Irma McClaurin

Dr. Irma McClauren at a table with photo prints in front of her


Dr. Irma McClaurin, Black Feminist Speaker, is a woman of many talents who believes profoundly that you must “change minds, change hearts, change behavior to achieve transformation.” She is an activist biocultural anthropologist who studies the social construction of inequality by examining the culture of gender, global processes of racialization, cultural representations, and the impact of culture on biology and biology on culture using an intersectional lens. McClaurin holds the PhD and MA in Anthropology and the Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) in English, both from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

She is the founder and senior consultant of Irma McClaurin Solution (IMS), formerly McClaurin Solutions, a consulting business that specializes in leadership and organizational development; diversity and change strategies; authentic community engagement practices; and research and evaluations. She specializes in helping others find immediate and sustainable solutions to emerging and urgent issues. McClaurin offers support as a leadership consultant and guru, an executive and life coach, diversity strategist, writer/editor, workshop facilitator and trainer, and researcher.

Her approaches are informed by past experiences as a president of Shaw University and Chief Diversity Officer at Teach For America. Dubbed an “academic entrepreneur,” McClaurin has held numerous executive positions that include Deputy Provost at Fisk University; Associate Vice President and Founding Executive Director of the first Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center at the University of Minnesota; tenured Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Florida and the University of Minnesota; Mott Distinguished Chair in Women’s Studies and Founding Executive Director of the Africana Women’s Studies Program at Bennett College for Women; and Program Officer in Education and Scholarship at the Ford Foundation where she managed a $10.8M portfolio, secured four $1M endowments, and worked with 59 grantees.

In the policy arena, McClaurin is a former Senior Faculty at the Federal Executive Institute (FEI), founded by Executive Order, where she taught leadership education to GS 15 and members of the Senior Executive Services (SES) from federal agencies such as the CIA, Veterans Affairs, the Navy, NASA, DOE, and many others. She also was Coordinator of four USAID custom leadership programs. She is an alumna of both the Leadership for a Democratic Society (LDS) program at FEI and the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) Fellowship Program, in “I believe you must change hearts, change minds, and change behavior to achieve transformation.” which she served as a Diplomacy Fellow in the Policy Bureau at USAID. She has successfully passed the United States government’s security background check.

McClaurin knows first-hand what it means to lead under fire. As President, only six months on the job, she led Shaw University through disaster recovery after tornado damages. At Fisk University, she stepped in to take charge as Deputy Provost after the abrupt departure of both the provost and president. This has given her hands-on experience in leading organizational and culture change, crisis management, institutional recovery and stabilization, diversity audits and conflicts, and leadership and faculty development. She uses this first-hand knowledge to support her clients in achieving their goals.

Vision, passion, clear values, and a deep commitment to social justice have guided Dr. McClaurin through a successful journey as a senior executive, and now as a consultant she gives back by leveraging what she’s learned in her work with clients. For example, she uses her writing skills and gender expertise to write expert testimonies for immigration asylum seekers. McClaurin is committed to helping others transform the world and using her unique leadership skill set to be of service to achieve sustainable and transformational results.

She is also a public speaker and TV-Radio commentator, and conducts workshops on a variety of topics related to social justice, black feminism/feminism, organizational change and transformation, leadership and resilience, diversity, community engagement, ethnographic research and methods, public writing, cultural/bio-cultural anthropology, poetry, and literature. She has been recognized and received the following honors: a special award in 2017 for “Vision and Commitment” from the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) and the 2016 “Distinguished Alumni Award” from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

A prolific and award-winning writer and experienced editor, McClaurin has penned 85+ columns as a free-lance writer and Culture and Education Editor for Insight News of Minneapolis. In 2015, she was selected as “Best Columnist in the Nation” by the Black Press of America and the first-place recipient of the Emory O. Jackson National Column Writing Award given by the National Newspaper Publishers Association. This made her Insight News’ first and only award-winning columnist. In the academic arena, McClaurin’s edited book, Black Feminist Anthropology: Theory, Politics, Praxis and Poetics, published in 2001, was selected as an “Outstanding Academic Title” by Choice Magazine in 2002. An accomplished poet, McClaurin’s poetry has appeared in over 16 magazines and anthologies and are translated into Spanish and Swedish. In 1976, she was awarded the Gwendolyn Brooks Award in poetry by Black World magazine, then published by Ebony Magazine.

Dr. McClaurin recently founded the “Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive” in 2016; it is a collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s W.E.B. Du Bois Library Department of Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) and the W.E.B. Du Bois Center. She now presents nationally on the Archive and has appeared on ABC7 “Here and Now” to talk about this legacy project. In 2019, the @CiteBlackWomen launched its inaugural podcast with an interview with McClaurin on the Black Feminist Archive. And Ms. Magazine published an interview about the Archive in 2018.

On her vision, Dr. McClaurin says: This Archive will be a game changer by preserving and showcasing the intellectual and activist contributions of Black Feminists for all eternity.