and identity. Lean into those elements to bring your unique story to life in your application. By doing this, the admissions team can visualize how you’d fit into the McDonough community. Who will you be while on campus? What will you bring to the McDonough community as a student and alumni?
At McDonough, there are approximately 270 students in my graduating class and approximately 60 students in my cohort. While there are many similarities among the spread of students, none of us are the same. I can already see how our unique backgrounds enhance our learning—academically, cross-culturally, and beyond—and creates a distinct McDonough experience.