Dr. Doretha Walker is an activist, educator, and business coach in Savannah, GA. While she values holding a Ph.D. (Business), Dr. Walker attributes most of her success to having served in the military where she learned valuable life lessons, especially in confronting challenges. These lessons coupled with the knowledge gained from her academic/professional studies have served her well as a teacher and mentor to a diverse group of students. A marathoner, triathlete, biker, yoga enthusiast, and an activist, Dr. Walker strives to maintain balance between these diverse personal goals and her professional life in which she excels. She also takes great pride in having conducted workshops for Focus WC and cultivating meaningful relationships with participants.
Tell us about your business(es)/employer. List services offered and/or work you do, and how you describe what you do to others:
I teach undergraduate business, graduate business, leadership, and public administration courses as well as doctorate level courses. I have been in academics for 10 years.
Are you involved with the community, any nonprofits, etc. and why is that important?
Yes, I have been involved with nonprofits my entire life. My parents taught me the importance of giving back. I continue that legacy in a variety of ways. Most noteworthy are serving as Commissioner on the Savannah Recreation Commission, Co-Founder of The Civil Rights Race series, Faculty member of the Women’s Leadership Institute, Founder of Black Girls Run, and Founder of the Walker Phenomenal Spirit Award which funds women’s dreams.
What is your vision or hope for women in the Mobile and Gulf Coast communities?
While I do not live in the Mobile and Gulf Coast communities my vision for them is the same vision I have for all women: that we be able to live and thrive in environments where we have full agency over our bodies free from violence, exclusion, discrimination, and poverty. And that there will be lots of laughter.
Are there any specific policies and/or laws you would like to see changed to advance women?
The Equal Rights Amendment, Mandatory Paid Parental Leave beyond 12 weeks, Jury exemption for breastfeeding, DNA bill of rights (test rape kits within 20 days of being administered), extend childhood sexual assault statute of limitations, hair discrimination ban, and any law that restricts our agency over our own bodies.
What advice or suggestions can you give to women walking the path of empowerment or struggling with self-doubt?
Just keep walking. We all struggle with doubt. Do not compare yourself to others. Your life is your race, your pace.
Was there a moment for you that was a game changer, and can you tell us about it?
The game changer for me was when I was in the Army, and I was challenged by someone who had been in the Army more years than I had been alive. I took a deep breath and answered the challenge. I immediately called my dad (a 30-year Army veteran), and he asked me what took me so long to rise to the challenge? Having my dad back me up was huge. That one event gained me the respect of not only my peers, but my soldiers as well as my boss.
“My hope for women is that there be lots of laughter.”
How important has education and/or continuing education been to you?
Well, I have a Ph.D., so it is particularly important to me. I also take classes to get certifications in areas like running and yoga. I don’t believe that having degrees makes me smarter. My degrees simply give me access to levels of information and knowledge that others do not have. It also affords me with greater opportunities to affect change. That was always my goal–to affect change.
How do you feel about Forty Over Forty and being a part of it?
I am ecstatic. I have never been a part of anything like this. I was always jealous of the 40 under 40 group. It feels great to be a part of amazing women who are creating paradigm shifts and inspiring others.
Do you have a mentor? Who are they and how have they helped you?
I am fortunate to have many women who support me. They provide me with a safe place to be honest, to cry, to scream, and to reflect. They are always in my corner, regardless of the situation or the time of day.
You seem to really love what you do, tell us why:
I love sharing wisdom. I also love gaining wisdom, and that comes from everyone. I make it a point to know the names of everyone who works in my office building. I learn something new every day from the people I encounter.
How do you think professional environments need to change to support and/or be more welcoming to women?
Greater access to childcare (perhaps on-site), better access to health care, flexible hours, equitable pay, and generous maternity leave.
What/who inspires you?
Growing up, I wanted to be Angela Davis. I marvel at her tenacity, courage, critical thinking skills, and her desire to make things happen for the betterment of Black people. I try to channel my inner Angela Davis by standing for what is right, what is fair, and what is just, even if that makes others uncomfortable. Everyone has a right to be seen and heard.
How do you take care of yourself everyday so that you stay balanced and centered?
That is probably the thing I do the least. This year I have vowed to do more self-care. I strive for 5 hours a week of physical activity (running, walking, yoga, biking). I am also cooking more; I find that preparing a home-cooked meal can take the edge off even the most brutal day. And I signed up to do a half marathon. It will be my 26th.