Rychetta Watkins, a White Station High School graduate, completed her undergraduate degree at Washington University and her PhD in English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Since 2012, Rychetta has consulted with non-profit organizations in the arts and education to build program and fund capacity for greater impact. Prior to that, Dr. Watkins was an Assistant Professor of English at William Jewell and Rhodes Colleges. Her research on contemporary African American and Asian American literature and civil rights movements of the 1960’s fuels her belief in educational access as a social justice issue. The relationship between political identity and cultural expression is the subject of her 2012 book, Black Power, Yellow Power and the Making of Revolutionary Identity, and her 2016 play, Iola’s Southern Fields, which depicts Ida B. Wells’ early years in the Mid-South and the roots of her activism in Memphis.
Rychetta has served in various leadership capacities within local non-profits, including Interim Senior Manager for Neighborhood Strategies for Whole Child Strategies, Inc., AmeriCorps Programs Coordinator for the City of Memphis, Program Manager for Common Ground, and Development Manager for Stand for Children Tennessee. An April 2013 graduate of the New Memphis Institute Fellows program and 2015 member of the Leadership Memphis Executive Program, Rychetta focuses her civic engagement through local organizations, such as Hattiloo Theatre and The Shelby County (TN) Chapter of The Links, Inc.