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Dr. Sheila Smith McKoy


 With over thirty years of experience in Higher Education and leadership, Dr. Sheila Smith McKoy brings a wealth of experience in leading change and transformation in higher education. She has served in the highest levels of academic leadership including at the provost’s level. She has also contributed as a transformational leader at Research I, comprehensive universities and at smaller universities, including an Historically Black College. Her leadership experience and engagement began early in her career when she served as an academic lead at Vanderbilt University where she earned tenure as only the second Black woman to be tenured in her college in 2001. In 1994, Smith McKoy was the first Africa American to earn a PhD in English from Duke University. Recognized thought leader on race, social justice, the literature of protest and American, African American and African Diasporan cultures. 

Smith McKoy is published widely in the areas of race and difference, mentorship, literature and culture, and mentorship. Her books include the seminal text in understanding white race riots, When Whites Riot: Writing Race and Violence in American and South African Cultures, which has been continuously in publication since 2001. She is co-editor of Recovering the African Feminine Divine in Literature, the Arts, and Performing Arts: Yemonja Awakening (2020). She is the editor of The Elizabeth Keckley Reader: Writing Self, Writing Nation (2016) and The Elizabeth Keckley Reader: Artistry, Culture and Commerce (2017). In addition to her scholarly work, Smith McKoy is an award-winning poet, fiction writer, and filmmaker. She is the recipient of the 2020 Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial Prize in poetry. She is Co-author of an award-winning anthology, One Window’s Light: A Haiku Collection., an anthology written by five Black poets. She values the art of storytelling in the process of institutional and social change. She has written, produced, and directed three films including Maama Watali and Luwero: A Conversation about War, Peace and Gender (2017). Dr. Smith McKoy’s latest publications include Teaching Literature and Writing in Prisons (2023), The Bones Beneath (2024), a poetry collection ,and "DNA as Cultural Memory: Posthumanism in Octavia Butler’s Fledgling and Nnedi Okorafor’s The Book of Phoenix" in The Specter and the Speculative: Afterlives and Archives in the African Diaspora (2024). Her ongoing dedication to research and creative output to engage in vital conversations about equality and inclusion. 

Dr. Smith McKoy is a skilled facilitator and strategic planning expert. As a trained mediator, Smith McKoy specializes in restorative justice practices. She brings this lens to her ombuds work with colleges and universities. The insights she has gained from serving as a faculty member and higher education leader have enabled her to build consensus while addressing grievances. She also regularly contributes to peace-making efforts in her community by serving as a voluntary mediator in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Her leadership skillset has been honed by her work in higher education and with non-profits in the U.S, and abroad, and in consultation with clients in healthcare, law, social justice, and equity management. Smith McKoy’s international engagement work includes creating and sustaining partnerships between higher education institutions in the United States and international universities and non-governmental organizations. 

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