North Hennepin Community College welcomed Dr. “Eda” Rassheedah Watts on January 8, 2020 as the Associate Vice President of Equity & Inclusion. A San Francisco native, Watts brings nearly 20 years of professional experience to NHCC, including in the health and marketing fields, and most recently 11 years in higher education. Her passion for higher education stems from being a first-generation college student who fought against the statistical odds of growing up in an underserved community. The barriers she overcame as a full-time working student created a deep-seeded passion in her to help others achieve their higher education goals which served as the inspiration to work in education. Watts is also a certified diversity trainer, certified adult education program planner, and holds a number of professional certificates including Inclusive Teaching from Harvard University. Most recently, she served as a senior diversity officer and adjunct faculty member at Blackburn College in Illinois where she designed and taught the college’s first Social Justice Leadership course.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Learning to become self-reflective on how socialization and internalized oppression impacts the subconscious, particularly as someone of various marginalized identities, and the ensuing shift in mindset has been a transformational accomplishment for me as it has positively influenced all facets of my life, including how I approach the design of equity and inclusion based initiatives. A few tangible accomplishments include being a mother to a vibrant eight-year-old boy, my recent doctoral conferment, and influencing board members of my former institution to attend anti-racism trainings.
What excites you about joining NHCC and becoming a member of the Brooklyn Park community?
I knew NHCC was the right place for me when I learned that our priorities were in alignment as concerns the equitable success of both the students and NHCC community-at-large. My institutional litmus test was to see members within various levels of the organization committed to driving the work of equity, diversity and inclusion forward, so I am most excited by the passion and support I saw among all NHCC constituencies as everyone is a critical piece to this important institutional mission. I am looking forward to what we can accomplish together! I’m also really looking forward to getting to know the community members, all of whom contribute to the diverse and cultural enrichment of the city. I’m particularly energized by the work being done by the Human Rights Commission, as well as the City’s Brooklyn Park 2025 plan. So as time allows, since equity and social justice are my heart’s passion, I’m hoping to involve myself in community volunteer work or find collaborative opportunities that drive and support this valuable work for Brooklyn Park members.
What goals or priorities do you hope to accomplish in your time at NHCC?
Creating equitable opportunities, removing barriers to success, and dismantling systems of oppressions are long-range goals I see as necessary to creating a socially just environment, and certainly within higher education. How this is accomplished and how quickly varies by institution and a number of internal and external influencing factors. Therefore, one of my short-term goals will be to learn about the inner workings of NHCC and listen to what members deem as critical points of need, as well as learn about the areas that can be strengthened. Listening is key and will be a major focus of mine, so I look forward to hearing from community members.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Since the completion of my doctoral journey, I feel like I’ve been given my life back after many years, so now that I have some free time again I look forward to enjoying the outdoors whether it be trail running, camping, or building a snowman. Being from San Francisco, I enjoy using my free time to venture out to find tasty eats - be it Vietnamese, Thai, Arabic, Turkish, you name it, I’m all in. I hear Brooklyn Park is home to many great dining destinations, so share your favorites with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ed.D. Leadership and Professional Practice – Trevecca Nazarene University
M.S. Higher Education Administration – Southern New Hampshire University
B.A. Broadcast and Electronic Communications – San Francisco State University