I am a purpose-driven leader with year-over-year success in envisioning, developing and leading policy advocacy initiatives that end inequities and improve outcomes for children and families. I bring a special combination of strengths in policy advocacy, analysis, business engagement and philanthropic practice and fundraising. (LinkedIn)
I am dedicated to supporting policy initiatives that advance equity for/with, and end discrimination against, people who are marginalized based on race, ethnicity, gender, disability status, gender identity, background, or other factors. This includes both the policy agenda and the advocacy strategy to achieve that agenda.
Before founding Watson Strategies in August 2020, I was the Senior Director, Policy at the Bainum Family Foundation, leading the Foundation’s support for investments in advocacy to reduce racial and economic inequity in the city of Washington, D.C. I worked with local leaders to restructure the Under 3 DC campaign in Washington, D.C., which engages community leaders to fight for giving children a good start.
I was the co-founder and Global Director of ReadyNation and ReadyNation International (www.readynation.org), the only business membership organization designed to support executives to be champions for children from prenatal to young adulthood. I worked with national, state and local leaders on mobilizing the business community to support the lifelong success of children. I have led or helped organize dozens of business summits at the state, national and international levels. Through ReadyNation International, I worked with in-country leaders to create business networks in multiple countries. I also created a speakers’ bureau of scientists and executives on early brain development.
A key part of the role was fundraising for ReadyNation’s work from foundations, individuals and corporations, as well as directing its merger with two other organizations. I led or contributed to strategic planning for several organizations. (ReadyNation is part of Council for a Strong America.)
As a Senior Officer at The Pew Charitable Trusts, I led a ground-breaking national advocacy campaign for prekindergarten, contributing to doubling state and federal spending. Key to success was creating partnerships with more than 30 state and national organizations. Another responsibility was overseeing the merger with grantee Prek Now. At Pew, I also created the Pew Home Visiting Campaign and Results First, an initiative to structure state budgets based on results.
I served as Executive Vice President at America’s Promise Alliance and as a Policy Analyst for the Washington State Family Policy Council. In Washington, I worked with communities statewide, including Native American Tribes, to create logic models and help local leaders choose outcomes and strategies to improve the lives of children and youth. Earlier in my career, I was a policy expert on disability and employment issues.
I have published a wide variety of articles and reports in academic, mainstream media and organizational outlets, and made more than 100 major presentations before state, national and international audiences.
My educational background includes M.P.P. and Ph.D. degrees from the Harvard Kennedy School and a B.A. from Carleton College.
In my other life I'm an ordained Ruling Elder in my Presbyterian church and leader of our women's circle. I was a volunteer Master Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) for my local fire department for 10 years and now manage their volunteers. I made and gave away more than 400 masks through The Makana Project. I love being a volunteer teacher with the Literacy Council of Montgomery County, teaching English to speakers of other languages; and a volunteer with a dog rescue organization. I'm the proud wife of a high school English teacher, and mom of two adult children and two rescue dogs, an Aussie Shepherd and a Golden Retriever/Chow mix.