The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon

Search Results

Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Gloria Burgess

Business consultant, educator, and poet Gloria Jean Burgess was born on May 23, 1953 in Oxford, Mississippi. Her father, Earnest McEwen, Jr. received a college education thanks to funding from Nobel laureate author William Faulkner, on the condition that his gift be passed on to others, which McEwen did for Gloria and his other four daughters. Burgess grew up in Detroit, where she attended Ralph Bunche Elementary School, and Ann Arbor, where she attended Northside Elementary School, Forsythe Junior High School and graduated from Huron High School. Burgess attended the University of Michigan, studying poetry with Robert Hayden and drama. She earned her B.G.S. degree in education, anthropology, English and speech communication in 1975.

Burgess obtained her M.A. degree in speech communication and theater from the University of Michigan in 1977, earning notoriety as a Distinguished Fellow and Scholar in Direction and Performance. She attended the University of Southern California (USC) in the late 1970s, obtaining her Ph.D. in performance studies. Burgess continued studying, earning her M.B.A. degree from USC in 1986 in organizational behavior and design and information systems.

In 1988, Burgess was appointed assistant professor at the University of Washington College of Engineering, teaching leadership, management, cross cultural studies, and creativity to engineering students. In 1991, Burgess became director of multimedia development for Aldus Corporation, the organization responsible for PageMaker software. In 1994, Burgess founded Jazz, Inc., an executive coaching and consulting organization. She also founded The Lift Every Voice Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to leadership development for underserved, underrepresented youth. Burgess continued studying during this time, and in 1995 earned her M.A. degree in applied behavioral science from Bastyr University. Upon graduating, she became graduate faculty and program lead for their graduate program in leadership and applied behavioral science.

Burgess continued studying poetry as well, becoming a Fellow in the new Cave Canem organization for African American poets and writers in 1996. She became a consultant for Bastyr University's Leadership Institute the following year, consulting for faculty, undergraduate and graduate programs. Burgess spent 1997 through 1999 as a consultant for Boeing Corporation, and in 1998 was appointed to Leadership Tomorrow's Core Faculty. That same year, she published her first book of poetry, entitled Journey of the Rose. Despite all this activity, Burgess managed to remain involved in "Keepers of the Dream" with the Group Theatre Company, a celebration of African American women.

In 2000, Burgess expanded her coaching and consulting practice and became executive coach to the Dean of Libraries at the University of Washington. She also published her second book of poetry in 2001, entitled The Open Door, and wrote her first book for children entitled Hold Fast to Dreams: Pass It On!, about her father's relationship with William Faulkner.

Burgess lives with her husband, John, and daughter, Quinn in Edmonds, Washington.

Burgess was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 26, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.306

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/3/2008

10/26/2007

Last Name

Burgess

Maker Category
Schools

Huron High School

Forsythe Junior High School

Ralph Bunche Elementary School

University of Michigan

University of Southern California

Bastyr University

First Name

Gloria

Birth City, State, Country

Oxford

HM ID

BUR18

Favorite Season

Winter

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Pass It On.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Washington

Interview Description
Birth Date

5/23/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Seattle

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Pie (Sweet Potato)

Short Description

Arts administrator Gloria Burgess (1953 - ) founded Jazz, Inc., an executive coaching and consulting organization. She is also the author of, "Hold Fast to Dreams: Pass It On!"

Employment

Casey Family Programs

Jazz, Inc.

Aldus/Adobe Corp.

