Growing up in a tight-knit African-American community in Evansville, Indiana, Dr. Talitha Washington quickly understood the role that her race and racism would play in her life—always choosing to rise above it all. Amongst her Black cohort at Spelman College, Dr. Washington felt she was finally able to learn freely, and without the pressure of being the only Black student in the class. The mathematics scholar is now the Director of the Atlanta University Center (AUC) Data Science Initiative where she works with HBCUs to increase the number of minorities earning data science credentials and further develop science that advances social justice. Throughout her career as a Ph. D mathematician, she’s actively challenging the assumptions of who can succeed in mathematics, and how her perseverance in the field is shaping who can and should be contributing to science.  


Talitha Washington

Talitha Washington is the inaugural Director of the Atlanta University Center (AUC) Data Science Initiative, a Professor of Mathematics at Clark Atlanta University and an affiliate faculty at Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Spelman College.

Dr. Washington is the Director and lead principal investigator of the NSF-funded National Data Science Alliance (NDSA) and the President of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM). She works across Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to increase the number of Blacks with expertise in data science and expand data science research that advocates for social justice.

Most recently, Dr. Washington was a Program Director at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the Convergence Accelerator, and she was instrumental in building and establishing NSF's first Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) Program. She is the recipient of the 2019 BEYA STEM Innovator Award, the 2019 Outstanding Faculty Award from Howard University, and the 2020 NSF Director's Award for Superior Accomplishment. She is a Fellow of the AWM, the American Mathematical Society (AMS), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

About Key Conversations 


Key Conversations with Phi Beta Kappa is a podcast featuring in-depth conversations between Fred Lawrence, Secretary/CEO of Phi Beta Kappa, and Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholars. With a new episode released monthly, each podcast invites listeners to take a seat at the table to learn more about the featured Scholar's background, research, and how they have taken their respective paths to where they are now, and where they are headed. 

Since 1956, the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program has been offering undergraduates the opportunity to spend time with some of America's most distinguished scholars. The purpose of the program is to contribute to the intellectual life of the campus by making possible an exchange of ideas between the Visiting Scholars and the resident faculty and students.​

Our Host

Frederick M. Lawrence is the 10th Secretary and CEO of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. An accomplished scholar, teacher and attorney, he is one of the nation’s leading experts on civil rights, free expression, and bias crimes. Learn More.

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