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Leonard Graham

Engineering executive Leonard J. Graham was born on December 12, 1949 in Kansas City, Kansas to Leonard A. and Alma James Graham. He attended Kansas City, Kansas public schools and graduated from Southeast High School in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1974, Graham earned his B.A. degree in liberal arts and sciences from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and his B.S. degree in civil engineering in 1975, from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He went on to obtain his M.A. degree in civil engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1978.

While in college, Graham worked as an application engineer at Fairbanks Morse Pumps, in Kansas City. Following his undergraduate studies, he went to work as an engineer for the regional office of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1976, Graham joined the Kansas City-based consulting engineering firm Schlup Becker & Brennan as an engineer. Named partner in 1984, he worked there for sixteen years. In 1992, Graham joined and purchased the land surveying and civil and structural engineering services firm Taliaferro and Browne, Inc. as co-owner. He has served as president for twenty-seven years, where his role and area of expertise has been general civil engineering and project management including site development, storm water and wastewater engineering, roadway and transportation planning and design.
The firm has been recognized for “engineering excellence” to being “one of the top 25 largest engineering firms in Kansas City”.

From 2001 to 2002, Graham served as Honorary Chairman, Port Authority (now PortKC). In 2004, he received the Missouri Honor Award for Distinguished Service in Engineering, from the University of Missouri-Kansas City College of Engineering. Graham served as a member of the Mid-America Regional Council from 2012 to 2013, and board member for The Main Street Corridor Development Corporation from 2012 to 2018. He was the recipient of the Lucille H. Bluford Special Achievement Award from the Kansas City NAACP.

Graham has held memberships in Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Sigma Pi Phi, Midwesterners and the American Society of Civil Engineers. He was recognized as a member of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni Members at the University of Missouri.

Leonard J. Graham was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 8, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.124

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/8/2019

Last Name

Graham

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

James

Schools

Keiling Elementary School

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Northeast Junior High School

Southeast High School

University of Missouri, Kansas City

University of Missouri

First Name

Leonard

Birth City, State, Country

Kansas City

HM ID

GRA20

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Kansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Europe and Africa

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Missouri

Birth Date

12/12/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Kansas City

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Tacos

Short Description

Engineering executive Leonard J. Graham (1949- ) served as co-owner and president of land surveying and civil and structural engineering services firm Taliaferro and Browne, Inc.

Employment

Fairbanks Morse Pumps

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Schlup Becker and Brennan

Taliaferro and Browne

Favorite Color

Green

James Johnson, Jr.

Civil engineer and education administrator James H. Johnson, Jr. was born on May 27, 1947 to parents, James and Arline in Annapolis, Maryland. He earned his B.S. degree in civil engineering from Howard University. He then attended the University of Illinois, where he received his M.S. degree in sanitary engineering in 1970. Johnson worked as a consultant and as an engineer at Engineering Science before continuing his education at the University of Delaware. He received his Ph.D. degree in civil and environmental engineering in 1982.

Following the completion of his graduate studies, Johnson was offered a position on the faculty of his alma mater, Howard University. Johnson’s research focused on the treatment of hazardous compounds, contaminated soil including explosive waste, and environmental policy. He became chair of the Howard University Department of Civil Engineering in 1982. From 1989 until 2002, Johnson served as associate director of the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic Hazardous Substance Research Center. In 1996, he was appointed dean of Howard University’s College of Engineering, Architecture, and Computer Sciences and in 2005 he was named the Samuel P. Massie Professor of Civil Engineering. Four years later, Johnson became professor emeritus of civil engineering at Howard University. In 2010, he was appointed chair of the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson. Johnson was the first African American to chair this independent committee for the Agency. He has also served as chair of the U.S. EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors. In 2012, Johnson was appointed director of EPA's National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) within the Office of Research and Development. Johnson has co-edited two books, contributed to three more, and he has published over 60 academic papers.

Johnson is a diplomate of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and in 2005, he received the National Society of Black Engineers Lifetime Achievement Award in Academia. He has also been recognized with the 2008 Water Environment Federation Gordon Maskew Fair Distinguished Educator Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award by National Society of Black Engineers (DC Chapter) in 2009. He is a member of the Water Environment Federation, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Society for Engineering Education, the Association of Environmental Engineers and Science Professors and the American Academy of Environmental Engineers.

