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Janis Kearney, Presidential Diarist & Edmond Davis, Author and Historian

Lance Turner of Arkansas Business

Listen to Learn:

  • Why Janis didn't think she would like Washington D.C.?
  • What is Janis's favorite White House memory?
  • How Edmond went from being homeless to a History Professor
  • The history of the Tuskegee Airmen

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Born in Gould, Arkansas, Janis Kearney was one of eighteen children of parents Ethel V. Kearney and James Kearney. After graduating from Gould High School in 1971, Kearney attended the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, earning a B.A. in journalism in 1976. She continued on with her education while working, earning thirty hours towards a M.P.A. from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

After earning her B.A. degree, Kearney was hired by the State of Arkansas in 1978, where she spent three years as a program manager for the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act program, and another six years as the director of information for the national headquarters of the Migrant Student Records Transfer System. Leaving government work, Kearney purchased the Arkansas State Press newspaper from Daisey Bates in 1987. She published the weekly paper for five years before joining the Clinton-Gore presidential campaign in 1992, where she served as director of minority media outreach. The following year, Kearney joined President Bill Clinton’s transition team. She began with the White House Media Affairs Office before being appointed as the director of public affairs and communications for the U.S. Small Business Administration, where she worked until 1995. That year, Kearney became the first presidential diarist in U.S. history, chronicling President Clinton’s day-to-day life. She remained in this capacity until President Clinton left office. Kearney came under scrutiny during the Starr Committee proceedings when her diary and testimony were subpoenaed. No wrongdoing was found.

Edmond Davis is currently a history professor at Arkansas Baptist College and was educated at Louisiana Tech University and Grambling State University. His work in education includes facilitator and program coordinator for a pilot program at Covenant Keepers Charter School called RESPOND-I-BILITY targeting 6th-8th grade students to help them understand how to respond to law enforcement in the 21st century.

Davis has also taught history at the University of Phoenix (Little Rock main campus) and at Pulaski Technical College as well as worked with various other mentoring and workshop programs for students from grade 6 through college aimed at helping students excel in the classroom and beyond.

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