Claremont Graduate University, Senior Research and Evaluation Associate
Susan R. Warren, Ph.D., has been developing, inspiring, teaching, and leading students, families, and communities towards a vision for equity and inclusion for over 40 years. Through research and leadership she has made a significant contribution at the local, national, and global levels.
Her career path reflects a life dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion. She served 22 years as a K-8 teacher, program specialist, and principal in 3 Southern California districts supporting underrepresented and underserved students and their families. She also helped build the capacity of the educators at her schools and encouraged them to use their talents, achieve their goals, and reach for their dreams. During this time, Warren developed resources, wrote grants, and implemented programs for teachers to incorporate environmental education in their schools. Warren also became a science ambassador for the state in CSIN (California Science Implementation Network) promoting a balanced K-12 science curriculum for all California students. She worked on state health committees creating model K-12 state curriculum and guides. She wrote grants and initiated a national Peace Builder Program at 2 large elementary schools in San Bernardino County, then expanded the program to include parents who were inspired and trained to become Peace Builders in their own communities. As a trained evaluator, she led teams across the region conducting state program and compliance evaluations. Additionally, Warren worked for the state in the California School Leadership Academy building the capacity of school leadership teams through training in organizational transformation and equity. One of her final accomplishments in K-12 education was writing and being awarded a state grant for over $1 million to initiate and implement afterschool programs at 5 middle schools in a large L.A. County school district predominantly serving underrepresented students of color.
Warren’s career path changed after earning a Ph.D. in Urban Educational Leadership at CGU where was awarded the Peter Lincoln Spencer Outstanding Dissertation of the Year. Transitioning to higher education, she developed and directed Social Justice MA programs in Education and taught MA and doctoral courses for 17 years at Claremont Graduate University (CGU) and Azusa Pacific University (APU). Throughout this time, Warren advised and coached thousands of educators, always inspiring them to reach their capacities and strive for equity. She was acknowledged for her talents as a professor and received a prestigious and competitive award for Outstanding Teaching at APU. Her students throughout the years still seek her support both personally and professionally. Research is another area of accomplishment for Warren. She has over 30 peer reviewed publications, mostly focusing on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion and she received a prestigious and competitive award for Outstanding Research at APU. She has presented her research across the globe at hundreds of conferences and other venues and co-edited and co-authored a book that was just published in January 2023 by Teachers College Press, Columbia University: Building Culturally Responsive Partnerships Among Schools, Families, and Communities. In her last three years at APU, Warren served as the director of the Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence, training staff, faculty, and administrators to create a more inclusive campus through cultural proficiency and cognitive coaching. She developed and implemented a Diversity Ambassador Program at the center inspiring and training over 250 staff, faculty, and administrators to become leaders in this transformation within their own departments. The program still exists and has been recognized nationally for its success. Warren will present, again, research on the program this April to global participants at the American Educational Research Association Conference in Chicago. Warren’s most recent work in higher education was as a senior research associate at CGU evaluating education programs in TK-12 and higher education institutions. All of the center’s evaluations are for organizations supporting equity and social justice work such as programs to increase college access, support victims of human trafficking, and assist incarcerated youth of color.
Most of Warren’s time is now spent directing the children’s non-profit summer STEAM program she co-founded on the Pitzer campus. Now in its 40th year, Project Think has touched the lives and encouraged thousands of children to engage in, think critically about, and love learning through a liberal arts education. There is more on Warren’s accomplishments through Project Think in the Service to Alma Mater section.
Service to Alma Mater*
Susan Warren was the first in her family to attend and graduate from college. As a first gen student without financial resources, she was provided financial aid that allowed her to attend and thrive at Pitzer. Over the years, since graduating from Pitzer (’78), Warren has recruited dozens of students, parents, and school staff to not only become change-makers but to become inspired and educated social justice advocates, as she was, by attending Pitzer College. One such woman was an instructional aide in special education at a middle school who had grown-up in Mexico and attended college for a couple of years in engineering school. She quit college to marry her husband from California and move to the United States. Warren was an assistant principal at the middle school and encouraged the woman to join her in leading a student club that was a branch of a national organization, Socially Together and Naturally Diverse, a large social movement to bring together diverse students at schools for reconciliation. As Warren worked with her, she took on more responsibility including running folkloric dancing afterschool and helping to coordinate a schoolwide, student led event that included the outside community – all learning about and celebrating the diverse religions of the student body. Warren knew that the instructional aide could be a wonderful teacher who had a passion for equity and inclusion. One afternoon when the woman was visiting, Warren locked her office door, opened her computer, and had the staff member complete the application for Pitzer’s New Resources Program. A few years later, Silvia Elvis not only graduated from Pitzer College (’99) but went on to Claremont Graduate University where she was a student in one of Warren’s Family and Community Engagement courses. Silvia was a bilingual teacher for many years who engaged and supported not only her students but their families. She became the English Language resource teacher for her school and has been actively involved at the district and county levels with this work for over 20 years. She is known for her amazing advocacy for English Learners and their families. She credits Warren with believing in her, encouraging her, and supporting her. “It is because of Warren that I am a teacher and have supported so many marginalized children and their families. Susie brought Silvia back to Pitzer for the reunion this past spring (2023), Silvia’s first time back to campus since graduating. Silvia will now be on the 2024 Reunion Committee and is excited to be a part of Pitzer again. Warren believes in people, has high expectations for them, and helps them achieve their goals and dreams” (Silvia Elvis). Silvia’s story is one of many.
Warren was also the first Pitzer Fellow supporting the founding of the CCCSI (California Center for Community and Social Interaction), today known as Pitzer’s Community Engagement Center, and establishment of the center’s first community programs. Together with the center’s team, they investigated and started many community programs and projects at Pitzer including Jump Start, the International Social Studies K-12 Curriculum Project, and literacy instruction at Camp Afflerbaugh detention center. She taught a course to Pitzer students on community-based research and helped develop the center’s project both within Pitzer and the surrounding communities. Warren’s work at the center included promoting collaborative research between Pitzer and the communities, a true passion of hers. She is currently on the Pitzer CEC 25th Anniversary Planning Committee.
As Claremont Graduate University’s Director of the MA in Community Education and Teaching and the MA in Community Education and Research programs, Warren recruited undergraduates from the 5Cs, including Pitzer. She then taught and advised them on a career path as educators dedicated to supporting marginalized students, their families, and communities through equity and excellence in education. Many of the students in these programs became recognized leaders in community education and have served countless students and their families throughout California. This ripple effect all started when Pitzer College accepted Susan Warren and offered her a scholarship in 1974.
Warren co-founded and continues to serve as the CEO and director of Project Think, TK-8th grade children’s summer academic enrichment STEAM program. Founded on the Pitzer campus in 1980, the non-profit program reflects Pitzer’s values and mission. Students are provided with a liberal arts curriculum and encouraged to engage in activities that promote critical thinking. The curriculum is designed to stimulate deeper learning and discussion around topics that will prepare them to be leaders in the future. The program began with 15 students from Warren’s and her co-teacher’s classrooms and in 2019 (the last year of the program prior to being off for 3 years due to COVID) there were approximately 250 students each 3-week session. This summer, Project Think will celebrate its 40th year of operation and is excited to be back on Pitzer’s campus. Alumni from the program have started sending their testimonials about how the program impacted them as children and youth. These will be posted on a special page on the website. www.projectthink.com
Finally, Warren has served for the past 12 years as an executive board member of the California chapter of the National Association of Multicultural Educators (CA-NAME) which sponsors yearly conferences on Ethnic Studies for educators throughout the state. The 2023 conference was held at Cal State L.A. in January.