23rd Annual Mary Frances Early Lecture
Tuesday, February 7, 2023 at 2:00 PM
The Georgia Center for Continuing Education, Mahler Hall
Reception to follow. This event is free and open to the public.
To honor Ms. Early, Ms. Monica Kaufman Pearson will deliver the 2023 lecture. Monica is the first woman and first minority to anchor the daily evening news in Atlanta, Georgia, where she worked for 37 years at the leading station, WSB-TV. When she retired in 2012, she was honored on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives by the bipartisan delegation of the State of Georgia for her years of service on and off the air to improve the lives of the citizens of Georgia.
Monica Kaufman Pearson chats with WUGA’s Alexia Ridley about this year’s event, Feb. 1, 2023 – listen here.
Read more about the Mary Frances Early Speaker Series
“Monica Pearson celebrates those who make headlines: Trailblazing journalist shares stories at annual Mary Frances Early Lecture” – UGA Today
About the Speaker
Monica Kaufman Pearson is the first woman and first minority to anchor the daily evening news in Atlanta, Georgia, where she worked for 37 years at the leading station, WSB-TV. She now hosts and produces Monica Pearson One on One, a monthly personality interview program for Gray Media Group. The hour-long program is shown on Peachtree TV/ WPCH-TV in Atlanta. She has won over 33 Southern Regional and local Emmy Awards for reporting, anchoring and her Closeups celebrity interview show. When she retired, she was honored on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives by the bipartisan delegation of the State of Georgia for her years of service on and off the air to improve the lives of the citizens of Georgia.
Since retiring in 2012, she’s stayed busy. At the age of 67, she graduated with a master’s degree, Magna Cum Laude from the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2014. She wrote a column, Monica Matters, for the quarterly magazine, Southern Seasons and taught at Atlanta Metropolitan State College. She is a much sought-after emcee and motivational speaker and for five years, she freelanced at KISS 104.1 FM, hosting This Week in Black History on their website. For five years she hosted a Sunday public affairs show on KISS 104.1. She also is one of three hosts of the Emmy nominated Georgia Public Broadcasting show, A Seat at the Table, GPB.org/ASATT. Recently she has become a radio and television spokesperson for businesses and institutions and a voice over actor. She is a member of SAG and AFTRA.
Monica is a native of Louisville, KY, growing up in the Smoketown neighborhood. She is a graduate of the University of Louisville. She participated in the Summer Program for Minority Groups at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1969. She was a reporter for the Louisville Times newspaper and a reporter and weekend anchor for WHAS TV in Louisville. She was the first African-American female anchor in Louisville. For two years, she worked in public relations at Brown-Forman Distillers.
Monica was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame, the University of Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, the Georgia Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, the Atlanta Press Club Hall of Fame and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. In 2016, she was inducted into Georgia Trend’s Most Influential Hall of Fame. In 2019, she was inducted into the Trumpet Foundation International Civil Rights Walk of Fame, located outside the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta and was named the 2019 Woman of Purpose by Women United of the Greater Atlanta United Way. The Jeanette Rankin Foundation named her their Shining Star for 2019. In 2021, she was inducted into the National Black Radio Hall of Fame.
She is a Lifetime Trustee of Meals on Wheels Atlanta. In May of 2015, she chaired the Go Red for Women Luncheon of the America Heart Association and has served on the Executive Leadership Council and on the American Heart Association National Communications and Marketing Committee. She is also the first non-medical person to serve on the board of Americas-Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association Foundation, (AHPBAF.)
Monica was the first African-American and second woman to serve as Chairperson of the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta. She also was the first woman to serve as President of the Atlanta Tipoff Club, which first presented the Naismith Awards to outstanding basketball players on the high school and collegiate level, locally and nationally. From 2005-2021, she served on the Board of Jurors for the prestigious George Foster Peabody Awards at the University of Georgia and chairs the Board of Jurors in 2022, the first African American woman to hold that position. She is a 2016 University of Georgia Grady Fellow. The Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication awarded Monica the John Holliman Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020. Monica also has received an alumni Fellows award from The University of Louisville. She is a recipient of the 2018 University of Georgia Graduate School Alumni of Distinction Award. Omicron Delta Kappa, The National Leadership Honor Society, presented her its 2018 Pillar of Leadership Award, Celebrating Excellence in Communications.
Monica has been a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the nation’s first Black sorority for women since 1966 and is a member of the Kappa Omega Chapter in Atlanta, the oldest chapter in the state of Georgia. The sorority awarded her the Presidential Vanguard Award in 2016. In 2018, the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA presented Monica with the Pat Summitt Inspiring Woman Award.
Monica is a member of The Junior League of Atlanta. She is a breast cancer and liver cancer survivor.
Monica has received honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters from Atlanta University, now named Clark Atlanta University; Oglethorpe University; American Bible University and a Doctor of Public Service from Young Harris College.
She is married to John E. Pearson, Sr., is the mother of Claire Patrice Deveaux and stepmother of John E. Pearson II.