About Us

Kondaa / Congress Planners & Conveners


Dr. Iva E. Carruthers

Iva Carruthers (1) (1)Dr. Iva Carruthers is General Secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, a national interdenominational organization within the African American faith tradition focused on social justice issues. She is also founder of Lois House, an urban retreat center, Chicago, Illinois. She has a long history of engagement in community development initiatives and social justice ministry, fostering interdenominational and interfaith dialogue in the United States, Caribbean, South America and Africa. She currently serves as a Life Time Trustee for the Chicago Theological Seminary, and Trustee for The Kwame Nkrumah Academy and Shared Interest.

Dr. Carruthers is also Professor Emeritus and former Chairperson of the Sociology Department at Northeastern Illinois University and was founding President of Nexus Unlimited, an information and educational technology firm. She was appointed to the Clinton White House Advisory Council on the internet, “National Information Infrastructure,” Mega Project. She has authored and edited a number of articles and publications and is co-editor of Blow The Trumpet in Zion: Global Vision And Action for the 21st Century Black Church.

She was a delegate to the 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and her publication, The Church and Reparations, was distributed by her denomination in several languages. She published fifteen study guides on African American & African history as co-producer of an educational television program and the educational software she developed was awarded a ComputerWorld Smithsonian Award. She has served as consulting author to McGraw Hill reading programs.

Her many awards and appointments include the 1999 Life Achievement Award by Northeastern Illinois University and “Year 2000 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year” award, given by the National Foundation of Women Legislators and the Small Business Administration and the Computerworld Smithsonian Award for her groundbreaking educational software. She was inducted into the National History Makers; was a recipient of Ebony Magazine’s year 2001 Outstanding IMother Award for Mentoring; and, noted as a Chicago area social justice pioneer in the Women Alive! A Legacy of Social Justice Exhibit. Dr. Carruthers is a frequent guest speaker before various national and international forums, has served as a consultant and delegate to many organizations in the public and private sectors and lectured extensively before national and international forums. She has led study tours for the university and church throughout Africa and the Diaspora.

She received the B.A. degree from the University of Illinois; the M.A. and the Ph.D. in Sociology from Northwestern University; a M.T.S. degree from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Humane Letters, Meadville Lombard Theological School. Awards and postdoctoral fellowships received by Dr. Carruthers include Northwestern University Center for Urban Affairs, The Russell Sage Foundation, University of Chicago, Adlai Stevenson Institute for International Affairs and The National Endowment for the Humanities.


Dr. Joyce E. King

Dr Joyce KingDr. Joyce E. King holds a Doctorate in the Social Foundations of Education and a Bachelors Degree (with Honors), both from Stanford University. Her educational background also includes a certificate from the Harvard Institute in Educational Management. Since 2004 Dr. King has served as the Benjamin E. Mays Endowed Chair for Urban Teaching, Learning and Leadership and Professor of Educational Policy Studies in the College of Education at Georgia State University.

Previously, Dr. King held senior academic affairs positions for ten years—as Provost at Spelman College, Associate Provost at Medgar Evers College, CUNY and Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Diversity Programs at the University of New Orleans. She was also Director of Teacher Education for twelve years at Santa Clara University and the first Head of the Ethnic Studies Department at Mills College. She completed the American Council on Education (ACE) Fellowship at Stanford University in the offices of the President, the Vice President for Planning and Management, and the Office for Multicultural Development. As a W.K. Kellogg National Fellowship recipient, Dr. King also studied women’s leadership and grassroots participation in social change in Africa (Kenya, Mali), China, Japan, Brazil, Peru and France.

Widely respected in the fields of Teacher Education and the Sociology of Education, Dr. King’s research has contributed to the knowledgebase on preparing teachers for diversity and Black Studies curriculum theorizing through her scholarship and teaching practice. Her recent publications include an article in the Harvard Educational Review, “Who dat say (we) too depraved to be saved?” Re-Membering Katrina/Haiti (and Beyond): Critical studyin’ for human freedom,” a chapter in the 105th Yearbook of the National Society of Education titled, “If Justice Is Our Objective”: Diaspora Literacy, Heritage Knowledge and the Praxis of Critical Studyin’ and “Critical & Qualitative Research in Teacher Education: A Blues Epistemology for Cultural Well-Being and a Reason for Knowing” in The Handbook of Research on Teacher Education.

In addition, a landmark book Dr. King edited, Black Education: A Transformative Research and Action Agenda for the New Century, was published for the American Educational Research Association (2005). She has served as co-editor of the top-ranked Review of Educational Research, and her concept of “dysconscious racism” continues to influence research and practice in education and sociology as well. She has lectured in various educational and community organizations throughout the United States and Brazil, Canada, England, Mali and Senegal (W. Africa), Japan, Jamaica and New Zealand. Dr. King is also President of the Board of Directors of Food First (Institute for Food and Development Policy, Oakland, California).

With her doctoral students at Georgia State University, Dr. King has established the Songhoy Club, an after-school pedagogical laboratory that uses African language and African American culture as a foundation for project-based heritage teaching and student leadership development.

Dr. Joyce E. King is a dynamic leader and visionary teacher/scholar with a wealth of academic and administrative experience. Her accomplishments reflect an emphasis on innovative interdisciplinary scholarship, culturally connected teaching and learning and transformative leadership for change in higher education, often in creative partnership with communities. She is president-elect of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).


Debra Watkins, M.ED., M.S.

Debra Watkins (1)Debra Watkins was born in Los Angeles and raised in Pomona, California. After her high school graduation, she studied in France for one year and earned a baccalaureate that enabled her to attend college in the country free of charge. Instead, she returned to the United States and earned a B.A. in English with minors in French and Psychology from Pitzer College in 1976. She then entered Stanford University’s Teacher Education Program and earned a Master’s degree in Education as well as Life-time Teaching Credentials in English, French and Psychology in 1977. A second Master’s degree in Counselor Education was granted in 1996 from San Jose State University.

Debra had spent her entire career of 35 years in the East Side Union High School District (ESUHSD) of San Jose before retiring in May 2012. Debra taught high school English for 14 years, then helped start an alternative high school called Pegasus. After eight years at Pegasus, she coordinated Project WORD (Working On Refining our Destiny) – a culturally responsive intervention program for African American students. While on an unpaid leave of absence from the ESUHSD, Debra worked one year as Director of Silicon Valley Service for a school reform organization called Partners in School Innovation. She was responsible for coaching elementary school principals and teachers on how to close the opportunity gap for Black and Brown students.

After being away from the classroom for five years, Debra returned for three years and taught juniors and seniors. As of July 2007, she is the full-time Executive Director of the California Alliance of African American Educators (CAAAE), an organization she founded in 2001, as well as its president. Debra was also one of the founders of the Santa Clara County Alliance of Black Educators approximately 30 years ago and served as its president for seven years (1994-2001). In 2007, the CAAAE partnered with the ESUHSD and garnered a four-year, $400,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation’s Aspire program to fully implement Project WORD at Oak Grove High School. This grant was to ensure the on-time graduation of a cohort of African American freshmen. Project WORD was highly-successful and is a model for districts seeking to close the opportunity gap and reduce high school drop-out rates.

When Debra established the CAAAE in 2001, she also created the Dr. Frank S. Greene Scholars Program (GSP). Named after an African American scientist who made his fortune in Silicon Valley, the GSP is a long-term, youth development STEM initiative for students of African ancestry based in Santa Clara County. With 100% of its students enrolling in college, 90% graduating in four years with a BS or BA degree, and 28% of those degrees in STEM fields (three times the national average for Black students), the GSP has garnered the support of companies in Silicon Valley ranging from Google to Texas Instruments to Cisco and Intel. Headquartered at Cypress Semiconductor, the GSP hosts the only all-African American science fair in the state of CA and has the only all-African American MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) chapter in the state as well. In 2011, the CAAAE created a school-based model which is being piloted at the Dr. George Washington Carver Elementary School in the Bayview/Hunter’s Point neighborhood of San Francisco.