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Dr. Kelisha B. Graves is an executive, strategist, author, and educator committed to driving strategic transformation for individuals and organizations. She is the Chief Research, Education, and Programs Officer at The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, where she propels strategic advancement, operational efficiency, digital transformation, and global influence within the center's research, education, and programs unit. As a cross-functional executive, she leads as the connective tissue between teams and program areas.


Fueled by a passion for uncovering new insights and approaches, Dr. Graves’s leadership is defined by her ability to remain curious, navigate complexities, and provide innovative solutions. Her talents capitalize on the convergence of business strategy, education, and technology, driving innovations and big ideas at the cutting edge of these fields. Leveraging reaches between the non-profit, corporate, and education sectors, she actively collaborates across domains to promote sustainable growth, new opportunities, and impactful change. With a deep understanding of strategy, technology trends, and educational best practices, she builds bridges across domains to mobilize connection and transformation.


Underpinning her business and executive acumen, is a solid foundation in academia. Dr. Graves holds a doctorate in education with a concentration in higher education. She maintains an appointment at Virginia State University in the College of Education as Assistant Professor of Social Justice. She also served as adjunct Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Fayetteville State University in the Department of Intelligence Studies, Geospatial Sciences, Political Science, and History. Her expertise crosses disciplinary realms, including educational leadership, black history and culture, philosophy, intellectual history, and educational technology. Her accomplishments include published works in the fields of education, African American history, and philosophy. Most notably, her book, Nannie Helen Burroughs: A Documentary Portrait of an Early Civil Rights Pioneer, 1900-1959 (University of Notre Dame Press, 2019), garnered recognition for its comprehensive exploration of a critical contributor to civil rights history. Her next book project explores the history of HBCU relations with Africa and consider how strategic engagement in the 21st century can promote mutual sustainability and higher education market growth. This project is positioned as a contribution to the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent, focusing on "recognition, justice, and development.”


Dr. Graves's multi-faceted experiences provides her with a wide angle lens on the present and the future. She has delivered keynotes and presentations to audiences around the world. Moreover, Dr. Graves has appeared in major media outlets, including CNN, the Washington Post, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

Dr. Graves continues to inspire people around the world, leaving an indelible mark in her chosen areas of impact and contributing to a future where the power of strategy, heart, and innovation merge harmoniously for the betterment of society.


nannie Helen

Nannie Helen Burroughs (1879–1961) is just one of the many African American intellectuals whose work has been long excluded from the literary canon. In her time, Burroughs was a celebrated African American (or, in her era, a "race woman") female activist, educator, and intellectual. This book represents a landmark contribution to the African American intellectual historical project by allowing readers to experience Burroughs in her own words. This anthology of her works written between 1900 and 1959 encapsulates Burroughs' work as a theologian, philosopher, activist, educator, intellectual, and evangelist, as well as the myriad of ways that her career resisted definition. Burroughs rubbed elbows with such African American historical icons as W. E. B. DuBois, Booker T. Washington, Anna Julia Cooper, Mary Church Terrell, and Mary McLeod Bethune, and these interactions represent much of the existing, easily available literature on Burroughs' life. This book aims to spark a conversation surrounding Burroughs' life and work by making available her own tracts on God, sin, the intersections of church and society, black womanhood, education, and social justice. Moreover, the volume is an important piece of the growing movement toward excavating African American intellectual and philosophical thought and reformulating the literary canon to bring a diverse array of voices to the table. 





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Dr. Graves talks Nannie Helen Burroughs on New Books Network

You Can Measure Anything: The Podcast | Diversity, equity, and belonging in the workplace with Dr. Nicole Alioto and special guest: Dr. Graves




request drgraves

To request Dr. Graves, please complete the appropriate request form.

Frequently requested speaking topics:

Transformational leadership | Black history & culture | Higher education futures | Historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) and sustainability | HBCU-Africa relations | Education and international development | Digital transformation | Educational technology

As a scholar her research and teaching interests include:

Educational leadership | Social justice and transformational praxis in education | Education and international development | History and philosophy of education | School policy and law | Philosophical and religious thought | African American intellectual history | Research methods | Innovation in teaching and learning | Digital transformation (including generative AI, virtual reality, augmented reality for education and cultural heritage preservation) | Dissertation and thesis development

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Dr. Graves is the Managing Partner of Creating Pathways Group, a consulting firm specializing in educational consulting, business strategy, and social impact initiatives. Learn more.

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