Education Partnership Coordinator Joanne R. Milner is calling it a day after a long career in public service
Come Thursday morning, Joanne Milner will go to work at the Mayor’s Office for the last time. She is retiring from the Salt Lake City School District after 22 years, and also, consequentially, leaving her position at the Office of the Mayor.
She served under several mayors as Education Partnership Coordinator where she worked on improving the capitals education, from monitoring public policies that impact education to cultivating a College Career and Civic-Ready Environment in Salt Lake City, and much more. She was the first Education Partnership Coordinator, a position created during Ralph Becker’s administration.
During her 30 years in education, she served eight with the University of Utah before moving on to the Salt Lake City School District.
“Our greatest passion is our children,” she says. It’s the reason she has made a career out of serving Salt Lake City’s education system. “It’s what fuels me, the fire, the gusto.”
Amongst her other accomplishments are several awards: the 2012 Cesar Chavez Peace and Justice Award, presented by the Utah Coalition of La Raza, the 2005 Rosa Parks Award, presented by the Salt Lake Chapter of the NAACP, and many more.
Outside of her service in education she is a former member of the Salt Lake City Council, representing the West-side area of Salt Lake City from 1996-2000; she also served three-terms in the Utah State House of Representatives. But there is more to her than her impressive résumé could ever show.
Get to know Joanne and you’ll find a proud person of color at the center of woman who has dedicated her life to public service. Her favorite phrase comes from her Italian heritage: Ancoro imparo, which means still I am learning. She has been fighting for educational equality for people of color for decades, fighting to make sure Salt Lake City’s many diverse community feel welcome, not disenfranchised. She has seen the city change, make subtle progress, but like every one else, she knows there is still a long way to go.
“Disenfranchised doesn’t mean not talented, it means the system has failed.” She says. “If a person is given an opportunity, they flourish.”
And equal opportunity for all residents is the vision she wishes for this city, the vision she passes on “like a baton,” she says, emphasizing the allegory of a baton race. A hand-off she is comfortable making knowing Mayor Biskupski is carving out a legacy for diversity and equal rights in her first year. She will continue supporting all this and more, but from behind the scenes.
After retiring, her first and foremost responsibility will be serving as primary caregiver for her beloved mother, Giovanna Fortunata Furano Milner, affectionately known by many in the community as Nonna Givovanna or “Grandma.”
“I may not get there with you, but we’ll get there.” She says, quoting Martin Luther King Jr. Perhaps that wasn’t the exact quote, but there is still time to learn. Ancoro imparo, after all.