James H. Johnson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 15, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.139

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/15/2012

Last Name

Johnson

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

"Jim" H.

Schools

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

University of Delaware

Howard University

First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Annapolis

HM ID

JOH40

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

Beaches, Golfing

Favorite Quote

To him or her that is given much, much is expected.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

5/27/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fish

Short Description

Civil engineer and education administrator James Johnson, Jr. (1947 - ) is the former dean of Howard University’s College of Engineering, Architecture, and Computer Sciences, and the first African American chair of the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT).

Employment

United States Environmental Protection Agency

Howard University

Engineering Science, Inc. (Parsons)

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22098">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Johnson's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22099">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Johnson lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22100">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Johnson talks about his mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22101">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Johnson talks about the history of Annapolis, Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22102">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Johnson talks about his family's history in Annapolis, Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22103">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Johnson talks about his mother's growing up</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22104">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Johnson talks about his father's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22105">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Johnson talks about his hometown of Annapolis, Maryland</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22106">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Johnson talks about his early education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22107">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Johnson talks about his extracurricular activities</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22108">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Johnson talks about how his interest in civil engineering developed</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22109">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Johnson talks about Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination and the Civil Rights Movement</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22110">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Johnson talks about his experience at Bates High School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22111">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Johnson recalls President Lyndon B. Johnson's visit to Howard University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22112">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Johnson talks about civil engineering</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22113">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - James Johnson talks about his mentors at Howard University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22114">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Johnson talks about his studies at Howard University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22115">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Johnson talks about his decision to attend University of Illinois for graduate school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22116">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Johnson talks about his experience working at Engineering Science and the 1972 Watergate Scandal</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22117">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Johnson discusses his research on active carbon to dechlorinate water</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22118">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Johnson talks about his doctoral studies at University of Delaware while teaching at Howard</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22119">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Johnson discusses his dissertation on solid-liquid separation in water treatment</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22120">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Johnson talks about serving as chair of the Department of Civil Engineering at Howard University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22121">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Johnson reflects on his work at Howard University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22122">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Johnson discusses his contributions as Dean of Howard University's School of Engineering</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22123">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Johnson talks about Howard University School of Engineering's Leadership Institute</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22124">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Johnson talks about receiving the Man of Courage Award</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22125">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Johnson talks about treating water contaminated with radiological and hazardous waste</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22126">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Johnson talks about his work as an Environmental Health and Safety Consultant</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22127">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Johnson talks about his professional honors and awards</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22128">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Johnson describes his transition to Professor Emeritus and his research on producing biofuels</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22129">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James Johnson reflects on his legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22130">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Johnson talks about his family and their belief and pride in him</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22131">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Johnson talks about his brother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22132">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Johnson shares his thoughts about sustainability and climate change</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22133">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Johnson reflects on his career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22134">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Johnson describes how he would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/22135">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Johnson describes his photos</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

