Shanee McCoy, a champion for students with a long record of increasing college access and success, will serve as the next director of UW–Madison’s Precollege Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence (PEOPLE). She began her position on Feb. 6.

An alumna of UW–Madison and the PEOPLE program who went on to work at PEOPLE, McCoy is well-positioned to lead the program, which helps low-income and first-generation Wisconsin youth achieve their academic goals. As the director, she will oversee all aspects of implementation for college readiness and success initiatives offered by the program and work with the program’s associate directors overseeing PEOPLE offices and services in Madison and Milwaukee.

“Being selected to serve as director means so much to me,” said McCoy. “As an alum, I am deeply connected to the mission and purpose of PEOPLE and am excited to utilize my skillset and experience to contribute to the legacy of this prestigious program.”

For more than 20 years, PEOPLE has grown and adapted to become a premier college readiness program for Wisconsin youth. The program began in 1999 with just 66 students in Milwaukee Public Schools. The program grew under the leadership of Walter Lane (1999-2005), Jacqueline DeWalt (2005-12), and Gail Ford (2019-23) and now serves more than 1,300 students each year, representing more than 138 Wisconsin cities and 31 counties. McCoy will contribute to this legacy by providing strategic leadership and vision to all staff, students, and stakeholders who are part of the PEOPLE family.

McCoy is a champion for students who brings 17 years of professional experience in college access and success to the director role. She has served as an educational access and opportunity leader, working directly with youth and local communities. While several of these roles include leadership within the PEOPLE organization, McCoy’s first professional position in the program was as site coordinator for PEOPLE Prep in 2005. 

Most recently, McCoy served as the inaugural associate director for the PEOPLE precollege program office in Milwaukee. McCoy earned her bachelor’s degree in African American studies at UW–Madison and her master’s degree in higher education leadership and administration from Capella University.

McCoy will work closely with Dr. Raul Leon, assistant vice provost for student engagement and scholarship programs (SESP), who oversees PEOPLE as part of the SESP portfolio within the Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement.

“This is an exciting moment of transition for our PEOPLE family,” said Leon. “McCoy’s trajectory through the program and leadership ranks truly speaks to the value of the program in preparing leaders for the state of Wisconsin.”