Dr. Joyce Blackwell, Built2Last Executive Director, is owner of the Institute for Educational Research, Development and Training LLC, an agency that works with non-profit, government and private sector partners to conduct research, develop and guide strategy, and build capacity to promote evidence-based policies, programs and practices for women and girls of color. Since September 2018, she has served as consultant/program manager of the Durham Compact, which was established by the City of Durham’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) to secure strategic partners for Built2Last-related initiatives.
Blackwell is regarded as an historian, pacifist feminist and scholar who has written extensively about African-American women’s peace activism in domestic and global movements. Over the years, she has been focused on building feminist theory in relation to Black women, gender, race, militarism, war and peace. Her pioneer study, No Peace without Freedom: Race and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, 1915-1975, is the first and only comprehensive study written to date on African American female peace activists. She has widely published articles on African American peace activism in various scholarly journals and books. In her various studies, Blackwell demonstrates the centrality of African-American women as agents of change in same-gender and mixed-gender national and transnational peace movements. Her body of work contributes much to our understanding of the roles that overt forms of oppression, racism, and gender-biases as well as covert systemic violence play in sustaining militarism and war. Blackwell has also written books about unknown Black women. For example, she published Volume 1 of a two-volume work on the history of White Rock Baptist Church, entitled, Upon This Rock: White Rock Baptist Church’s Dynamic People and Their Influence in the Durham, North Carolina, Community, 1866-2016, which focuses on not only on the history of Durham’s first Black church but also its founder, a female ex-slave.
Blackwell has presented on her research interests at both national and international conferences, in which she often served as keynote speaker. She has also led diversity, equity, inclusion and leadership development workshops for colleges and companies across the United States.
Blackwell earned her B.A. and M.A. degrees in History from North Carolina Central University (Durham, NC) and her Ph.D. in U.S. Women’s History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC). She is also a graduate of the William R. Harvey Executive Leadership Institute, Leadership Person County, and the American Council on Education Leadership Program.
Prior to serving as CEO of her own company, Blackwell worked as a tenured professor of History at both North Carolina Central University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Between 2005 and 2018, she served as Provost at Bennett College for Women (Greensboro, NC) and Provost at South Carolina State University (Orangeburg, SC). Blackwell has served, or serves, as Executive Director of a nonprofit in Person County as well as the Board of Directors of national organizations.
Blackwell has amassed a multimillion-dollar grant portfolio to support academic and community initiatives. She is also the recipient of several awards and is a Mary McLeod Bethune Scholar and an Oxford Roundtable Scholar. She was recently selected for inclusion in Marquis Who’s Who in America for her noteworthy research on women and girls of color.
In addition to holding membership in several national professional organizations, Blackwell is an American Council on Education Executive Leadership Fellow, Ford Foundation Fellow, and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow. She is a member of the Durham Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. as well as other local organizations in Durham.
Blackwell has been excited about being able to transfer her leadership skills and her work on equity and inclusion issues around issues to the work that she has done with both the Durham Compact and Built2Last. She has been engaged in this work with the City since September 2018.