9$2

DATitle
James Johnson talks about his mentors at Howard University
James Johnson talks about Howard University School of Engineering's Leadership Institute
Transcript
Okay. Okay. So who were some of your teachers and mentors at Howard [Howard University]?$$Well, I have to say I had a lot of--I had a lot of mentors. But let me talk about at least three of them. One was a guy by the name of Walter T. Daniels. He was--Dr. Daniels was a structural engineer, first African-American to get a Ph.D. He got it from Iowa State University. Dr. Daniels, when he was working on his Ph.D. and all through his schooling while he was--he went to Prairieview undergraduate, but when he went to graduate school, and he had laboratories, he had to do his labs by himself because there were segregated--it was a segregated--he basically was segregated. But he was able to do all that and do it well, and he understood the importance of education. And when we would complain about how hard it was on us at Howard, he would tell us what it was really like to be hard. So he was a role model because he had--he got his Ph.D., he was a scholar, he had a good understanding of all of the course material, and he also was a caring person, and he nurtured a lot of young people to go on to graduate school and do things. The second one was the person who got me into environmental engineering, and his name was Man Mohan Varma.$$How do you spell that? Now what is it?$$Man, M-A-N, M-O-H-A-N, and the last name is Varma, V-A-R-M-A. Dr. Varma was a (sic) environmental engineer, and he was the one that got me interested in environmental engineering and invited me to his laboratory to work when I was a junior; said, "Why don't you come down to my lab and work and I can you some of the things we do?" So he was--he had an influence on me in terms of going into environmental engineering which, at that time, was called sanitary engineering. And I worked in his lab. He also helped me to select a graduate school. And so, that was very good because he sent me to help me go to a school where he knew that it would be a caring and a welcoming environment. So, and I actually had a chance to come back, when I came back to Howard, to work with him for many years, and he still was very helpful mentoring me; made sure I did the right things, took the right professional--made right professional choices about memberships and professional societies; being active. He and I coauthored a couple of papers together and actually hosted a couple of conferences together. So he was very influential in my career in the environmental area. The third person was a guy by the name of Raymond Jones. Ray Jones was a Howard graduate who had gone to the University of Michigan and had gotten his master's degree in sanitary engineering, and came back to Howard to teach. What was unique about Ray was that he was also a practicing engineer, and I had times that I worked on a couple of projects with him and--but he also was a good mentor, because he had a nice balance about his life. He was one of the faculty, he did--he was a practitioner, so he brought that practice to the classroom so e could see really how we could take the information we were using, learning in the classroom, and how we could take and translate it into a project. So, Ray Jones was a person who helped me see the bigger picture about life, and I think that was a--he was--he also, I think, took a special interest in me because I had a chance to work with him too. Oh, and the interesting thing that--that was that I had--I had a chance to be on the faculty with all of them after leaving Howard and coming back to the faculty. So I had a chance to know them from two perspectives.$$Okay. As a student and a faculty member?$$As a student and a faculty member.$$Now, what other activities were you engaged in at Howard? Were you part of the--$$Oh, I was a studier.$$Okay.$$I just studied. (Again?) a continuation of what I did in high school, but studying in a different way. I actually, I really did study here. And I remember being in my first classes in math and science, and I was in there with students who had come from technical high schools, and so, they'd had one year of calculus already. So what they saw in calculus they already knew, and to me it was Greek. And so, it required me to really study and go back and brush up on my algebra and trigonometry, and learn those things and relearn those things as I was doing the calculus classes. So, I remember that it was at Howard that I had to have good study habits, and I didn't have time to do other things. And I actually had a detailed schedule of everything I did, and my time for relaxation was Friday evening and, also, it would be a little bit on Saturday evening. But all the other time, except for church time on Sunday, I was studying.$$That's a tremendous work ethic. I mean, who do you cite as a source of the inspiration for that? Or did you internally (unclear)$$No. It wasn't internally. But a couple of my buddies who were in the Boy Scouts with me, at least one of them that lived right around the corner from me, also was--went to Howard and he was in electrical engineering. But he stayed one year and actually flunked out. And I always knew that they were much smarter than I was because they were two years older. So there were new things I never knew. So my inspiration was that, our high school was a good high school, and I wasn't going to do what he did and I didn't care what price I had to pay, I was going to study enough so I could make it. (So that's what I did?)$So, I'm going to--I'll repeat a little bit of what I said for continuity. I think one of the things I'm very happy about that I did while I was dean is to try to find a way to follow-through on our--the mantra of the university. When President Swygert came in, the mantra became "Leadership for America and the Global Community." So we were able to find a partner in Black and Veatch that was interested in helping us to provide a leadership institute for our students. And this was a (sic) extracurricular activity for students. What we tried to do was to have a guest speaker to come on a Friday afternoon, have a lecture on leadership that'll be open to the university community, and then have that following Saturday, the following day, full of workshops on leaderships. And we were able to do that for 15 years. So, the--our partner, Black and Veatch, stuck with us for all 15 years, and they provided us with a small grant of about 25,000. But the important thing they did is, they gave us a lot of their people to help us to prepare the material. And so, they put a lot of time and effort in beyond the dollars and cents. So, highlights. So, we had guest speakers, like, to kick off, like Bill Gates. Bill Gates came to campus. He was on a tour, and he was trying to convince--on this tour, he was doing six schools a given week, and we got selected to be done (on it too?). We were selected for his visit on Friday afternoon, and so we scheduled--we scheduled our Leadership Institute to be that weekend and here's Bill Gates to kick it off. So our students got a chance to see Bill Gates. We also had a Four-Star General to come, General Lester Lyles. He actually came in the same year of 9-11. So that was kind of iffy as to whether he would be able he'd be able to come, but I should be able to tell you he came and he was well protected. The last institute we had, our plenary speaker was General Colin Powell. So he came and talked about leadership from his perspective, followed by a workshop. We also had the administrator of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, to come and talk. So we had a lot of good people who were in leadership positions to come and to talk to our students about leadership, and we followed up with students within our college with the workshops on Saturday. So I think that, to me that was a way that we bought into the vision for the university and the mantra, and we were able to carry through. And I felt as (though?) as that was a contribution that had an impact upon a lot of our students.$$Okay. So did that start in '95 (1995) and run through 2010?$$It ran 'til 2010, right; '95 (1995) to 2010.$$Okay.$$Was the last one.$$All right. So, you said fifteen years. That pretty much locks you in (laughs).$$Oh, yeah. Yeah.$$Okay. So, what else? Anything else?$$You know, actually, I can make a list of students, because a lot of what we did was with students. I can talk about the, I think, maybe some special moments I had with students, whether it would be a teaching moment or a mentoring moment, and then look at the students three or four years down the road. But I guess I would say I always had a gang of students that I worked with, even after stepping down as dean and going into the--America's ranks and having my research projects at Howard, I still have four or five students that were, not necessary--I didn't have classes then, but they weren't in my classes, but students who came to me and kind of found me to be a person they could confide in or a person they could talk and- talk to, and we'd find ways to move them forward and help them to grow. So there were many, many, many students throughout the years that we had relationships with, in and outside the classroom that I think were very special to me, because I could see the students grow and go to the next places in their lives as a result.

