Diane E. Watson
Diane E. Watson served as the United States Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) from 1998 until 2001, when she ran for Congress in a special election after the death of Congressman Julian Dixon. In November 2002, she won reelection to the 108th Congress.
A native of California, she was a member of the California State Senate for 20 years from 1978 through 1998. She graduated from Susan Miller Dorsey High School, attended Los Angeles City College and earned a B.A. degree in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles. She received a M.S. degree in School Psychology from California State University, Los Angeles, attended the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and earned a Ph.D. in Educational Administration from the Claremont Graduate School in 1987. Although her professional experience in the field of education included working as an elementary school teacher, she also served on the faculty at both Cal State Los Angeles and Long Beach. In 1975, she became the first elected African American woman to serve on the Board of Education of the Los Angeles School District, where she led the movement to desegregate Los Angeles schools.
In 1978, she became the first African American woman elected to the California State Senate and was reelected four more times. In 1981, she became the chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and served in that capacity until the end of her legislative term in November 1998. During this time, she presided over the hearings for 2,200 bills in the committee and became a nationally recognized expert on health care and social services. She also served on the Subcommittees on Bioethics and Mental Health. In 1983, she was appointed to the State's Council on Wellness and Fitness. Congresswoman Watson has received many awards, including "Legislator of the Year" by the State Bar of California, the Alumnus of the Year Award from UCLA and the CAL-PAC Community Service Award.