Love Maine Radio #339: Debby Irving and Donna Dwyer

Today we speak with racial justice advocate Debby Irving, who recently published her first book, Waking Up White, about her journey toward unpacking her white identity and creating effective social change. We also speak with Donna Dwyer, CEO of My Place Teen Center in Westbrook.


Debby Irving

Debby Irving is a racial justice educator, author, and public speaker.  A community organizer and classroom teacher for 25 years, Debby Irving grappled with racial injustice without understanding racism as a systemic issue or her own whiteness as an obstacle to it. As general manager of Boston’s Dance Umbrella and First Night, and later as an elementary school teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she struggled to make sense of racial tensions she could feel but could not explain. In 2009, Debby took a graduate school course, Racial and Cultural Identities, which gave her the answers she’d been looking for and launched her on a journey of discovery. Now, speaking and leading workshops around the country, Debby devotes herself to exploring the impact white skin can have on perception, problem solving, and creating culturally inclusive communities. A graduate of the Winsor School in Boston, she holds a BA from Kenyon College and an MBA from Simmons College. Her first book, Waking Up White, tells the story of how she went from well-meaning to well-doing.

Donna Dwyer

With 16 years of not-for-profit and for-profit executive leadership experience, Donna Dwyer has a history of managing budgets, providing superior customer service, working on short and long term strategic initiatives, and business plan/grant writing. As the CEO of My Place Teen Center, she has cross-functional expertise in marketing, networking, problem-solving, and presenting to a wide variety of audiences. She is passionate about Maine—its people, geography, and lifestyle.