Lilia Abron

Chief executive officer and chemical engineer Lilia Ann Abron was born on March 8, 1945 in Memphis, Tennessee. Her father was a school principal and her mother was a school teacher who taught art and geography. Abron attended Lemoyne College in Memphis, Tennessee where she received her B.S. degree in chemistry in 1966. She earned her M.S. degree in sanitary engineering from Washington University in St. Louis in 1968. After receiving her M.S. degree, Abron worked for the Kansas City Water Department. She went on to become a research engineer for the Metropolitan Sanitary District of Greater Chicago. Abron received her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Iowa in 1972, the first African American woman to do so.

After completing her education, Abron served as an assistant professor of civil engineering at Tennessee State University and held a joint appointment as an assistant professor of environmental engineering at Vanderbilt University. In 1975, she joined the faculty of Howard University as an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering while serving as a consultant to local engineering firms. Abron founded PEER Consultants in 1978, an environmental engineering consulting firm that provides solutions to the problems of contamination of the environment. Her firm had contracts with the Superfund program including the Boston Harbor cleanup; the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy through its Hazardous Waste Remedial Actions Program. In 1995, Abron founded Peer Africa with the mission of building energy-efficient homes in post-apartheid South Africa. Peer Africa’s Witsand iEEECO (Integrated Energy Environment Empowerment-cost Optimization) Sustainable Human Settlement won the American Academy of Engineers 2012 Superior Achievement Award.

Abron is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and the International Women’s Forum. Professionally, she is a member of the Water Environment Federation, American Water Works Association and American Society of Civil Engineers. She also serves on the Advisory Board for the College of Engineering, University of South Florida. Abron has been active in community serving as the president of the Washington DC chapter of Jack and Jill of American, Inc., and as a board member for the Baptist Home for Children. She was an original participant of the 1975 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) study, “The Double Bind: The Price of Being a Minority Woman in Science.” In 1999, Abron was the recipient of the Hancher-Finkbine Alumni Medallion from the University of Iowa; in 2001, she was awarded the Magic Hands Award by LeMoyne-Owen College, and in 2004, she was elected to the National Academy of Arts and Sciences. Abron has three adult sons.

Lilia Ann Abron was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 17, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.113

Sex

Female

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

6/17/2012

Last Name

Abron

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

A.

Occupation
Schools

LeMoyne-Owen College

Washington University in St Louis

University of Iowa

Search Occupation Category
Archival Photo 2
First Name

Lilia

Birth City, State, Country

Memphis

HM ID

ABR01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

I won't worry about that today, I'll worry about it tomorrow.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

3/8/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Short Description

Chemical engineer Lilia Abron (1945 - ) , the first African American woman to receive her Ph.D. in chemical engineering, founded PEER Consultants, an environmental engineering consulting firm.

