Dr. Elaine Richardson, Ph.D.

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Dr. Elaine Richardson, Ph.D. | Author, Artist, Scholar, Speaker.

The Ohio State University Professor of Literacy Studies, College of Education and Human Ecology


In the spirit of Dr. Maya Angelou, Dr. Elaine Richardson aka “Dr. E” is a multidimensional personality: inspirational professor, performer, author and mentor are just a few of the ways she gives back and gives thanks.  Her message is empowerment through education, and knowledge of self and history. Her motto is: “Ignorance, low self-esteem and shame are killers. When you know who you are, nobody can control you.” She credits the undying love of her mother and education with saving her life from a cycle of drug-addiction, abusive pimps, and the dangerous life of teen aged and young adult sex-trafficking on the streets of Cleveland.

Richardson re-enrolled into Cleveland State University, in 1987. The road was not easy, especially as a single mom of three small children, but with the help of family, mentors, tutors and academic advisors, Richardson allowed her frustration to propel her efforts, graduating with undergraduate and graduate degrees in English from Cleveland State University in 1991 and 1993. She was awarded a minority doctoral fellowship under the guidance of her academic mentor, Geneva Smitherman, one of the foremost linguists in the country, and in 1996, Richardson graduated with a doctorate in English and Applied Linguistics from Michigan State University.

Author of three books, and co-author of three others on academic studies of American Black-language patterns, Elaine Richardson has taught at both The University of Minnesota, and The Pennsylvania State University before returning to Ohio in 2007 to accept a full professorship in Literacy Studies in the College of Education and Human Ecology at The Ohio State University and pen her memoir to encourage others to take their rightful places in the world: PHD (Po H# on Dope) to Ph.D.: How Education Saved My Life (New City Community Press, 2013). Her forthcoming book, “Reading the World with Black Girls” focuses on experiences of Black women and girls, in particular, highlighting and challenging racialized gender violence in society as central to literacy education. The work grows out of an afterschool club for Black middle school girls in an afterschool context and is informed by Black and Hiphop Feminist perspectives focusing on collective empowerment, critical consciousness and liberatory education.


In addition to her life as an author and academician, Dr. E is a songwriter, recording artist, and performer. She has had her music played in television shows, most recently Fox’s new series “Star.” In 2010, she released her first solo recording Elevated, which was nominated for a Soultracks best new artist award.  She tours the country performing Dr. E’s PHD to PhD: How Education Saved My Life-One-Woman-Show based on excerpts from her memoir and latest recording Songs for the Struggle. Dr. E is also a much sought after motivational speaker, lecturer, and performer.


Dr. E has won many awards: Twin Cities Reader Critics Choice Award (2017) for One-Woman Show PHD to PhD: How Education Saved My Life; The Ohio State University, College of Education, Diversity Enhancement Award, 2014; Who’s Who Black Columbus and Ohio State University 2016, 2015, 2014; The Ohio State University Community Cultural Icon Award, 2013; Top 25 Most Influential African American Women of Cleveland, Ohio-WZAK/Heineken, 2013; National Council of Negro Women, Community Service Award, 2012; Outstanding Woman of Columbus, 2011; Cleveland State University Distinguished Alumni, 2007; TRiO Achiever Award, Mid-America Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel (MAEOPP), 2006; Edward Fry Book Award, National Reading Conference for, African American Literacies, 2005; Fulbright lecturing/researcher in the Department of Literature in English at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica, 2004; National Communication Association Book Award for edited collection with Ronald L. Jackson, Understanding African American Rhetoric: Classical Origins to Contemporary Innovations, 2004.


Dr. E’s professional memberships include the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), The Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), The National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA), Committee of Linguists of African Descent (CLAD), Broadcast Music, Inc (BMI); Dr. E is also Chair of Education Foundation for Freedom, which focuses on prevention of vulnerability of women and girls of color to sexual exploitation.  She sits on the boards of the Foundation for the African Diaspora, focusing on the self-sustainability and education of people of African descent and Greater Possibilities LLC, focusing on community re-entry of formerly incarcerated persons.


Dr. E has been featured in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Call & Post, Columbus Dispatch, Phenomenal Woman Magazine, WEWS Kaleidoscope with Leon Bibb, The Pittsburgh Courier, Syracuse Post-Standard, Springfield News-Leader, Altoona Mirror, State College Magazine, among others. She has also been recognized by Who’s Who in Black Cleveland and Columbus.  Her memoir, PHD (Po H# on Dope) to Ph.D., was nominated for best non-fiction, by the African American Literary Awards Show in 2013 and honorable mention for the 10 Best Black Books (non-fiction) by AFRO.COM.


Dr. E is the founder of The Ohio State University’s Hiphop Literacies Conference, as well as a committed advocate, actively raising funds for scholarships, donating profits from her CDs, book sales and speaking engagements. For more on Dr. E visit http://www.giveusfreerecords.com and phdtophd.com