Writer, scholar, activist, and advocate
I see myself in these roles. As a scholar and full professor and senior administrator, I am committed to learning and teaching others about issues of humanity and identity, often related to race, class, and gender. I have been honored to be invited to conduct workshops for senior administrators, faculty, staff, and students; deliver keynote addresses; and provide consultations to institutions on diversity and inclusion across the world. I also provide personal and professional career consultations. I have a commitment to empowering others through education and I feel a responsibility to be an activist and advocate for justice, opportunity, equity, diversity, and inclusion. I regularly blog at www.menahprattclarke.com on issues impacting humanity, often related to race, class, gender, oppression, White supremacy, as well as religion and spirituality. I also host Menah’s Matinee: Music and Musings, a monthly creative video blog, available on Menah Pratt-Clarke (YouTube) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnNY3xBTUn-8F4idVQRCKtA/videos
Menah Pratt-Clarke is the Vice President for Strategic Affairs and Diversity, and Professor of Education (full professor with tenure) at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. With over thirty years of administrative, academic, legal, fundraising, advancement, and community engagement experience, Dr. Pratt-Clarke envisions, leads, and manages large-scale transformational strategic initiatives, including diversity and inclusion efforts, at public and private higher education institutions. At Virginia Tech, she oversees the Office for Inclusion and Diversity, the Office for Strategic Affairs, and the Council on Virginia Tech History. She was selected as the 2021 Inclusive Excellence Individual Leadership Award recipient by the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education.
Dr. Pratt-Clarke received a bachelor’s degree in English with high distinction (minors in Philosophy and African-American Studies) and a master’s degree in Literary Studies from the University of Iowa. She earned a law degree, as well as a master’s and doctorate in Sociology, from Vanderbilt University. Dr. Pratt-Clarke’s teaching and research interests include issues of race, class, and gender in education, with a focus on the transdisciplinary analysis of diversity issues in higher education. She has taught at Fisk University (English and African-American Literature); American Baptist College (English and Speech at the men’s and women’s prisons); Vanderbilt University (Sociology and College of Law); and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (African-American Studies and College of Law).
In addition to publishing several articles and book chapters, her first book was Critical Race, Feminism, and Education: A Social Justice Model. In 2017, Journeys of Social Justice: Women of Color Presidents in the Academy and A Promising Reality: Reflections on Race, Gender, and Culture in Cuba were published. A Black Woman’s Journey from Cotton Picking to College Professor: Lessons about Race, Gender, and Class in America was awarded the 2018 American Education Studies Association Critics’ Choice Book Award for outstanding scholarship.
Dr. Pratt-Clarke previously served for almost ten years as Associate Chancellor for Strategic Affairs, Associate Provost for Diversity, and Title IX Officer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She was also Associate Professor (with tenure) in the College of Education. Before joining Illinois, she worked at Vanderbilt University for eight years. As the first University Compliance Officer (including oversight of the Vanderbilt University and Medical Center) and Assistant Secretary of the University, she oversaw governance and compliance matters, including the Board of Trust Office and associated committees. In addition, she served as University Counsel with responsibility for real estate and construction legal matters and negotiated over $500M of construction contracts. Dr. Pratt-Clarke is licensed to practice law in Illinois and Tennessee. Her expertise includes real estate, commercial lending, public finance, construction, civil rights, affirmative action, and equal employment opportunity law.
With a renaissance background, she is an arts advocate (owned a frame shop and art gallery in Nashville); a classically trained pianist and violinist; and a former professional tennis circuit athlete. She is a founding member of the Pratt Music Foundation, which has raised $700,000, and provided almost 400 classical music scholarships (30 annually) for free lessons since its founding in 1998.
She is committed to excellence and helping to actualize the potential of individuals and institutions to advance and serve humanity.
I also host regular monthly podcasts at Virginia Tech on issues of diversity and inclusion as part of two series: “Making the Chair Fit” and “#VTUnfinished” (InclusiveVT Youtube Channel): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCRUhX- BBeN_fo1lLQUQcaQ/videos . I was recently a panelist on an Insight into Diversity national webinar on White Women as allies that has over 15,000 views. https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=594801004757771&ref=watch_permalink
I am currently working on a new book of creative nonfiction, based on my own life journey: From Black Girlhood to Black Womanhood: A Wild Womanist Adventure. This book is about the relationship between Blackwildgirl, my childhood self, and Blackwildwoman, my adult self. As told through 45 years of journals, poems, and letters in a genre-blending creative narrative nonfiction memoir, this book is about the journey of a Black woman, Blackwildwoman, to find and reclaim Blackwildgirl, symbolizing her original Divine Feminine power. Separated from Blackwildgirl during a girlhood initiation ritual, Blackwildwoman undertakes a difficult and treacherous underground journey, eventually reuniting with her Divine Feminine childhood self and reclaiming her original power as a woman. Through six initiation stages with acts and scenes, Blackwildwoman learns life lessons and wild woman wisdom.
This book is for anyone who wants to understand the experiences of girls as they seek to become wild women—women who are fierce and fearless; women who are warriors for themselves and others; women who are committed to cultivating and excavating their spiritual gardens and tilling their spiritual souls to blossom and bloom; and women who want to move from invisible underground lives to aboveground lives of impact and influence by reclaiming their original power and role as women in the world. Agent and publisher inquiries are welcome!