Employment

Kansas City water department

Tennessee State University

Vanderbilt University

Howard University

PEER Consultants

Peer Africa

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21736">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lilia Abron's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21737">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lilia Abron lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21738">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lilia Abron describes her mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21739">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lilia Abron talks about her mother's growing up and education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21740">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lilia Abron describes her mother's family resemblance</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21741">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lilia Abron talks about her mother's role in the family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21742">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lilia Abron talks about her family as land owners</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21743">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lilia Abron describes her father's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21744">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lilia Abron talks about her grandparents</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21745">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lilia Abron talks about her father's education and how her parents met</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21746">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lilia Abron talks about her siblings and her parents' personalities</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21747">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lilia Abron describes her earliest childhood memories</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21748">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lilia Abron talks about her childhood neighborhoods</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21749">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lilia Abron describes the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21750">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lilia Abron talks about the racial climate of Memphis when she was a child</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21751">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lilia Abron talks about her childhood career interests</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21752">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lilia Abron talks about her elementary school experience</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21753">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lilia Abron talks about the structure of her childhood schools</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21754">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lilia Abron talks about her family's involvement in the Civil Rights Movement</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21755">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lilia Abron talks about her family's involvement in the Civil Rights Movement- part 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21756">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lilia Abron talks about her academic standing during high school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21757">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lilia Abron talks about her social life during high school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21758">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lilia Abron talks about her decision to attend Lemoyne Owen College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21759">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lilia Abron talks about her experience at Lemoyne-Owen College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21760">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lilia Abron talks about famous people that visited Lemoyne-Owen College</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21761">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lilia Abron talks about the music of Memphis and her peers from college</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21762">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lilia Abron talks about her peers during her college years</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21763">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lilia Abron talks about her decision to major in chemistry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21764">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lilia Abron talks about her decision to pursue her graduate studies at Washington University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21765">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lilia Abron talks about her experience at Washington University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21766">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lilia Abron talks about what a sanitary engineer does</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21767">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lilia Abron talks about environmental justice and her professors at Washington University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21768">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lilia Abron describes the social unrest after Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21769">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lilia Abron talks about her mentors and research at the University of Iowa</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21770">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lilia Abron talks about bottled water</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21771">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lilia Abron talks about her post-doctoral employment opportunities and African American women in STEM</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21772">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lilia Abron talks about her experience teaching at Howard University and how her career trajectory shifted</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21773">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Lilia Abron talks about how she met her husband</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21774">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Lilia Abron talks about her business, PEER Consultants</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21775">Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Lilia Abron talks about environmental racism</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21776">Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Lilia Abron talks about her consulting projects from her business, PEER Consultants</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21777">Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Lilia Abron talks about PEER Africa and her work in Africa- part 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21778">Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Lilia Abron talks about PEER Africa and her work in Africa- part 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21779">Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Lilia Abron talks about her awards and her future plans</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21780">Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Lilia Abron talks about her business partner, Douglas Guy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21781">Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Lilia Abron talks about the dynamics of working in South Africa</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21782">Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Lilia Abron reflects on her legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21783">Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Lilia Abron talks about the business operations at PEER</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21784">Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Lilia Abron reflects on her career and talks about the challenges of owning a small business</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21785">Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Lilia Abron talks about her family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21786">Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Lilia Abron talks about how she would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/21787">Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Lilia Abron describes her photos</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

