As a native of Richmond, Virginia, I attended Virginia Union University and graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. degree in chemistry. Afterward, I did graduate study at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and later at American University in Washington, D.C., where I worked as a chemist in the Radiocarbon Laboratory of the U.S. Geological Survey. While in the nation?s capitol, I met a fellow chemist who encouraged me to join the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) where he was employed as a patent examiner, hired during the initial period of equal employment opportunity. This change in professional employment transferred me from the laboratory to a desk job that required scientific and specialized legal writing.
Given patent examining, technical, and legal training to pass upon the merits of chemical and mechanical inventions, I examined patent applications concerning organic chemistry, bleaching and dyeing of textiles, then stock materials, laminates, and miscellaneous articles. Through this endeavor and participation in the Patent and Trademark Office Society and in the Patent Office Toastmasters Club, I acquired many skills such as technical writing, recruiting, scientific judging, and public speaking, to name a few.
As I advanced to the position of primary examiner, I took part in extracurricular activities, such as writing articles on diverse inventors--a project that began when I discovered information on African-American inventors and on famous inventors with patents. Exposed to specific patent information, a budding interest became full-blown, deepening my awareness of their presence and inspiring me to highlight their lives. Therefore, my interest in inventors was a natural outgrowth of my unique status as a patent examiner. From this undertaking, I published numerous articles in national and local newspapers, magazines, journals, brochures, and bulletins, and wrote a book entitled Creativity and Inventions: The Genius of Afro-Americans and Women in the United States and their Patents, 1987.
Additionally, I appeared on radio and television programs, once as the spokesperson for the PTO on CNN. The National Society of Black Engineers sought my services as a contributing editor of their journal for several years.
Concurrently, I pursued an interest in family and local history that culminated in certification as a Certified Genealogist. After tracing many family lines, I published several genealogies in the Maryland Genealogical Society Bulletin and in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, respectively. I am an intellectual property owner of over 15 copyrights.
On many occasions I presented professional papers on such topics as African-American inventors and women inventors in addition to historic individuals, aviators, and local historical environs. The patent office believes in outreach programs, encouraging partnership with the surrounding community and allowing patent examiners to attend professional association meetings and to lecture and/or make presentations. Moreover, I traveled extensively to recruit patent examiners, visit industrial sites associated with my specific field of examining, and teach procedures for filing certain patent applications.
During my lengthy, fruitful career many achievements were made, and numerous awards and honors were presented. In particular, I was a Department of Commerce Science and Technology Fellow, serving as a member of the subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs and as a special director in the Office of Cultural Resources of the National Park Service. As technical advisor for the PTO film From Dreams to Reality: A Tribute to Minority Inventors, I was privileged to work with the narrator, esteemed actor Ossie Davis. In 1984, I received the Employee of the Year award from the Department of Commerce, and the Patent and Trademark Office Commissioner?s EEO award for 1993. In 1996, prior to retirement a few years later, I received a bronze medal for superior federal service.
At present, I am a registered patent agent, president of the National Intellectual Property Law Association, and I continue work as a certified genealogist and freelance writer. A fuller and complete study of African-American inventors from the earliest known to the present is a work in progress. My time also is divided among civic, church, and historical enterprises.
As a wife and mother of two daughters, I juggled my time to devote energy to my family. The oldest is a computer scientist and the youngest is a medical doctor. I am truly proud.
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