Dr. Shirley Williams-Kirksey is an educational and organizational leadership consultant, former academic and school dean at Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University, a Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society member, recipient of a Fulbright Research Fellow Award, China, member of several Advisory Boards, including PHYLON, the Journal of Race and Culture, certified in conflict mediation, and recipient of several service related awards and honors, and mother of four.
Taught by her mother at an early age to explore the world through reading, she became an avid reader and researcher whose interest in African-American women began while she was a graduate student at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. Here, she was able to examine, investigate and scrutinize the lives of African-American women in their various roles; to give presentations on them and to better understand and appreciate how their lives evolved. She compared their lives with the lives of women from other races and cultures, hence developing an interest in gender issues, interracial and intercultural communication, and mentoring, while completing a Ph.D. at Ohio University in Organizational Communication, and a related area in higher education administration. Dr. Williams-Kirksey has taught at three major universities and presented papers at several national conferences.
The daughter of Mrs. Mary Louise Stafford, Dr. Williams-Kirksey, compiler and editor of her mother’s poems, uncovered her collection of poems and writing written in English classes at Cameron University, Lawton, Oklahoma. Humbled and impressed by her mother’s writings, Dr. Williams-Kirksey decided to assemble them in this book for family, friends and others. This treasure trove of writings by Mary Louise Stafford is being shared so that others may benefit and be inspired by them, as was the daughter, Dr. Williams-Kirksey.
Lastly, Mary Louise Stafford died on October 20, 2014. She will always be lovingly remembered as a wife, grandmother and great-grandmother who was witty, caring, supportive, versatile, and vibrant with unlimited energy and creativity.