Renee Johnson-Thornton is a senior program associate and assistant director of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program. Prior to joining the Foundation in December 2020, Ms. Johnson-Thornton worked at Wesleyan University for over two decades. During her time at Wesleyan, she held several positions including associate director of the McNair program, associate coordinator of MMUF program, assistant to the dean of the college, dean for equity and inclusion, and dean for the classes of 2018 and 2022 in the Office of Academic Advancement.
The first member of her family to earn a college degree, Ms. Johnson-Thornton holds a BA from Binghamton University, where she was a double major in English and African & African American studies, an MA in liberal studies from Wesleyan University, and a PhD in education from the University of Rhode Island/Rhode Island College. The topic of her dissertation was Studying Science: Students Gaining Access to the Community of Practice of Environmental Studies.
Ms. Johnson-Thornton began her career with the State University of New York as an admissions counselor and later assumed the position of program coordinator for the United Technologies/Trinity College Engineering Initiative, an experience she attributes to her introduction to grant management and opportunities to utilize philanthropy to advance access and inclusion of underrepresented students in higher education. As an educator, scholar, administrator, and community ally, she advocates for diversity and inclusion through various educational and professional practices.