Marla M. Dean is a native Detroiter. For over a decade, she has lived in southeast Washington, D.C. With nearly, 30 years in teaching and educational leadership in District of Columbia, Maryland, Michigan, and Virginia, Marla is leader in the two generational and whole child approaches. Currently, Marla is the Executive Director and CEO of Bright Beginnings Inc., a non-profit, community-based organization that operates two-generation early childhood and family learning centers for children and families experiencing homelessness in Washington, D.C.
Marla believes in educating the whole child with excellence and equity by ensuring each and every child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged. She is a committed, passionate, and resolved advocate who believes in the potential of all children. With over 15 years of educational leadership and non-profit experience. However, she is most proud of her 10 years of teaching experience in Detroit Public Schools where she taught high school English and government in the comprehensive neighborhood, alternative and magnet high school settings.
Marla attended The University of Michigan for both her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and her Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning. She also holds an Education Specialist from Michigan State University in Educational Leadership. Finally, Marla completed her doctorate studies at University of Pennsylvania in Educational Leadership and Organizational Theory.
Marla has received numerous recognitions. In 2012, As a turnaround principal, Marla’s middle school was selected as one of ten schools internationally to participate in the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development’s Whole Child Network of Schools. ASCD established the Whole Child Network of Schools to assess the implementation and sustainability of the ASCD Whole Child approach to education, which aims to establish an environment that best helps students learn and achieve. In 2013, Marla received the Community Service Award by the Board of Education of Prince George’s County for her commitment to children and in the 2017, she received Grassroots Award from the D.C. Federation of Civic Associations, Inc. She also received the Outstanding Service Award by the Change Create Transform Foundation. In 2018, Marla was named a CityBridge Foundation Education Innovation Entrepreneur Fellow.
In 2020, under Marla’s leadership, Bright Beginnings was honored with the Community Partner Award from Leadership Greater Washington and the Florence Letcher Toms Award from the Washington DC Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Finally, for three (3) consecutive years, Bright Beginnings has received the covenanted 4 star rating from CharityNavigator signaling its financial health and the level of transparency Bright Beginnings provides to its donors. Only 25% of all non-profits receive the 4-star designation three years in a row. Additionally, during the pandemic of 2020, Marla was able to marshal the resources to pay off Bright Beginnings’ construction loan, three years in advance of its maturation date. Marla’s shrewd financial management has better positioned Bright Beginnings to weather the uncertain economic future ahead in 2021.
Marla is a proud Ward 7 resident where she lives in the PennBranch community with her husband. She has one son who recently graduated from Morehouse College with a degree in Cinema, Television and Emerging Media Sciences. Marla serves as the legislative chair for Ward 7 Education Council and corresponding secretary for the Dupont Park Civic Association and the former Education Chair for the PennBranch Citizens Civic Association. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. where she serves on the Social Action Committee. Marla has served as the Eastern Region Program Manager for the Delta Research and Education Foundation’s Delta Teacher Efficacy Campaign (DTEC) and on the 2017-2020 DCPS Strategic Advisory Committee. Currently, Marla serves on the Low Income Investment Fund’s (LIIF) New Market Tax Credit Advisory Board. Finally, Marla is a member of the 2020 Class of Leadership Greater Washington and she currently serves on Mayor Bowser’s inaugural Thrive by Five Coordinating Council.
Marla is married to the love of her life, Steven Dean, and they have one son who recently graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA.