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Debra Watkins

Founder & Executive Director

ABEN: A Black Education Network


San Jose, California

Debra Watkins

A Bit About Me

As Dr. Asa Hilliard reminded us throughout his illustrious career, all Black children are geniuses, so I am passionate about ABEN's work because we exist to elevate their genius in all we do!


I studied in France for one year right after high school graduation.


Debra Watkins spent 37 years in the East Side Union High School District in San Jose,

CA, as a teacher, counselor, and project manager before retiring in 2012. During that

same period, she was a founding member of the Santa Clara County Alliance of

Black Educators (SCCABE), where she served as president from 1994 to 2001.


In 2001, she founded the California Alliance of African American Educators (CAAAE)

and the Dr. Frank S. Greene Scholars Program (GSP). Named after an African American scientist who helped pave the way for today’s computers, the GSP sends 100% of its students to college, 90% graduate in 4 years with BA or BS degrees, and 60% of those are in STEM which is about 8 times the national average for Black students.


In 2015, she was one of the founders of Black Students of California United (BSCU).


In 2017, Debra officially changed the name of the CAAAE to A Black Education

Network (ABEN). She currently serves as Executive Director.

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