William Watson, Ed.D.
Executive Director, Strategic Partnerships & Workforce Innovation San José Evergreen Community College District
Dr. William Watson is an equity-minded higher education leader committed to economic mobility and critical democratic participation. His efforts to mitigate economic disparities have been recognized, along with others, with the Annie E. Casey Foundation College Innovator Award, and the California Community Colleges Board of Governors' John W. Rice Diversity and Equity Award. Dr. Watson is one of 39 of the nation’s promising education leaders to comprise the inaugural class of Aspen Institute Presidential Fellows for Community College Excellence.
Dr. Watson earned an Associate in Arts degree which he credits as a gateway to lifetime opportunity. After starting his Baccalaureate degree with a piano performance scholarship, he earned Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in Philosophy & Comparative Religion, and Anthropology, which included field studies in Peru and Mali. After earning a Master of Science degree in Counseling Psychology, Dr. Watson worked as a psychotherapist treating patients with substance use disorders. After gaining experience working in higher education, Dr. Watson completed a dissertation, (Latino Educational Attainment in a California Community College: The Impact of Social Capital) at San Francisco State University to earn a Doctor of Education degree in Higher Educational Leadership with an emphasis in social justice and equity.
With a family legacy of civil rights activism in Mississippi, Dr. Watson's professional identity is intertwined with a sense of purpose and responsibility that one's personal liberation is tied to advocacy for others to ensure economic mobility and critical participation in democracy. Since 1999, he has held leadership positions in multiple Bay Area Colleges. At Skyline College, he was the founding Director of the Center for Workforce Development and SparkPoint at Skyline College, the first economic self- sufficiency program in the California Community Colleges to implement the Annie E. Casey Foundation model, Centers for Working Families. Before leaving Skyline College, Dr. Watson received the college- wide employee of the year award, Skyline Shines Award. He then served College of Alameda as the interim Vice President of Student Services.
Now reporting to the Chancellor of the San José Evergreen Community College District as the Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships and Workforce Innovation, Dr. Watson is a founder of the new Community College Center for Economic Mobility (CCCEM). The Center serves and leverages the South Bay Consortium for Adult Education, Silicon Valley Career Pathways Project including the national STEM Core Network, SparkPoint San José, and Customized Training on Demand. CCCEM will advance collaborative impact, support professional development and capacity building, catalyze the intersection of higher education research and practice for social justice, and support economic competitiveness rooted in socially just and sustainable solutions that actualize the enormous value of our community colleges to make real the promise of higher education for a better life in the United States.
Dr. Watson’s paper, Inequality in Silicon Valley: Community Colleges in the Economic Mobility Ecosystem (2020), is available by clicking here
Dr. Watson’s paper, Collaborative Impact and Professional Development: Effective Student Services for Immigrant Populations Amid Growing Inequality, written with co-authors Esquivel-Swinson and Monemayor, was recently published in the Community College Journal of Research and Practice (Nov, 2018).