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The Power and Importance of a Father

Summary: 
From her mother, Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner learned that she was valued, loved, and could be anything she wanted to be even though they were very poor. Her incredible mother became everything important to her world except the one thing she could never be: the father she never had.

The White House Office of Public Engagement and Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships honors 10 individuals who are doing tremendous work in the fields of fatherhood and low-income men and boys. Because of her work in this field Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner is being recognized as a Champion of Change.


I grew up with a wonderful, God-fearing mother, who was role-model, first teacher, and arch of safety for me and my seven siblings. From her, I learned that I was valued, loved, and could be anything I wanted to be even though we were very poor. My incredible mother became everything important to my world except the one thing she could never be, the father I never had.

The lack of a father left me and my sibling without the sense of protection from mean streets; an understanding and appreciation for authority; and the kind of priceless security that a good, caring father brings to children.

Tragically, with Fathers’ Day approaching, nearly 30% of white children, 72% of African American children and 40% of Hispanic children grow up without a father present. Many ordinary and well-known Americans grow up to accomplish much without fathers; and every single-parent mother deserves endless thanks for their contribution. Yet, the grim realities of the connection between fatherlessness and teen pregnancy, school dropout rates, youth violence, crime and other self-destructive behaviors are undeniable.

Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner is the President of Skinner Leadership Institute.