Educator Manford Byrd, Jr. was born on May 29, 1928 in Brewton, Alabama. He studied mathematics at Iowa Central College and graduated in 1949. He then pursued graduate work, earning his M.A. from Atlanta University in 1954 and his Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 1978. Byrd began his career in education teaching in Quincy, Illinois from 1949-1954.
From 1954-1967, he worked for the Chicago Public School system as a teacher, assistant principal, elementary and high school principal and assistant to the General Superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools. In 1968, he was appointed Deputy Superintendent of Chicago Public Schools. In this role, he oversaw the day-to-day operations of the school system. He was later appointed Deputy Superintendent for Instruction and Deputy Superintendent for Pupil Services and System-Wide Reorganization. In 1985, he was appointed General Superintendent of Schools, a position he would hold until he retired in 1990. Since retiring, Byrd works in private practice, as an educational consultant.
Byrd has sat on the boards of directors of the Chicago State University Foundation, Joint Negro Appeal, the Mid-America Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Council of the Great City Schools, the Chicago NAACP and the United Church Board for World Ministries. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Central College, Pella Iowa and the Adler Planetarium, Chicago. All together, he is a member of over 70 professional organizations. Byrd has been the recipient of over 100 awards and commendations for excellence in teaching and academic administration, including honorary doctoral degrees from Central College, Hope College and the National College of Education.
Dr. Byrd and his wife, Cheribelle, have three sons.