University of Washington

Honeywell

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
0,0:4930,29:5922,46:6170,51:15314,156:15586,161:16674,182:17150,192:17898,204:18306,211:20240,230:20800,240:21220,247:21640,254:22830,270:23110,275:26996,290:28700,324:29197,332:35680,410:38104,437:38602,444:39515,461:39847,466:40179,471:40677,478:41341,488:44086,515:44618,524:45682,545:46290,554:48342,596:49178,614:49862,640:50394,650:51078,660:51534,671:61669,795:62333,804:62665,809:63910,837:67396,910:68475,928:68890,934:69471,943:70550,960:71214,971:74130,977:75882,1010:82671,1165:82963,1170:92720,1313:101439,1367:102060,1377:103302,1398:103647,1404:104337,1415:106200,1458:109719,1535:113424,1556:115057,1589:116051,1606:117977,1617:118391,1626:118736,1632:119426,1650:119978,1659:121453,1666:123920,1672:124240,1677:125360,1693:125920,1703:126480,1711:127120,1727:127600,1734:128160,1742:128480,1747:129600,1778:131870,1783:132272,1795:132540,1800:132808,1805:135019,1844:135354,1850:135957,1860:145680,1976:146024,2057:147400,2071:148690,2117:149292,2126:149722,2139:150410,2148:150840,2154:152388,2237:160240,2263$0,0:224,2:896,19:1456,32:18190,211:19096,219:24526,295:28854,368:30828,414:41390,607:41870,624:44910,679:45710,693:48270,746:48670,752:48990,757:50830,787:54340,792:54862,802:55616,816:55848,821:56080,826:56486,834:57008,846:57530,856:57762,861:57994,866:59386,906:59734,913:60314,926:61010,940:61532,952:62518,976:64142,1015:65244,1042:65824,1054:66288,1080:68492,1138:69072,1155:69536,1165:69826,1171:70290,1182:70696,1191:71740,1215:77460,1240:78734,1257:80190,1277:80736,1284:82647,1317:83011,1322:85380,1327:85770,1333:86082,1338:86628,1346:86940,1351:87252,1356:87720,1363:88578,1376:92088,1408:92456,1413:96476,1456:96924,1466:97148,1471:97372,1476:97820,1497:98212,1507:98884,1522:99108,1527:99388,1533:99948,1545:100620,1559:102188,1594:103868,1639:110074,1723:110346,1728:112114,1766:113542,1795:114154,1807:114698,1819:114970,1824:115446,1833:117078,1858:117758,1874:118166,1881:118438,1886:119594,1912:119866,1917:121022,1934:121430,1941:126940,1974:127615,1994:130240,2043:130540,2048:132190,2086:132790,2103:134590,2141:136465,2176:136915,2183:137215,2188:137890,2199:146132,2329:148456,2385:149120,2394:160790,2527:161190,2532:161890,2540:167550,2559:168000,2567:168675,2577:169275,2589:169800,2598:170550,2609:171600,2625:172275,2636:172950,2648:173775,2663:174375,2673:174675,2678:178294,2694:179906,2725:180278,2733:181952,2775:182882,2794:183378,2800:184122,2815:184804,2834:192988,2911:194067,2922:198604,2972:199284,2986:200168,3000:200440,3005:201120,3021:202616,3044:203364,3057:206906,3089:207422,3096:208368,3108:209314,3120:210776,3140:211206,3146:214216,3181:216366,3214:217054,3226:222572,3274:223055,3282:223331,3287:224504,3308:228724,3350:229207,3358:229690,3367:231001,3405:232519,3440:233209,3451:243882,3560:248952,3729:252696,3835:253164,3843:256362,3908:261308,3920:261564,3926:261884,3932:263932,3965:266492,4031:267132,4042:269840,4057
DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145573">Tape: 1 Slating of Gloria Burgess' interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145574">Tape: 1 Gloria Burgess lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145575">Tape: 1 Gloria Burgess describes her mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145576">Tape: 1 Gloria Burgess talks about her maternal great-great-grandfather</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145577">Tape: 1 Gloria Burgess talks about her maternal family's sharecropping</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145578">Tape: 1 Gloria Burgess talks about her mother's childhood in Abbeville, Mississippi</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145579">Tape: 1 Gloria Burgess describes her father's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145580">Tape: 1 Gloria Burgess describes Oxford, Mississippi and her father's educational background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145581">Tape: 1 Gloria Burgess talks about her father's employment at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145582">Tape: 1 Gloria Burgess describes how her parents met and developed a relationship</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145583">Tape: 1 Gloria Burgess talks about her father's close friendship with author William Faulkner</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145584">Tape: 1 Gloria Burgess talks about her father's participation in a walkout at Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College in Lorman, Mississippi</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145585">Tape: 2 Gloria Burgess explains why her father was expelled from Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College in Lorman, Mississippi, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145586">Tape: 2 Gloria Burgess explains why her father was expelled from Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College in Lorman, Mississippi, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145587">Tape: 2 Gloria Burgess talks about her father's studies at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145588">Tape: 2 Gloria Burgess talks about her family's move north and her father's inability to find work</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145589">Tape: 2 Gloria Burgess considers her likeness to her parents</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145590">Tape: 2 Gloria Burgess describes her childhood in Detroit, Michigan</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145591">Tape: 2 Gloria Burgess describes her earliest childhood memory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145592">Tape: 2 Gloria Burgess describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145593">Tape: 2 Gloria Burgess recalls spending time with her extended family in Detroit, Michigan</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145594">Tape: 2 Gloria Burgess lists the elementary schools she attended in Detroit, Michigan</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145595">Tape: 