Layli Maparyan, Ph.D., is the Katherine Stone Kaufmann ’67 Executive Director of the Wellesley Centers for Women and Professor and Chair of Africana Studies at Wellesley College. She is a leading authority on womanism, a social change perspective rooted in Africana women’s worldview, culture, and history. Her books include The Womanist Reader (Routledge, 2006), The Womanist Idea (Routledge, 2012), and the forthcoming Womanism Rising. Over the course of her career, she has published over 45 journal articles and book chapters spanning the fields of Africana studies, women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, psychology, and, most recently, Baha’í studies.
Dr. Maparyan has received numerous grants, fellowships, and awards. Her combined extramural and intramural awards total over $1.5 million. She is a current and past Fulbright Specialist focused on West Africa. In 2009, she received a Contemplative Practice Fellowship from the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society to study spiritual activism. In 2011, her work as a professor inspiring students to make social change was recognized with a $25,000 award from the Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award Trust of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
In terms of community engagement, Dr. Maparyan sits on the board of directors of the Global Fund for Women, serving as its governance committee chair. Additional board engagements include the Sustainable Market Women’s Fund (SMWF) and the University Consortium for Liberia (UCL). She joined the Tahirih Justice Center’s board in 2021. Dr. Maparyan is a member of the Baha’í Faith, and is a frequent speaker at Baha’í schools and events on the topics related to race, gender, justice, and social change from a Baha’í perspective. She is married to Liberian journalist and filmmaker Seboe N. Maparyan.
Education: Temple University, PhD; Penn State, MS; Spelman College, BA