CDT welcomes our new Deputy Director, Molly Watson
Molly, Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I grew up in a loving and political household as the middle child and only daughter of my dad, a Haitian immigrant and physician, and my mother, a hippie from the South and a college professor. My parents have had a profound impact on my values, personality, and the way I approach life.
My dad arrived in the US in 1976 and has worked as a physician throughout Los Angeles, as a fluent Spanish speaker, since the early 1990s. His heart, love for people, bedside manner, and efforts to deliberately work in communities who deserve a higher quality of care — no matter their status — were never lost on me and have always guided my ambitions and work. My dad continuously grounds my brothers and me in the sacrifices made by our ancestors so he could do the same for his children to have a better life, and so on. I’m also a fun-loving liberal who will voice my opinions, just like my mom.
Growing up in Huntington Beach, I was active in school and sports like junior lifeguards, soccer, basketball, and field hockey. I taught swimming while finishing my bachelor’s in Afro-Ethnic Studies from CSU Fullerton. In 2010 I moved to Brooklyn, NY to study Urban Affairs at CUNY Hunter in Manhattan with a focus on Community Development and Education Policy. My time in NY taught me about the importance of community-based entities and the need for leadership and staffing to be represented and supported to do the deep organizing work that lifts our communities up. I began working in the non-profit industry as an Advocate and Academic Coordinator at Harlem Children’s Zone and then in fundraising for the foundation of an Independent safety net hospital in Downtown Brooklyn.
In 2013, I married my Brooklyn-born Morehouse man, Nevon, who I met while working at Harlem Children’s Zone. The following year I gave birth to our son, Kingston aka “King”.
After supporting campaigns, volunteering, advocating, and voting, following the 2016 election, I decided to get deeper into politics. In 2017, I brought my husband and son home to Southern California to work in fundraising and partnership roles for the progressive accountability organization Courage California. During my time at Courage, I completed the Emerge California program and became an active Board member for the Black Women’s Democratic Club based out of LA County. Additionally, I’m a Scout for Close the Gap California, helping to recruit and guide the next class of womxn into the California state legislature to achieve gender parity with progressive and diverse candidates.
These days, my favorite things include family + friends, justice, laughter, and natural hair.
What is one moment that got you involved in social justice, and what is one moment that has kept you involved?
A significant time that got me involved in social justice came during my studies as a young adult. In junior college, my first African American Studies course changed my trajectory because it was the first course that broke down institutional and systemic racism in America. I haven’t looked back since. That class and curriculum propelled my engagement with campaigns and taught me that we don’t all have the same information by design, but we can change that through movement work and policy changes.
A moment that underlined my commitment to social justice work was around the time of the Muslim travel ban and the former president calling Haiti and other nations “sh*thole countries.” The Muslim ban and the name-calling hurt deeply and showed that no one is safe when leadership is afraid of everyone who is unlike them. I knew the policy and comments came out of ignorance, hate, and fear, but watching people agree with the President showed a need for major change. This moment encapsulated how much the general public has to learn about non-white communities and motivated me to bring all of myself and my people to the front to correct the false narratives of who we are versus who we may be perceived to be.
Another experience that kept me involved in social and economic justice was my pregnancy. The lack of resources, empathy, and support for pregnant people in America, especially Black, indigenous, and all womxn of color is awful. A time that should be exciting was confusing and chaotic for me and many other birthing people because of the way we are identified and treated through our pregnancies and deliveries, the lack of support for parental leave as working people, and the costs of giving birth and recovering. Thankfully, I had insurance and two family members who are physicians I could call for anything, but everyone does not have these privileges and I’ve stayed committed to making sure this is something we fix as a nation for ourselves and our future generations.
What brings you to CDT and what do you hope for the organization in the future?
I’m joining CDT because I know how hard it is to raise political money for campaigns and organizations. I believe CDT’s founding board, members, and team are aiding avenues to correct this issue and then some. CDT’s mission and theory of change to fund civic and political power-building ecosystems so organizers can get to critical work are detrimental for the health of our democracy as well as the health of all the leaders and activists doing this work.
I see a significant opportunity for groups, regions, and campaigns to align with the community needs and leaders of the people they represent. We must achieve this on a statewide scale, and I believe California Donor Table and California Donor Table Fund’s functions can help assist community-based c3 and c4 organizations, racial equity-focused donors and institutions, and progressive candidates up that path. I’m looking forward to achieving this model of representative democracy and governance with CDT/F.
Finish the sentence… When not working, you can find me
at the beach with my family or roller skating. You can also find me doing my hair.