GladysE. Kidd, educator, nutritionist, mentor, philanthropist, and granddaughter ofslaves was born on October 11, 1925 in Columbus,Ohio to Henry Wesley Cooper, aPresbyterian minister and Charlotte Melinda Cooper, a schoolteacher. She attended the all black elementary andmiddle schools. While in high school, she developed an interest in hospital dietetics. In 1945 Kidd earned her BS from Ohio StateUniversity in Dietetics.The following year she continued her studies, enrolling in a graduate programin foods and nutrition at Washington State College (now Washington StateUniversity, WSU). Her graduate research focused on the impact theprototype microwave oven had on the nutritional content of frozen peaches. In 1948 Kidd became the first AfricanAmerican woman and person of color to earn a masters degree from WSU.
Following graduateschool, Kidd devoted her career and research to improving health throughnutrition and safe food. In 1954 she received a Fulbright Fellowship to Queen ElizabethCollege at the University of London. During the 1950s and 1960s she held variouspositions in her field. Kidd taught at Syracuse University,North Carolina College (now North Carolina CentralUniversity), and chaired from1955-1961 the Home Economics Department at SpelmanCollege in Atlanta. While in academia, she also authored several essays on nutrition. She was married to James Kidd from l961-l963and worked as a registered dietitian at GrantHospital in her hometown of Columbus.
In 1966 Kidd returnedto WSU as an associate professor of foods and nutrition -in the Department ofFoods and Nutrition, and Institute Management. In this position, she conducted research onimproving the dietary habits of Africans and African Americans. In the late 1960s Kidd served on a campuscommittee that developed WSUs first Black Studies courses. She also created and taught Black CommunityHealth and Nutrition, a Black Studies course. At the age of 43 and single, she adopted Lavern and in 1973 marriedClifford Jennings, a media services technician