Rising: From a Mud Hut to the Boardroom — and Back Again

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Pre-Order. April 18. From the Congo to Michigan, diversity, equity & inclusion expert Graci Harkema traces her path to finding her place in the world.

An identity that spans the globe.

In this astonishing memoir, Graci Harkema revisits her experience growing up as an adoptee from the Congo in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She traces her path to claiming and living her own story, becoming a successful consultant on diversity, equity and inclusion, racial justice, LGBTQ+ equality, and women in business.

Born amid civil unrest in a mud hut in the Congo and weighing a mere three pounds, Harkema was left at an orphanage, where she was not expected to live another day. But that afternoon, a visiting American missionary saw her sleeping in a doll’s bed and heard a voice inside her say, “This is your daughter.”

Her childhood was spent wishing to be lighter and blonder, like her siblings and classmates, defending what she looked like and who she was. Out of fear of standing out even more from her peers, Harmkema kept her sexuality a secret, only coming out of the closet years later—during a job interview! Today, Harkema helps drive inclusion and integrate diversity to ensure open and safe work environments. She is committed to empowering employees to perform to their potential as their true selves—setting an example as she continues to live her own story, journeying to meet her birth mother, to discover one more piece of herself.