2 Gloria Burgess describes her father's jobs in Ann Arbor, Michigan</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145596">Tape: 2 Gloria Burgess describes difficulties she experienced transitioning from Detroit to Ann Arbor, Michigan</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145597">Tape: 2 Gloria Burgess explains her father's decision to relocate to Ann Arbor, Michigan</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145598">Tape: 2 Gloria Burgess lists the schools she attended in Ann Arbor, Michigan and her favorite teachers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/147302">Tape: 3 Gloria Burgess recalls being introduced to Langston Hughes' work in the sixth grade</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/147303">Tape: 3 Gloria Burgess talks about her family's private relationship with William Faulkner</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/147304">Tape: 3 Gloria Burgess describes her academic interests and personality as an elementary and high school student</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/147305">Tape: 3 Gloria Burgess remembers Gwendolyn Brooks' visit to Huron High School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/147306">Tape: 3 Gloria Burgess talks about her decision to attend University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/147307">Tape: 3 Gloria Burgess talks about studying under Robert Hayden and Eva Jessye at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/147308">Tape: 3 Gloria Burgess remembers when she started to wear her hair natural</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/147309">Tape: 3 Gloria Burgess talks about her family's discussions of the Civil Rights Movement and racism</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/147310">Tape: 3 Gloria Burgess recalls the assassinations of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert Kennedy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/147311">Tape: 3 Gloria Burgess talks about her undergraduate majors</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/147312">Tape: 3 Gloria Burgess talks about her experience with poet Robert Hayden</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/147313">Tape: 3 Gloria Burgess remembers choral director Eva Jessye, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145611">Tape: 4 Gloria Burgess remembers choral director Eva Jessye, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145612">Tape: 4 Gloria Burgess remembers professors that were both positive and negative influences</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145613">Tape: 4 Gloria Burgess talks about earning her M.A. degree in Performance Studies from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145614">Tape: 4 Gloria Burgess talks about earning her Ph.D. degree from the University of Southern California and describes her dissertation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145615">Tape: 4 Gloria Burgess talks about transitioning from academia into technology and business</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145616">Tape: 4 Gloria Burgess explains why she wanted to earn an M.B.A. degree</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145617">Tape: 4 Gloria Burgess talks about her appointment as assistant professor at the College of Engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145618">Tape: 4 Gloria Burgess describes meeting and marrying her husband</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145619">Tape: 4 Gloria Burgess describes her experience as an assistant professor in the University of Washington's College of Engineering in Seattle, Washington</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145620">Tape: 4 Gloria Burgess describes joining the Aldus Corporation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/145621">Tape: 4 Gloria Burgess describes her experience at the Aldus Corporation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/149144">Tape: 5 Gloria Burgess talks about earning a third M.A. degree from Bastyr University in Kenmore, Washington</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/149145">Tape: 5 Gloria Burgess talks about her consulting company, Jazz, Incorporated</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/149146">Tape: 5 Gloria Burgess describes the most common problems she addresses as a consultant</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/149147">Tape: 5 Gloria Burgess talks about publishing her poetry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/149148">Tape: 5 Gloria Burgess describes her managerial style and philosophy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/149149">Tape: 5 Gloria Burgess talks about the significance of the Middle Passage to her poetry and the work of other poets</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/149150">Tape: 5 Gloria Burgess talks about the Cave Canem fellowship</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/149151">Tape: 5 Gloria Burgess considers what she might have done differently</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/149152">Tape: 5 Gloria Burgess describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/149153">Tape: 5 Gloria Burgess describes her plans for the future</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/149154">Tape: 5 Gloria Burgess considers her legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/149155">Tape: 5 Gloria Burgess talks about her family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/149156">Tape: 5 Gloria Burgess talks briefly about her mother's legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/149157">Tape: 5 Gloria Burgess describes how she would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/142658">Tape: 6 Gloria Burgess narrates her photographs</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/142659">Tape: 7 Gloria Burgess narrates her photographs</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

