Rising by Graci Harkema front cover


From a Mud Hut to the Boardroom—and Back Again

Graci Harkema

An identity that spans the globe.

In this astonishing memoir, Graci Harkema revisits her experience growing up as an adoptee from the Congo in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She traces her path to claiming and living her own story, becoming a successful consultant on diversity, equity, and inclusion, racial justice, LGBTQ+ equality, and women in business.

Born amid civil unrest in a mud hut in the Congo and weighing a mere three pounds, Harkema was left at an orphanage, where she was not expected to live another day. But that afternoon, a visiting American missionary saw her sleeping in a doll’s bed and heard a voice inside her say, This is your daughter.

Her childhood was spent wishing to be lighter and blonder, like her siblings and classmates. Out of fear of standing out even more from her peers, Harkema kept her sexuality a secret, only coming out of the closet years later—during a job interview! Eventually, she learned to see her identity as her superpower, instead of her shame.

Today, Harkema helps embrace diversity and drive inclusion to ensure open and safe work environments. She is committed to empowering employees to perform to their potential as their authentic selves—setting an example as she continues to live her own story, journeying to meet her birth mother to discover one more piece of herself.


“A riveting and heart-wrenching memoir. Graci Harkema brilliantly and generously shows us how to unapologetically and fiercely be our true selves.”

“Graci Harkema truly embodies what it means not only to awaken but to ‘rise.’ In this incredible book, she utilizes all the deep wisdom culled from her journey to true authenticity to spread her urgent message of inclusion.”

“Graci Harkema provides deep insights into her miraculous life. This book serves as a reminder that liberation can come from living in our truths.”


“Part memoir, part self-help, and part DEI training, Rising holds up a mirror and asks us to see our own truth as Graci Harkema reveals hers.”

“An incredible journey. Truly a story of love, success, and perseverance.”

Rising requires more than one read. The first time, you’ll read with your mouth open. The second time, you’ll open your mind.”


GRACI HARKEMA is the owner of Graci LLC, an international consultancy providing training and speaking on diversity, inclusive leadership, and implicit bias for various organizations and industries throughout the globe. The Grand Rapids Business Journal has named her a 40 Under 40 Business Leader, a 50 Most Influential Woman, and one of the 200 Most Powerful Business Leaders of West Michigan. Harkema resides in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her dog, Teddy Roosevelt. Visit her at graciharkema.com or @thegraciharkema on Instagram.

ISBN 978-1-77458-251-0
$32.00 CAD $26.95 USD
Published April 18, 2023
5.5 × 8.5 216 Pages
hardcover, ebook, audiobook