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The WRPA Conference Committee is excited to be producing a program for WRPA 2023. We are still refining our session details and activities. In the meantime, we encourage you to take a moment to review the schedule-at-a-glance.

To view the complete schedule, start by choosing one of the conference dates below:


Opening Keynote Speaker 

Dr. Lori A. Watson

Founder & CEO Race-Work

Dr. Lori A. Watson grew up in Greenville, Mississippi, where she was profoundly influenced by the leaders and educators in her family. Her father was the first Black notary public as well as proprietor of the first “negro-owned” commercial laundry in the state of Mississippi. Her uncle was the first Black student to receive a Ph.D. from the University of Alabama. As a result, Lori learned the value of pride and perseverance, and through the nurturing of her mother and aunt who were both teachers, she learned the importance of education.

After high school graduation, Lori received her B.A. in Health and Physical Education from Tougaloo College, a Historically Black College in Tougaloo, MS. There she was captain of the women’s basketball team and pledged Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She received an M.S.Ed. In Health, Physical Education and Recreation from Jackson State University, another Historically Black College. In 2012, Lori earned her Ed.D. from California State University East Bay in Hayward, CA. Her doctoral dissertation topic was, “Wow, they care right?” Making Schools Safe for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Students.

During her twenty-plus years as an educator, Lori was a teacher, basketball coach, and school administrator at both the elementary and secondary levels. Following her tenure in Education, Lori worked as an Equity Transformation Specialist with Courageous Conversation, a consulting agency committed to achieving racial equity. She trained and facilitated nationwide, guiding individuals and organizations to uncover personal and institutional biases in order to elevate racial consciousness and move toward systemic racial equity transformation. In the spring of 2020, Lori moved into entrepreneurship, and began her own independent consulting company by founding Race-Work, LLC. As the C.E.O. of her own company, she continues to partner with numerous K-12 school districts, universities, non-profit and private companies, in addition to both small and large corporations.

Lori resides in Oakland, CA where she has lived for 17 years.

What calls me to do this work? “I do this work because I believe in this work. And I believe in this work because I know that it changes lives. When participants leave my seminars with elevated levels of racial consciousness and tools to interrupt personal, professional, and organizational racism, their lives are changed, and they have the potential to change the lives of others and the world around them. "


Closing Keynote Speaker 

Dr. Rachelle Strawther

Facilitator & Leadership Consultant

Dr. Rachelle Strawther is a captivating speaker who is passionate about leadership development. She has delivered keynotes at the Boeing Company, the International Leadership Association, the National Association of Sports Officials, the Spokane Women’s March, and many other organizations and events. Engaging audiences through candor and humor, she connects deeply with diverse audiences, whether by sharing stories to elementary school students or engaging engineers in discussions about workplace challenges.

Rachelle holds an undergraduate degree in Anthropology, a Master's in Communication and Leadership, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. As of September 2021, she is the founding Director of the Center for Lifelong Learning for Gonzaga University, overseeing the institution’s continuing education, professional development, and personal enrichment programs. During her nearly ten years at Gonzaga, Rachelle has taught at the undergraduate and graduate level and served a term as President of the Staff Assembly, representing more than 800 employees at Gonzaga. 

Prior to coming to Gonzaga, Rachelle worked in Kisumu, Kenya, for eight years, first implementing community- based programs for women and children affected by HIV and later leading a regional sports-for-development organization serving 3000 youth. She continues to stay connected to this community by managing the Kalaki Scholarship Fund, a program for disadvantaged youth that she co-founded in 2009. Additionally, she serves on the board of several organizations, including Partnering for Progress, Dunga Orphanage Project, and the Gonzaga Center for the Study of Hate.

Rachelle’s guiding leadership mantra can be encapsulated in this African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”