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As a member of a biracial family, my lifelong passion has been writing about "race," exploring how the concept ever came to exist until it's so prevalent it now feels normal. I'm passionate about issues of identity and working for justice, i.e. the whole race-related package. All my books focus in one way or another on this immensely charged topic.


Black, White, Other was my first novel, and I loved approaching the issue from the lens of a fifteen-year-old girl, whose voice came to me quite naturally, probably from raising my own children and being close to other teens. Having permission to create scenes, instead of attempting journalistic accuracy, allowed me a fantastic freedom to explore the intricacies of family or friend dynamics among people of different "races."


My second novel, Mama's Child (Atria/Simon & Schuster, May, 2013), is another variation on the theme I seem to have chosen as my life beat. Or perhaps it has chosen me. This story, which spans 30 years, uses two voices: a white mother and her biracial daughter.


A third novel in progress, Langston Hughes and the One True Me, will be published in 2014 by the exciting new West Coast publishing house, Creston Books.


I feel privileged and honored to be able to practice my craft and at the same time provide healing and insight to readers, as well as entertainment.


Readers, stay in touch! Thank you.


Joan Steinau Lester, Ed.D. the award-winning commentator, columnist, and author of four critically praised books, is also a freelance editor.

A Bellwether Prize Finalist, Arts & Letters Creative Nonfiction Finalist, and NLGJA Seigenthaler Award winner, her writing has appeared in the Alaska Quarterly Review, Essence, USA Today, LA Times, SF Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Cosmopolitan, NY Times Syndicate: New American Voices, Huffington Post, Black Issues in Education, and Common Dreams. Her commentaries regularly air on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” San Francisco's KQED "Perspectives," and Public Radio International’s “Marketplace."

She is the author of the acclaimed biography ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON: FIRE IN MY SOUL, as well as THE FUTURE OF WHITE MEN And Other Diversity Dilemmas and TAKING CHARGE: Every Woman's Action Guide.

BLACK, WHITE, OTHER: The Search for Nina Armstrong, her first novel, garnered starred reviews and her second, MAMA'S CHILD, has just been released to critical acclaim.

After receiving her doctorate in multicultural education, Dr. Lester was Executive Director of the Equity Institute for sixteen years. This national nonprofit firm, first based in Amherst and then Emeryville, California, pioneered the diversity wave of the '80s and '90s. She continues as a member of its successor, the Equity Consulting Group.

Lester’s books have earned praise from print media like Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus Review, Ms, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Detroit Free Press, The San Francisco Chronicle, Executive Female, American Personnel Journal, Belles Lettres, Black Issues Book Review, and the American Society of Trainers and Developers. Her books are in wide use as college texts and corporate handbooks.

Her numerous recognitions include the NLGJA Siegenthaler Award for commentary on National Public Radio. The San Francisco’s Women’s Heritage Museum nominated TAKING CHARGE as a Best Women’s Book; named TAKING CHARGE one of its “10 BEST BUSINESS BOOKS FOR WOMEN” and The Washington Post singled out FIRE IN MY SOUL for its top-listed, recommended books, "What Washingtonians are reading."

Dr. Lester is quoted as an expert by print media from The New York Times to Woman’s World. Her published work has been excerpted in publications as varied as Essence, Executive Female, legal journals, and books on diversity. She has been a guest expert on Donahue, CNN, Caryl & Marilyn Show, G. Gordon Liddy, and SkyRadio, as well as hundreds of other radio and television programs. FIRE IN MY SOUL was featured on Terry Gross' top-rated "Fresh Air" Program.

A member of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Dr. Lester lives in Northern California and enjoys the full-time writing life she long envisioned.


“Terrific writer!” Former Texas Governor Ann Richards for The Future of White Men and other Diversity Dilemmas

“Lucid…poignant.” Ms. for Taking Charge

“This refreshing book captures what most miss—insightful lessons from personal encounters with diversity. Lester is a talented storyteller who shares her learning in an unpretentious way.” Ann Morrison, author of The New Leaders for The Future of White Men

“Should be part of every school and business’ reading list.” Booklist for Taking Charge

“A well-framed memoir, satisfyingly candid while also abrim with political theory; a filigreed work that map’s Norton’s evolution as an advocate for human rights.” Kirkus Review for Fire in My Soul

"Lester's thorough portrait is a compelling and inspiring homage to a legacy still in progress." Publisher's Weekly for Fire in My Soul

"Norton's is a truly fascinating story, and I am delighted that Joan Lester has chosen to tell it in such an engaging way." Henry Louis Gates, Jr. for Fire in My Soul.