Mark Molli Retires after Nearly 30 Years of Service to the Center

On March 31, Associate Director Mark Molli retired from the Center after nearly 30 years. Prior to coming to the Center, Mark served as chief of staff for U.S. Congressman Augustus F. Hawkins, the first African American elected to Congress west of the Rocky Mountains and a formidable civil rights and champion for children and the less fortunate members of society. During his time on Capitol Hill, he met Executive Director Charles N. Quigley, who came to Washington to advocate for law-related education funding and for the National Bicentennial Competition, the precursor of the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution program. Mark recalls seeing the first We the People competition in a hearing room on Capitol Hill and became impressed with the work of the Center.

Mark Molli at Sanford Middle School
Center for Civic Education Associate Director Mark Molli (center) with Jennifer Coursin's class at Sanford Middle School in Florida on January 30, 2019

When Congressman Hawkins announced his retirement in 1990, Mark went to work for the Center for Civic Education handling government relations and opened their first Washington, D.C., office. “I felt fortunate to go from working for a legendary figure in Congress to working for Chuck Quigley, a legendary figure in the field of civic education,” said Mark. “The Center staff and their network of national and international coordinators, teachers, and scholars are wonderful, decent, and highly professional people that made my time with the Center a remarkable place to work.”


Mark added, “I was fortunate to be part of a golden era in civic education, whereby federal funding for national and international civic education through the Center’s efforts was sustained for over two decades, reaching an apex of $26.5 million a year. During that era, the We the People program became an authorized program in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), a federal law that directed fair and equitable civic education resources into every state and served the diversity of the country.”

Mark was closely involved in several of the Center's national initiatives, including providing public information for the National Standards for Civics and Government, co-managing four groundbreaking Congressional Conferences on Civic Education, assisting in the successful implementation of the American Civic Education Teacher Awards, and working with John Hale to co-direct the Campaign to Promote Civic Education.

Mark Molli with Margaret Branson in Moscow
Mark Molli and Associate Director Margaret Branson outside the Kremlin during the Civitas International Programs conference in Moscow, Russia.

In addition to working on the Center’s domestic civic education programs, Mark was involved in their international efforts as well. He was among the first group of education professionals who went to Bosnia-Herzegovina shortly after the war to help implement an education for democracy program in the schools and made several return trips to that country. He said, “training teachers in Bosnia was the highlight of my professional career. This wasn’t a political science simulation; it was the real thing—helping a country devastated by war to rebuild their society.” He has made several presentations on civic education at international forums, including conferences in Cairo, Egypt, and Marrakesh, Morocco.

Mark further reflected on this Center experience, “Working for Congressman Hawkins and Charles Quigley was abundant proof that people can use their talents to change the status quo in society for the common good of all. Both of these individuals helped me forge the belief that with determination and persistence, nothing is impossible. Chuck brought civic education out of obscurity and affirmed its importance nationally, even internationally. Like Gus Hawkins, he made a profound difference in the lives of others. That is a very proud legacy for anyone to have.”

Mark plans to stay active by volunteering in political campaigns, traveling, and gardening. He resides in Alexandria, Virginia, with Janey, his wife of 40 years. His son Matthew and daughter Jacqueline live nearby. Mark said, “no one ever truly retires from the Center for Civic Education. The goal is too noble and critical to our success as a democracy. I will always be an advocate for the Center and its enriching academic programs.”


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