5$5

DATitle
Lilia Abron talks about her decision to pursue her graduate studies at Washington University
Lilia Abron talks about PEER Africa and her work in Africa- part 1
Transcript
So then I saw these signs on the bulletin board one day for fellowships in sanitary engineering. What is that? And then about that time I, I had read Silent Spring and trying to figure out you know what to do. And the thing with Silent Spring just kind of upset me as to what we were doing. But then I, I hadn't connected the two and then I saw this. So I said well hmm, interesting. So I wrote and asked them what it was all about and they were recruiting. They were out looking for minority students cause this was beginning to be the heyday when white schools were going after black students and all. So they sent a group down to recruit me and that was so funny. My mom had to make sure that they were going to look after me. I mean I am grown, graduating from college and she still wants to know if I'm going to be safe on campus and are they going to look after me, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. But at any rate, so I got the full fellowship, full ride at Washington University. And I had read up about the curriculum and what they did and then I was beginning to put the Silent Spring together with what they did and oh!, so that's how that happened.$$Okay. All right, so Washington University in St. Louis, this is 1966. You start--now oh, before we leave Lemoyne, were there any special teachers that, like that you remember there that were either a mentor to you or really impressed you there?$$My chemistry professor, Dr. Buehler.$$Doctor what?$$Dr. Buehler, B-U-E-H-L-E-R, pushed me, kept me going, kept me moving. Dr. Williamson, she was the English professor and a linguist, probably the first black to get a Ph.D. in linguistics. She and my mom by the way were at Lemoyne together. She was younger than my mother. So I think when my mom was graduating she was just coming in and she was a Delta also. But she was really four years, I was there, fantastic. And she was doing a book on black speech and one of my jobs is I transcribed a lot of her tapes. So that was really fascinating watching her write a book. She wrote a book, never met anybody who wrote a book. And Mr. Whittaker he was, who was a music professor but he had taught me piano lessons for whole--all twelve years. So those are the people that really stand out. Professor Gibson who was the biology professor got really upset when I got the fellowship from Washington University and he just frankly told me to my face that I would never make it. But that's you know you had, still had stuff like that at Lemoyne even though you wouldn't know it. But you, you know--I wasn't--$$(Unclear).$$I wasn't a biology major. I wasn't--he just said you won't make it. You won't, you know. I don't know some people are like that. Only his students were the best and his students all went to Meharry [Medical College] and he handpicked who he considered were the best students. I wasn't one of his handpicked--I never wanted to be cause I didn't want to major in biology. And I think those are the ones that really stand out.$Now you started PEER Africa in 1995, right?$$Well '94 [1994] and we incorporated in '95 [1995].$$Okay. Tell us how that got started.$$Well I had wanted to go international started around 1990 and I had looked at going into Liberia because we thought the war would be over. Didn't know that it's still not over but at any rate a friend of mine, I was on the advisory board for the business school at Langston University and 1993 he called up one day and said oh, I'm going to have our next board meeting in South Africa. And I said you're going to have your next board meeting from Langston University B School in South Africa? Yes! I said, okay I guess we'll go. And I had already kind of started thinking about this was '93 [1993], ninety--this was '94 [1994], '94 [1994] and Nelson Mandela was president so I had kind of started thinking about umm, wonder if there is the opportunity that I might be able to do something in South Africa. So I said okay. So I went to the board meeting and while I was there for those two weeks for the board meeting I started looking around on the possibly of working, doing, see how we could do working. I wanted to do classical environmental engineering cause South Africa had said they wanted tourism to be one of their number one attractions and the country is very contaminated from all of the mining they do over there. They--it's a very rich country and they have--you name it, the minerals they have. They have--they're the fifth largest export of coal in the world, they have diamonds, they have gold, they have platinum, they have everything. So we had started talking to the Chamber of Mines about doing clean up work for them and President Mandela had instituted this housing program where he had set aside 5 percent of their GDP to get his homeless families into formal housing. So you had all of these housing projects going on and I'd ride up and down the street and see all of these and I kept wondering why they weren't doing them correctly with so many houses they had to build, why weren't they taking sustainable design into consideration and passive solar. And now this was before it became the buzz word that it is now, this is in '94 [1994], '95 [1995]. But I still felt with 5 million home, come on, or 5 million homeless families, surely you got to do this thing right and they weren't. So I went to Secretary O'Leary who was head of Energy under bill Clinton and they had this--$$It was Hazel O'Leary.$$Huh?$$Hazel O'Leary.$$Hazel, yeah. And they had this program that they had set up called Gore-Mbeki Bi-National Commission and six months, every six months they would either come to the U.S. or the U.S. would go to South Africa and this was a cooperation between the two vice presidents which they thought were going to become the presidents and to help them get up on their feet after apartheid. So I went to her and said you know one thing, sure would like to demonstrate passive solar and all this building they're doing. So she said well I'll give you a little money. I said what's little? Why don't you build one? So we became part of what they call the housing program under the Gore-Mbeki Bi-National Commission. So we were able to put up a couple of pallet houses and so that's how we got started in South Africa was through--we had already you know made some inroads and everything but that relationship really helped to push us over the top and to help us get solidified.