4$2

DATitle
Gloria Burgess remembers Gwendolyn Brooks' visit to Huron High School
Gloria Burgess talks about her consulting company, Jazz, Incorporated
Transcript
All right, so, now, any, any other mentors in high school [at Huron High School, Ann Arbor, Michigan] or, or, or influential people?$$You know, I, the ones that stand out to me are, again, in English and public speaking. I had a couple of really strong teachers in, in high school, Andrew Kerrigan [ph.] was my jun, was my English teacher my junior year. And I can't remember the, the fellow's name--oh, Mr. George [ph.], wow--from my senior year. They were both very strong teachers, very influential. But you know who stands out more than anything else? Ann Arbor would occasionally bring poets through the schools, live poets, like real live published poets, and which were for me was like a big deal. And I remember seeing Gwendolyn Brooks in one of my classes. And her visit, it was probably less than, you know, forty-five, fifty minutes, whatever the class periods were. But that visit, and her presence, and her being with our class was one of those, you know, defining moments for me, kind of like the Langston Hughes book. But she, I remember she came. She was herself--she was, she was in her head rag, you know. I mean you know 'cause you're from Chicago [Illinois]; you knew her. And she was just dressed just plain and like in her house dress. But her poems, it's, were like, they were like jewels. And her presence, she was, she was this wonderful creature who created these incredible stories through poems. And yet, you know, when you looked at her, she looked like your next door neighbor. And it was like, oh, wow, I get permission to be like her; I get permission to do that. And again, I don't think I had those specific words, that, that language at the time, but looking back on it now, that's exactly what happened. You know, it's like this person that I've only encountered in the book is a real live human being who looks, and breathes, and acts just like my neighbors, just like me, just like one of my family members. So, it was life changing, yeah.$$I think there's a certain point when you realize that you, that you are, that you are concerned about who wrote a book that you start really thinking about writing yourself--$$Yeah.$$--who the author is. A lot of people never think about that when they've--$$Yeah.$I really wanted to start my own company but not in high-tech, so I walked away and started Jazz, Incorporated.$$Okay, now what, what year is this when you start Jazz?$$This would have been 1994, yeah.$$Okay, so this is just as you're--let's see--yeah, okay, so that's a year before you finished your, your master's degree in leadership development.$$So actually I may have the date wrong then, because it was 1995 that I started my practice. It was after I--$$Okay.$$--it was after I got my degree. I'm sorry, off by a year.$$Okay, all right, so 1995.$$Yeah.$$Now why did you call it Jazz?$$'Cause I love jazz, and I love music, and I loved the metaphor of jazz in particular; because, as a consultant, you have to have kind of a point of view about your work, and my point of view is that people in organizations know what they're doing. But sometimes they lose their way (laughter), you know, because things change. The business gets bought; the business gets sold; the business, you know, is struggling; the business has, you know, an infusion of cash, and they don't know what to do with it; the products sell; the products don't sell. You know, people go crazy trying the make the numbers or you know, do whatever. And you know, having worked in business for almost twenty years by this point, you know, I knew that there were certain ways that people perform with just incredible excellence, and that happened very rarely. But my belief about people is that they want to do excellent work, and sometimes they just can't because the process isn't correct, or the, the funding isn't there, or the resources aren't there, or the people aren't trained, or the whatever, the whatever. But my fundamental belief is that people know what they're doing. They just need sometimes a little help to get there. And with jazz, my understanding of jazz is that, you know, people know what they're doing. Good jazz ensembles, every single player, you know, whether it's a three, you know, or four, or five person combo, whether it's a whole jazz orchestra, they all know what they're doing. And they each take turns being followers; they each take turns being leaders, and that's what happens in business, but they don't call it--it's, you know, it's not--they don't really conceive of it in the same way. And so I wanted to take this metaphor and see if it could work over in the business world to see if, you know, that follower/leadership dynamic could actually play out in, in the business world.$$Okay, all right. So what exactly does Jazz do now?$$Lots of different things. My focus is leadership development, so that's the core of the practice. And because I care about race, and gender, and age, my leadership work is always cross-cultural. So there's always that cross--there, there always braided together. I don't separate out cross-cultural diversity work for my leadership work. So in my practice I sometimes create leadership institutes. So I'm a consultant to organizations that need leadership training or leadership expertise in some way, shape, or form, and I create specialized programs or institutes for, for their employees. I also am an executive coach, so I work with leaders on being their best at where they are in their organization or working with them to leave a good legacy behind. So, like I said, the, the central focus is always leadership development, and it takes different forms: consulting, developing institutes, or coaching.$$Okay, all right.$$Yeah.$$So, so people hire, hire you to come in and try to make a difference in their organization by getting people on the same page and--$$On the same page.$$--and pushing 'em, you know, I guess--(simultaneous)--$$Well, I try not to push 'em (laughter).$$Okay, well, lead or--$$But to, but to--$$--inspire them.$$--to inspire them to find what is already usually within them, but somehow it's either been tamped down or you know, their roles have changed so maybe they learn, need to learn new skills or a new way of behaving in their particular position, yeah.