Katy Blackburn is April Employee of the Month


Kathryn “Katy” Blackburn hit the ground running in September 2021 when she joined George Mason University as a program assistant for Division of Education Leadership and Policy in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD).

Pres Washington poses with EOTM Katy Blackburn
President Gregory Washington with April Employee of the Month Katy Blackburn. Photo by Cristian Torres/Strategic Communications

In this role, she provides administrative assistance to faculty, helps the graduate program perform with efficiency, solves departmental roadblocks, and stays proactive in her communications. Colleagues say she’s a valued member of the division, and they are grateful to have her as a part of their team.

Blackburn, who is also a Mason alum with an MEd in curriculum and instruction, was commended for her willingness to learn new tasks and for taking the initiative to educate herself on functions of the division. For juggling multiple responsibilities with compassion and mindfulness of others, Blackburn has been recognized as the April Employee of the Month.

“Since Katy has been a member of our division team, I have found her to be intellectually curious, flexible, open-minded, solution-oriented, and up for a good challenge,” said Regina Biggs, associate professor and co-academic program coordinator of the Education Leadership Program. “She also demonstrates excellent interpersonal skills, is proactive in her communications, works well independently and as a team player, and has a precise eye for detail.” 

“Her outstanding work with faculty, staff, and students demonstrates her many talents and speaks to her unwavering commitment to the division and CEHD,” said Farnoosh Shahrokhi, associate professor and director of the Division of Education Leadership and Policy. “She has been tireless in working with potential students and guiding them through the application process.”

“Katy has completely transformed the operation of our ed policy programs in terms of student-facing services, helping both current and prospective students feel welcome and supported, and ensuring their Mason experience is the best it possibly can be,” said Anne Holton, a professor for education policy and senior fellow in EdPolicyForward. “She is truly an unsung hero and a perfect candidate for the Employee of the Month award.”

How you got to Mason:

I am a former FCPS fourth grade teacher and retired from teaching in 2019 to pursue opportunities within my family business. At the time my husband and brother and sister-in-law owned an Orangetheory Fitness Studio and a Dogtopia DayCare in Falls Church. I transitioned to working part-time in order to have the flexibility to accommodate the needs of my 16-year-old son, who has autism. Then when the [COVID] shutdown occurred in 2020, my husband and I decided to sell our businesses and I stayed home full-time. Once the world was back open, I knew I wanted to work again and contribute to something meaningful and purposeful. I love the education field, but knew that teaching was just not possible. I looked into the next best thing…George Mason University!

Best day on the job:

The best day on the job was probably when our division held their 20th Annual EDLE Leader Launch Conference last fall. My team and I worked for months getting this event organized and planned for the 110+ people in attendance. The praise we received from students and staff on how informative, helpful, and professional it turned out was so rewarding and meaningful.

What do you like best about working at Mason:

The best thing about working at Mason is the challenge it provides me and the sense of purpose I feel within my department. Working with future leaders is so worthwhile and important, and I feel a part of something bigger that impacts the communities of our students. I also enjoy the people I work with and the friendships I’ve made within the college.

What do you like to do when you’re not working:

When I am not working, I enjoy exercising and being active. I grew up the youngest of three and would play sports with my brothers. My love for sports grew into a love for basketball, which I played throughout my school career on various teams. Once I got to college, I branched out into running and organized fitness. I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in 2005 and continue to run today…mostly at Orangetheory. I love lifting weights and pushing myself, and I am always down for an [Orangetheory Fitness] workout!