Irma McClaurin

Dr. Irma McClaurinDr. Irma McClaurin

Dr. Irma McClaurin is is a visionary, academic entrepreneur, and founder of the Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive at the University of Massachusetts Amherst ( She is an activist anthropologist who presented her first paper at CSA in 1995 and holds a life/long membership. She has served on CSA’s Executive Committee and was Program Chair for the 2003 CSA conference held in Belize. Her anthropological focus is on the social construction of inequality and intersectionality and she had conducted research in Belize, Suriname and the United States.

Past leadership roles include president of Shaw University, Chief Diversity Officer at Teach For America, Senior Faculty at the United States Government’s Federal Executive Institute, Deputy Provost at Fisk University, and is the founder of the Africana Women’s Studies Program at Bennett College for Women and Associate Vice President and the founding Executive Director of the University of Minnesota’s first Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center. McClaurin was tenured in anthropology at both the University of Florida and University of Minnesota. While serving as a Program Officer for Education and Scholarship at the Ford Foundation, she managed a $10.8M portfolio with 59 grantees and awarded CSA an organizational grant to support the development of women’s leadership in the organization.

Now retired, Dr. McClaurin is the sole proprietor of Irma McClaurin Solutions, a consulting company. Services include Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Strategies, Community Engagement, Executive Coaching for Leadership and Writing, and Organizational Change. She works with individuals, organizations, nonprofits, and corporations. Recent contracts include senior DEI consultant for the Rochester Museum and Science Center on the largest 8000 sf exhibit, “The Changemakers: Rochester Women Who Changed the World” (


An award-winning writer, McClaurin is the Editor of Black Feminist Anthropology: Theory, Politics, Praxis and Poetics, selected as an “Outstanding Academic Title” by Choice Magazine in 2001 and named “Best in the Nation Columnist” by the Black Press of America in 2015 for her column “A Black Mother Weeps for America: STOP KILLING OUR BLACK SONS, originally publishrd in Insight News, a Black Minneapolis paper where serves as Culture and Education Editor and has published over 90+ columns.

In 2016, she founded the “Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive” (BFA) in collaboration with the Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst. The interdisciplinary BFA is designed to build an “archival home” for Black women who are activists, artists, academics, and just everyday folk.  This recent article she wrotes describes her goal to render  Black women “Visible and Heard.”

Awards and Grants:

2021:  Recipient of the American Anthropology  Association’s Engaged Anthropology Award :
Recipient of the 2021 Wenner Gren’s Global Initiative Grant to support her work on the Black Feminist Archive:

2020: Historical Archive Grant to Support Development of the Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive, Wenner Gren Foundation

2018: Recognized as “A Woman Philanthropist to Watch” for founding the “Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

2017: First Award for “Vision & Commitment,” presented by the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) in celebration of their 40th Anniversary for her support of their organizational transformation with grants from the Ford Foundation.

2016: Honored as a Distinguished Alumna, University of Massachusetts Amherst

McClaurin is currently retired and operates her own consulting,  coaching and public speaking business, Irma McClaurin Solutions; she also is a free-lance writer and also the Culture and Education Editor for Insight News.

She is also compiling some of her columns into a forthcoming book: JUSTSPEAK: Reflections on Race, Culture and Politics in America, and preparing the research data she collected in the late 1990s on women in Suriname as an ethnography, similar to her book on Women of  Belize: Gender and Change in Central America (Rutgers), now 25 years old and still in print. When first published in 1996, it became the second book ever published on women and gender in Belize.


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