Founder, Thurgood Marshall College Fund
New York, NY
Norma Joyce Payne grew up in a progressive household during the turbulence of the Civil Rights Era.
Her parents, Eunice and the late Jesse Tyson, encouraged their five daughters to invest wisely in their own financial security and education. “Women were not viewed as victims,” Payne says.
The lessons Payne learned from the forward-thinkers of her small, Washington, D.C., community, were rich deposits in her life.
She graduated from District of Columbia Teachers College with a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology and from Atlanta University with a master’s and a doctorate in higher education. Payne never strayed far from the lessons of her father.
She became an authority on women’s issues in relation to higher education and labor. Between 1977 and 1980, she was tapped by the Carter administration to serve as a senior member of various advisory committees. “It is my passion to see how policy can make a difference. It’s unfortunate that there are ideals we so readily talk about but too often fail to practice,” she says.
Payne currently is the executive director of the National Alliance for Public Trust, a new organization formed to promote trust in American communities and civic organizations.
She came on board in 2007, upon her retirement as vice president from the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges.
She is the founder of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which assists exceptional students at public Black colleges and universities.
“I would certainly take advantage of opportunities to improve the lives of our children and all of humanity,” she says. “Activism is in my DNA.”