Dr. Vajra Watson
Vajra M. Watson is a scholar-activist, faculty director, and professor of educational leadership and racial justice in the College of Education at Sacramento State University, Sacramento. Watson has over twenty years of experience as a teacher, community organizer and researcher. She is the founder of Sacramento Area Youth Speaks (SAYS), an award-winning program that pairs community-based poet-mentor educators and teachers together to develop grassroots pedagogies that reclaim and reimagine schooling. She is the solo-author of two books, Learning to Liberate: Community-Based Solutions to the Crisis in Urban Education (2012) and Transformative Schooling: Towards Racial Equity in Education (2018), and has published dozens of peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters.
Watson serves on a number of Board of Directors, including United Playaz in San Francisco (Board President), the National Urban Education Teacher Policy Project, the National Assembly for Expanded Perspectives on Learning, Kingmakers of Oakland, and Fathers and Families of San Joaquin in Stockton, CA.
Dr. Watson is recipient of the UC Davis Early Career Award, Sacramento’s 40 Under 40 Leadership Award, the Chancellor’s Soaring to New Heights Individual Achievement Award for Diversity, the California Educational Research Association’s Annual Award, the Congressional Woman of the Year Award, the NBA Sacramento King’s Woman of the Year Award, and the American Educational Research Association’s Social Impact Award as well as AERA’s Social Justice Leadership Award.
Watson is originally from Berkeley, CA and was deeply impacted by the courses she took in the Black and Xicanx Studies Departments at Berkeley High School in the mid-1990s. In 10th grade her final exam question was: “What are you doing to stop and/or curtail the spread of white supremacy in yourself, community, and this world?” This question still shapes her path and purpose.
Dr. Watson obtained her B.A. from UC Berkeley and holds two Master’s Degrees from Harvard University in International Education and Teaching and Learning. She received her Doctorate in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy from the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University.