Brenda is a Professor, and the Nickoll Family Endowed Chair Holder, in the Department of History and Professor of African American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a published author and internationally recognized scholar of race, slavery, gender, family and racial conflict with specific interests that focus on the comparative, historical, experiences of women, family and community across racial and ethnic lines.
Brenda’s research has garnered numerous prizes including the James A. Rawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians for the best book in race relations, the Ida B. Wells Barnett Award for Bravery in Journalism, and the Gustavus Meyer Outstanding Book Prize for Life in Black and White. Her research has been supported by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the American Association of University Women, the Center for Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center and the American Academy in Berlin.
Brenda earned a Ph.D. in history from Yale University and her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia. Currently, she sits as the Hillary Rodham Clinton Chair of Women's History at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. Brenda and her husband, James, have remained active members in the Marymount community since their daughter’s graduation from the school in 2013.