, 30:208–210, 2008
Copyright © The Roeper Institute
ISSN: 0278-3193 print / 1940-865X online
AN EVOLVING FIELD
Champion of Cultural Competence: An Interview
with Donna Y. Ford
Interview With Don a Ford
Suzanna E. Henshon
Donna Y. Ford, PhD, is Professor of
Education and Human Development at
Vanderbilt University where she
teaches in the Department of Special
Education. Donna has been a Professor
of Special Education at the Ohio State
University, an Associate Professor of
Educational Psychology at the Univer-
sity of Virginia, and a researcher with the National Research
Center on the Gifted and Talented. She also taught at the
University of Kentucky.
Donna earned her doctorate in urban education (educa-
tional psychology, 1991), master’s of education degree
(counseling, 1988), and bachelor of arts degree in communi-
cations and Spanish (1984) from Cleveland State University.
She is the author of several books, including
Underachievement Among Gifted Black Students
cultural Gifted Education
. She has authored over 100 articles
and chapters and has made more than 500 presentations at
professional conferences and school districts.
Dr. Ford conducts research primarly in gifted education
and multicultural/urban education. She also consults with
school districts and educational organizations in the areas of
gifted education and multicultural/urban education.
Dr. Ford is a board member of the National Association of
Gifted Children and has served on numerous editorial boards,
Gifted Child Quarterly
, and the
Journal of Negro Education
Was there anything about your early life experi-
ences that led you to the field of gifted education?
Ford: Two experiences are at the forefront of my mind when
I think about why I entered the field. I was identified as gifted
early in my school years, so I have been very interested in
gifted education because of this. However, the experience of
my son, Khyle, contributed and contributes most to my inter-
est and passion. He was identified as gifted early, too, but did
not have a good experience with one teacher. As a result, he
became an underachiever early on; he lost an interest in school
and learning. I spent years trying to turn this around for him.
Years later, I wrote my first book on gifted underachievers and
dedicated it to him. I was determined (and still am) to decrease
school disengagement among gifted diverse students, espe-
cially males, by working with teachers and other educators on
the importance of becoming culturally competent.
How does your expertise in special education
impact your work in gifted education?
Ford: In special education, the focus is often on overrepre-
sentation. The opposite focus is in gifted education where
we are concerned about underrepresentation. Both fields
grapple with equity issues, including teacher/educator bias,
test bias, problems in policies and procedures, and so much
more. I truly believe that too many diverse students, espe-