GradImpact: Building Community-Based Organizations for Violence Prevention and Education

    Dorothy Johnson-Speight is currently working towards her EdD at Fielding Graduate University in California, but her path to get here has been harder than she ever imagined. In 2001, Johnson-Speight was thinking about her doctorate. Her son Khaaliq Johnson was entering a master’s program, and the two were making long-term plans to open a practice in their Philadelphia community to support at-risk kids. In December of that year, her life was devastated by the senseless murder of her son during an argument over a parking spot.


    Johnson-Speight was determined to turn her grief into something positive. She began holding meetings at her local church with other mothers to talk about preventing violence in the community, and the response was overwhelming. Johnson-Speight founded the grassroots nonprofit, Mothers in Charge, an organization that “works to prevent violence through education and intervention.” Mothers in Charge has provided grief counseling, youth mentoring, anger-management and conflict-resolution classes, job-training courses, and more.


    Johnson-Speight spoke at The Women of the World Summit in New York, was invited to meet the Pope during his visit to a Philadelphia prison, and was recently named a Soros Justice Fellow. Mothers in Charge has chapters in a dozen cities across the country and continues to grow. But, Johnson-Speight made a promise to her son, and now she’s finishing the work they planned to do together. To learn more about Dorothy’s work, visit the Fielding Graduate University website.



    The CGS GRADIMPACT project draws from member examples to tell the larger story of graduate education. Our goal is to demonstrate the importance of graduate education not only to degree holders, but also to the communities where we live and work. Do you have a great story to share about the impact of master’s or doctoral education? Visit our WEBSITE for more information.


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