top of page


Ellen Griffin, Ed.D.


Ed.D. – University of Southern California
B.A. – Kansas State University

I am Dr. Ellen Griffin, and I was born in Kansas, in a college town called Manhattan. I am the eldest of 9 children. Education was very important in my family, and I was constantly reminded of the benefits of sharing what information I learned to my 4 sisters and 5 brothers. During my early childhood, my classroom experiences with my dedicated teachers were always positive and I excelled easily, was a high achiever and was often on the Honor Roll. I excelled academically and I was also an accomplished violinist, participating at the orchestra level in Junior and Senior High. I won the challenge for 1st chair violinist of the orchestra and was the first African American student to achieve that orchestra distinguishment. It wasn’t hard because with the small class size, my teachers exceptionally perceptive about all of the students capabilities. Even though discrimination existed, African American students were accepted and were included. When I entered Kansas State College, my experiences were somewhat different. I faced academic discrimination by an instructor; however, she was a reminder to not let any force or barrier, or aggression change my course of action – and that was to graduate.

I graduated from Kansas State College (now Kansas State University) with a major in Home Economics. My first professional position was as the 7th – 9th grad Foods Teacher at Sumner Jr. High in Kansas City, Kansas. During that 2-year experience, I assisted the Home Economics Director in developing a new foods curriculum. After moving to California, I married W. J. Griffin and together we had 3 daughters: Cynthia, Ramona and Teresa Griffin.

For years I was a social worker for the L.A. County Bureau of Public Assistance. I continued my professional career by being a Reading Specialist for LAUSD Non Public School Reading Program, a classroom instructor, a Reading-Bilingual Coordinator for LAUSD and finally as an Adjunct Reading Professor for Citrus Community College and El Camino College. For some reason I feel I was self-motivated to achieve many things. Fortunately, I had exposure to various events and what happened afterward was up to me.

A doctoral program was presented to principals in LAUSD. My principal decided she wanted to participate and she wanted her co-coordinators to do the same. I had always desired to get a doctoral degree, but something always seemed to get in the way. Discussing with my husband, he said go for it. Tenuously, I did. We all were accepted into the program. We took the first two courses and my principal, and the coordinators dropped out. Other principals dropped out for various reasons. Not me! I hung in! I took one semester off but finished in 1991. I had no help except from my chairpersons (one very helpful, one not so helpful).

Fast forward many moons later and we are at the African American Marketplace, a Labor Day weekend cultural celebration of creative African-inspired products and services, music, information gathering and sharing in a friendly, family oriented space. My daughter Cynthia wrote for the weekly newspaper for the MarketPlace. Part of her compensation was a vendor’s booth. She and I attempted to be entrepreneurs. She promoted her magazine, “Black Spots” and I was selling buttons with various quotes like “Good worker”, “You’re looking at a Winner” or buttons that could be self-created, learning games and handmade quilts. I also marketed my tutoring program. This activity resulted in a meeting of serendipity.

A lady stopped by our booth to observe the pre-made buttons. She felt the buttons could be great incentives for her class of gifted students. As we chatted, I indicated that I was an educator like she and that I had recently completed my doctoral degree. Hearing this she told me about APADS and her need for mentors. She invited me to the APADS upcoming meeting. I attended the meeting and I liked what the organization was attempting to do. I became involved and have been up to this day. Oh! The lady’s name was Dr. Nelle Becker-Slaton, one of the founders of APADS. I’ve always been one to help others achieve their goals. So an association with APADS seemed perfect for me. From my experience, someone once said, “Give Back” once you succeed. If I can help someone or if I am asked, I will assist.

bottom of page