About Walter Stafford

Walter Stafford

A rigorous researcher; a man impassioned to strive for justice; a generous mentor and friend; and a gentle, modest, complex, and intellectual man—this was Walter W. Stafford. From academia to organizing to government to activism, and back again, Professor Stafford continuously worked in and connected these worlds, linking them to secure greater social, economic, and political equality for people of color, especially women.

This passion and commitment animated Professor Stafford's professional life. He began the struggle as an activist in the civil rights movement of the 1960s as a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In the 1970s, he pursued these issues in government as an assistant to United States Senator Richard Schweiker. He continued his crusade in the 1980s at the National Urban League and at the Community Service Society, before joining the faculty at NYU's Wagner School of Public Service.

Fusing scholarship with activism was a hallmark of Stafford's work. At NYU Wagner, he was a noted scholar and ardent advocate on race relations, gender issues, and how both related to economic development. He wrote over 100 papers in these areas and founded the Women of Color Policy Network to advocate with government and to create new generations of women of color policy advocates.

In the many organizations where he was a member, Professor Stafford advocated for people he believed were underserved, including the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the Board of Education's Task Force on Students of African Descent, and the Urban Issues Group. And in his less scholarly writing, Professor Stafford pointedly observed how racial and ethnic differences mattered in places where we might not think to look, such as how post-9/11anti-terrorism policing has effected communities of color.

Professor Stafford earned his BS at Tuskegee Institute and his PhD in Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.

As the work of his life shows, Professor Stafford was deeply committed to social justice. He saw himself not only as a researcher, but also as an activist. He understood that research is never neutral and that it commonly has policy implications. Thus, he consciously attempted to bridge the gap that exists between research, policy, and practice. Professor Stafford believed that a researcher genuinely committed to justice bears a special responsibility to do the kind of work that leads to genuine social change. It is in the spirit of continuing his synthesis of research, activism, and policymaking that this project was conceived.

Read more about Professor Stafford's approach to research.

Click here for Walter Stafford's publications.

Click here to read about Walter Stafford's Approach to Poverty Research and Analysis.

Key Dates

  • October 13-14, 2016: Symposium
  • Fall 2016: Community dialogues
  • Fall 2017: Anthology publication
  • Fall 2017: Post-publication discussions


Chelli Devadutt


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