Dr Kelisha B Graves

Chief Research, Education, and Programs Officer

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change

Dr. Kelisha B. Graves is an executive, thought leader, strategist, and scholar, committed to driving transformational journeys for individuals and organizations. She is the Chief Research, Education, and Programs Officer at The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, where she propels strategic advancement, operational efficiency, digital transformation, and global influence within the center's research, education, and programs unit. As a cross-functional executive, she leads as the connective tissue between teams and program areas.

Fueled by a passion for uncovering new insights and approaches, Dr. Graves’s leadership is defined by her ability to remain curious, navigate complexities, and provide innovative solutions. Her talents capitalize on the convergence of business strategy, education, and technology, driving innovations and big ideas at the cutting edge of these fields. Leveraging reaches between the non-profit, corporate, and education sectors, she actively collaborates across domains to promote sustainable growth, new opportunities, and impactful change

Underpinning her business and executive acumen, is an academic background culminating in a doctorate degree in education. As a scholar, author, and university professor, she remains active in academia. Her expertise crosses disciplinary realms, including educational leadership, black history and culture, philosophy, and educational technology. Her accomplishments include published works in the fields of education, African American history, and philosophy. Most notably, her book, Nannie Helen Burroughs: A Documentary Portrait of an Early Civil Rights Pioneer, 1900-1959 (University of Notre Dame Press, 2019), garnered recognition for its comprehensive exploration of a critical contributor to civil rights history. Her next book project considers the current tilt in US foreign policy towards Africa with an eye toward higher education and the question of sustainability.

Dr. Graves's multi-faceted experiences fuels what she calls her diverse "zones of genius," enabling a wide-angle lens on the present and the future. She has delivered keynotes and presentations to audiences around the world. Dr. Graves has appeared in major media outlets, including CNN, the Washington Post, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.