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Janis F. Kearney, book publisher and author; former publisher of the Arkansas State Press Newspaper, and former Personal Diarist to President William J. Clinton, is one of 19 children born to Arkansas Delta Sharecroppers, and cotton farmers. She graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville with a B.A. in Journalism, and 30 graduate level hours toward degrees in Public Administration, and Journalism.
In 2003, Kearney founded Writing our World Press, a micropublishing company. The Company’s current slate of books include: the award-winning Cotton Field of Dreams: A Memoir; Quiet Guys Do Great Things, Too – as told by Frank Ross; and Conversations: William Jefferson Clinton…from Hope to Harlem, an oral biography centered around the Clinton presidency and political legacy; Once Upon a Time there was a Girl: a Murder at Mobile Bay; Kearney’s first fiction, and Something to Write Home About: Memories from a Presidential Diarist, her second memoir, nominated for the Small Independent Booksellers Award (SIBA) for 2009. In 2009, WOW Press published Black Classical Musicians in Philadelphia, by Elaine Mack. In 2013, WOW! Press debuted Kearney’s sixth book, Daisy: Between a Rock and a Hard Place, a biographical memoir chronicling the life of civil rights leader Daisy Lee Bates.
Kearney completed a two-year W.E.B. Du Bois Fellowship at Harvard University’s Center for African and African American Studies, in 2003, and was also appointed that year, as Chancellor’s Lecturer at Chicago City Colleges, which included lecturing at Chicago’s seven city colleges. In 2004, she began a two-year Humanities Fellowship at Chicago’s DePaul University Center for the Humanities. She was appointed, in 2007, to one-year Visiting Humanities and Political Science Professorship at Arkansas State University (ASU), teaching Memoir Writing, Writing Arkansas Culture, The Clinton Presidency, and the American Presidency: Inside the White House.
Kearney served as Personal Diarist to President William Jefferson Clinton from 1995-2001. She was the country’s first personal diarist to a U.S. President, serving as the White House liaison to the U.S. National Archive’s presidential records office. In her role as diarist, she attended numerous levels of meetings throughout the day led by the President, as well as official events at the white house. She also participated in White House management meetings, and worked closely with the White House Information and Records Management office – an extension of the National Archives - to help collect and maintain Presidential records for future presidential library. She served as personal diarist during the six-month Presidential Transition Office, January - June 2001.
Kearney was appointed by President Clinton, in 1993, as Director of Public Communications, for the Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration, serving for two and one-half years. As Public Affairs Manager, she was responsible for the agency’s national media coordination, including new product rollouts, briefing and preparing SBA Administrator for all media interviews, coordinating press conferences, and all other media events. She also supervised, trained and evaluated all regional information directors.
She took the role of Managing Editor of the Arkansas State Press Newspaper, founded by Arkansas civil rights legends, Daisy and L.C. Bates in 1987. She became Publisher and Owner of the Arkansas State Press in 1988 with overall responsibility for the operation of the company, which included hiring and supervision of all full time and part-time staff, development and building creating new image for the newspaper, and expanding into new market niches. In 1991, Kearney was elected by publisher colleagues to the board of directors for the National Newspaper Publishers Association; as well as the outreach committee for the Arkansas Press Association.
Currently, she serves on a number of volunteer boards and committees, including Director of the Arkansas Writers Conference; and President of Arkansas’ Pioneer Chapter of the National League of Pen Women. Awards and Recognitions include: Arkansas’ Small Business Administration’s Minority Business Award, 1992; the PUSH for Excellence Award for outstanding communications; induction into the History Makers Archives of Outstanding African American leaders; University of Arkansas Outstanding Alumni Award, and the University of Arkansas’ distinguished Journalism Lemke Award; and a Special Recognition Award from the National Association of Black Journalists.