Prior to her appointment in December 2014 as the DVC: Teaching & Learning at Nelson Mandela University , Prof Zinn was Executive Dean of the Faculty of Education at NMM and prior to that, the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Education at Fort Hare University. At both Fort Hare and NMU, as well as in previous work for the Tertiary Education Linkages Project, she has been deeply involved in curriculum review, development and curriculum renewal, as well as participatory initiatives to build a transformative institutional culture in higher education environments.
Her most recent publications and research explore the theory and praxis of a humanising pedagogy, and social justice and diversity issues in education. In terms of academic qualifications, her undergraduate and teaching degrees were obtained at UCT, and after teaching in Port Elizabeth high schools (including St Thomas and Chapman) for 12 years, she received scholarships to do an MEd (Language and Literacy) and then a Doctoral degree in the area of Teaching, Curriculum and Learning Environments (TCLE) at Harvard University Graduate School of Education (HUGSE). During her time at Harvard, she was a board member and co-chairperson of the Harvard Educational Review, and taught in several programmes in different US universities while there.
Throughout her life, she has been involved in community activism, non-racial civic organisations and sports organisations, teacher organisations (TLSA & ECTU) and community cultural, educational fellowship & organisations.