Rachel Watts is a multidisciplinary arts educator who focuses on advocating for meaningful and equitable programming for young people. She designs programs and facilitates professional development workshops that promote organizational equity and support students thriving as learners, artists, critical thinkers, innovators, and designers of their own professional pathways. Born in Ghana, she grew up on the island of Trinidad where she developed her passion for dance, theater, music, art, carnival, and cultures of the world.
Ms. Watts is currently the Executive Director at ArtsConnection Inc. in New York City, a non-profit which provides multi-arts residencies to over 100 public schools each year and also engages teens during out-of-school time in their own constructed experience of the arts. She has also worked as Director of Education at Ballet Hispanico in New York City and Director of The MYC Youth Center in San Rafael California, where she created a state of the art facility focused on developing teen leadership skills through the arts and technology. Her introduction to non-profit Arts Education was in the education department at The Studio Museum in Harlem, just after she graduated from college.
She is also currently a Doctoral student in the Urban Education program at the CUNY Graduate Center. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from Williams College and received her Master’s Degree at New York University in Latin American and Caribbean Studies with a concentration in Museum Studies. She also studied Visual Art at the Edna Manley College of the Arts in Jamaica, and Modern and West African dance with Noble Douglas in Trinidad, at Emerson College, and under the mentorship of Sandra Burton at Williams College. She also has taught undergraduate students in the Art Education Program at City College in Harlem.
She serves on the board of the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable and is Co-Chair of the Advocacy Committee for the Roundtable. She is also the founder of The TECA Project. TECA: Teen Empowerment through Carnival Arts, is a program that engages teens in the creation, design, and performance of a processional-arts costume band based on a theme or social issue that is important to them.