From a Mud Hut to the Boardroom — and Back Again

By Graci Harkema

An identity that spans the globe.

In this astonishing memoir, Graci Harkema revisits her experience growing up as an adoptee from the Congo in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She traces her path to claiming and living her own story, becoming a successful consultant on diversity, equity and inclusion, racial justice, LGBTQ+ equality, and women in business.

Born amid civil unrest in a mud hut in the Congo and weighing a mere three pounds, Harkema was left at an orphanage, where she was not expected to live another day. But that afternoon, a visiting American missionary saw her sleeping in a doll’s bed and heard a voice inside her say, “This is your daughter.”

Her childhood was spent wishing to be lighter and blonder, like her siblings and classmates. Out of fear of standing out even more from her peers, Harkema kept her sexuality a secret, only coming out of the closet years later—during a job interview! Eventually, she learned to see her identity as her superpower, instead of her shame.

Today, Harkema helps embrace diversity and drive inclusion to ensure open and safe work environments. She is committed to empowering employees to perform to their potential as their authentic selves—setting an example as she continues to live her own story, journeying to meet her birth mother, to discover one more piece of herself.

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