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Dr. Kelisha B. Graves


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 an academic background culminating in a doctorate degree in education. As a scholar, author, and university professor, she remains active in academia. Her expertise crosses disciplinary realms, including educational leadership, black history and culture, philosophy, 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 considers the current tilt in US foreign policy towards Africa with an eye toward higher education and the question of sustainability. 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 fuels what she calls her diverse "zones of genius," enabling 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 organizations and individuals alike, 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 | Digital transformation and innovation | Black history & culture | Higher education futures | Historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) and sustainability | HBCU-Africa relations | US-Africa relations in education | Educational technology

Dr. Graves is also an adjunct professor with teaching appointments

at two universities. Her teaching specializations are:

Philosophical and religious thought | African American intellectual history | Educational leadership | History and philosophy of education | School policy and law | Research methods | Culturally responsive teaching and learning | Dissertation and thesis development

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Catalyzing digital transformation and business strategy for cultural heritage institutions, non-profits, and colleges and universities.

Strategy Solutions and Services


Digital Transformation

Leveraging cutting-edge technologies to digitize artifacts, develop immersive experiences, and expand global reach is the key to capturing more value for sustainable growth and impact. As a thought partner, Dr. Graves helps organization strategize around how to engage their audiences and amplify their footprint through digital platforms.

Tech Advocacy, Brand Ambassadorship, and Referral Service

In the digital age, the triumvirate of brand ambassadorship, tech advocacy, and referral services emerges as a potent combination, empowering brands to forge meaningful connections, leverage transformative technologies, and unlock the vast potential of word-of-mouth marketing.  Bridging the gap between great technology solutions and curious organizations, Dr. Graves partners with brands to translate technology solutions into niche educational and cultural heritage markets. Building upon contextual awareness and leadership experience in these sectors, Dr. Graves connects the dots, enabling key decision-makers to understand how to amplify their impact, engage audiences, and propel their missions forward with technological innovation. 

High-Impact Teaching and Learning/EdTech Strategy and Implementation:

Need to revive a defunct course or need to re-fresh an existing one? Curious about how to capture the most attention-value from your learners? Transformational education demands that educators design and implement high-impact teaching and edtech strategies that lead to deeply valuable learning journeys. Whether its a hybrid, online, or face-to-face course, Dr. Graves guides on how to optimize learning management systems, personalized learning platforms, and collaborative edtech tools to enhance teaching and learning outcomes. With a focus on innovation and student engagement, she helps educators understand how to capture the most joy from learners and how to harness the full potential of technology in course design.

Tech Product Reviews

In an era of abundant choices and discerning consumers, the significance of product reviews cannot be overstated, as they serve as guiding beacons, helping individuals and organizations make informed decisions and navigate the vast landscape of available options. Dr. Graves reviews tech products designed for the education and cultural heritage sectors. With a keen eye for detail and thoughtful analysis, she provides insightful evaluations that help guide consumers towards exceptional products. Her genuine enthusiasm and honest assessments make her a trusted source for reliable recommendations and informed perspectives. 

Digital Strategy for Cultural Heritage Preservation and Amplification:

Amplifying and disseminating heritage is of paramount importance as it ensures that the rich tapestry of our cultural legacies is celebrated, shared, and cherished by present and future generations. By actively promoting and disseminating cultural heritage, we foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of diverse traditions, histories, and identities. Through innovative technologies, engaging storytelling, and inclusive outreach, organizations can unlock the power of their collections to inspire, educate, and unite communities. Dr. Graves’s expertise shines at the convergence of cultural heritage, technology, and business strategy. She bridges tactical insight with on-the-ground experience, adding contextual validity for how technology can support business strategy. Motivated by a strong belief in the power of cultural heritage preservation for a vibrant and interconnected world, Dr. Graves helps organizations strategize around how to create new opportunities that position their assets and collections to achieve scale and reach the world. 

Editorial and Film Reviews

Storytelling holds the transformative power to captivate hearts, ignite imagination, and leave a lasting impact, transcending barriers and connecting individuals on a profound level.  As a discerning scholar in several disciplinary fields, Dr. Graves lends her expertise to editorial and film reviews in the historical and social issues genres. She has contributed reviews to film and television projects that delve into the African American experience, including acclaimed works such as WGN America's slavery-themed series Underground, Nancy Buirski's historical documentary The Rape of Recy Taylor, and the Oscar-nominated short film My Nephew Emmett. Furthermore, her editorial reviews extend to scholarly works, including books such as Critical Black Pedagogy, and William Still: The Underground Railroad and the Angel at Philadelphia.

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