Featuring Wanda M. Holland Greene
Wanda M. Holland Greene is native New Yorker who has been head of The Hamlin School in San Francisco since July 2008. An experienced leader in education with a powerful voice and presence, Wanda has focused her attention on academic and ethical excellence, teacher evaluation, diversity and inclusion, adolescent health and global citizenship. The daughter of a Pentecostal preacher, she is well known for infusing her inspirational messages with poetry and song. In 2014, she was named one of San Francisco’s Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business, and in 2015 she received a Women Making History Award to honor her leadership in education.
We had the opportunity to interview author Wanda M. Holland Greene, whose essay “A Hairy Situation” appears in All the Women in My Family Sing. This is what we learned…
What inspired you to write your essay for this anthology?
I love to write about everyday life lessons; as a child, I learned a lot from reading the parables in the Bible. My essay about hair is a modern-day parable about beauty and shame. Moreover, I wanted to be a part of something amazing. I adore being in the company of great women who inspire me.
What is one of the most memorable challenges you have experienced as a woman of color in the twenty-first century?
It would be easy to say that being a mother and a professional is a memorable challenge, but that is just the busy and wonderful life I chose to lead. I would say that my most memorable and difficult challenge is dealing with “everyday racism.” Not the big, ugly acts, but the micro-aggressions that cut deeply over time. No matter how much success I experience, I am challenged by the narrow-mindedness of bigots who neither see nor understand the greatness of women of color.
Give an example of women’s roles in today’s social justice movement.
These days, I am looking to women in politics for my inspiration. I admire Maxine Waters, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, and Kamala Harris as they strive to level the playing field for women, immigrants, and children.
What have your experiences been in leadership as a woman of color?
I am the proud Head of The Hamlin School, and its first African-American head of school. I am a passionate leader in education as well as a trustee at several schools, a motivational speaker, and mentor and sponsor for women and people of color who aspire to leadership
What do you most hope readers will take away from reading this book?
I hope that readers draw strength, inspiration, and wisdom from our stories. Individual lives are shaped by memories and stories, yet when we share those memories and stories, we create connective tissue between human beings. Ultimately, storytelling builds community and makes us feel connected and more fully human.