Black woman scholar-activist-academic advocate-womanist

I see myself in these roles.  As a scholar, full professor, vice president, and founder of the Faculty Women of Color in the Academy National Conference, I am committed to learning and teaching others about issues of humanity and identity, often related to race, class, and gender.   I have an unwavering commitment to excellence and empowering others through education to actualize their potential. I feel a responsibility to be an activist and advocate for justice, opportunity, equity, diversity, and inclusion. As a womanist, I am deeply committed to advancing gender equality, particularly for women of color. I regularly blog at on issues impacting humanity, often related to race, class, gender, oppression, White supremacy, as well as religion and spirituality.  I also hosted Menah’s Matinee: Music and Musings, a creative video blog, available on Menah Pratt-Clarke (YouTube)

I have been honored to be invited to conduct workshops for senior administrators, faculty, staff, and students; deliver keynote addresses; provide consultations to institutions on diversity and inclusion; and offer professional career consultations.

Professional Bio:

Menah Pratt 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. She is also on the editorial board for Insight Into Diversity. In addition, she is the founder of the Faculty Women of Color in the Academy National Conference, now in its 11th year, and the Black College Institute at Virginia Tech.

Dr. Pratt 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’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. She regularly blogs at with a video podcast on YouTube called Menah’s Matinee: Music and Musings.

Dr. Pratt 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 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.

Follow her on Facebook (, Twitter (@menahpc), and Instagram ( 

Check out a TedX Talk at Virginia Tech: