Dr. Verónica N. Vélez

Dr. Verónica (Vero) Vélez is an Associate Professor in Secondary Education and the Founding Director of Western Washington University’s (WWU) Education and Social Justice Minor. Her research focuses on Latinx im/migrant mother activism, community-based participatory action research in grassroots contexts, popular education, and (re)imagining cartographic tools for movement building. Each of these areas is informed by expertise in Critical Race Theory (CRT), Latinx Critical Theory (LatCrit), Radical and Tactical Cartography, and Chicana Feminist Epistemologies. She has published in multiple academic journals including Educational Forum, Harvard Educational Review, The High School Journal, Association of Mexican American Educators Journal, Educational Foundations, Seattle University Journal for Social Justice, Contemporary Justice Review, and Race, Ethnicity, and Education, and has contributed several chapters to edited anthologies. She is also a National Academies Ford Foundation Fellow and a Faculty Fellow with the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE).

Vero pursued her graduate studies at UCLA, completing an MA and PhD in Social Science and Comparative Education with a specialization in Race and Ethnic Studies. She conducted her undergraduate studies at Stanford University, where she obtained a BA in Psychology. Before joining WWU, Vero was a Post-Doctorate Research Fellow and Director of Public Programming at the Center for Latino Policy Research (CLPR) at UC Berkeley. At CLPR, Vero developed research partnerships with P-16 institutions, non-profit organizations, and grassroots groups connected to CLPR’s research priorities in the areas of education, immigration, and civic engagement. She co-led a multi-method community needs assessment in the historically Latinx Mission neighborhood of San Francisco as part of a U.S. Department of Education grant that resulted in an award of $30 million to provide cradle-to-career services for Mission residents.

In addition to her scholarly work, Vero worked as a grassroots organizer with Latinx im/migrant families for over 15 years on local school reform efforts and adult literacy campaigns rooted in popular education. She is currently collaborating with teachers, administrators, and community members to develop Ethnic Studies in Bellingham Public Schools. In 2017, she was one of six faculty across Washington State awarded The Ormsby Award for Faculty Citizenship to recognize exemplary service in the public interest for her efforts to create systems through which institutionally underrepresented and underserved students can access higher education. In 2020, she was awarded Western Washington University’s Excellence in Teaching Award. Vero is the proud daughter of a Mexican im/migrant mother and a Panamanian im/migrant father, whose journey to provide her with a quality education fundamentally inspires her work for social and racial justice.

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