Jo Ann Nichols Watson
has served as a municipal legislator since 2003 and was named by The Nation Magazine as the “Most Valuable Local Municipal Official” in 2010. From 1990 to 1997, she was the only woman to lead the nation’s largest branch of the NAACP; and from 1997 until her election in 2003, she was Public Liaison for a Congressional Office in The House of Representatives, addressing Health Care, Racial Profiling, Domestic Violence and Justice issues. From 1979 to 1990 Watson served as the Director of the Downtown Detroit Young Women’s Christian Association and as the Assistant Executive Director of the Young Women’s Christian Association of the U.S.A.
Jo Ann Nichols Watson is the daughter of a Methodist Minister, (her mother, Reverend Lestine Kent Nichols), is a Journalism graduate of The University of Michigan, has broadcast a faith-based talk show “Wake Up Detroit” since 1990, and has sponsored an Urban Journalism Institute for high school students.
Watson was a presenter in The Black Family Summit broadcast on The Word Network in September, 2011; has been a frequent presenter during the Congressional Black Caucus Reparations Braintrust Sessions since 1990, was a panelist before the U. S. House Judiciary Committee in December 2009, a speaker during the United Nations World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa in 2001, a delegate to the Women for a Meaningful Summit Conference in the former U.S.S.R. in 1989; and a keynoter to the State of the Black World Conference in 2003 and 2008 and the American Red Cross National Convention in 1990.. In addition, she has served on the Racial Justice Working Group of the National Council of Churches, President of the National Anti-Klan Network, and on the National Boards of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, National Association for the Study of the Harassment of African American Officials, the Sugar Law Center of the National Lawyers Guild, and the Center for Constitutional Rights, among other organizations
Jo Ann Nichols Watson is a licensed Social Worker with the State of Michigan, and she has authored numerous publications including: Should America Pay published in 2003 and Urban Metaphysics published in 2011. She is a native Detroiter, eldest of ten, mother of four, grandmother of 4 and has sponsored Detroit students who are attending The Latin American medical school in Cuba; more than 100 students who have attended Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio; thousands of students who have participated in Summer Jobs programs and she has founded programs such as Bank On Detroit, the Paradise Valley Cultural District, the Micro Loan Program for Small Business in Detroit and the Task Force to Halt Scrap Metal Crimes.
Jo Ann Watson was invited by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to an historic reception at the White House on February 22, 2012 to commemorate the groundbreaking ceremony for the Black History wing of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D. C. On February 25th, 2012,
Jo Ann Watson was a featured guest on MSNBC’s “Chris Hayes Program” discussing Detroit’s Recovery and Rebirth. Watson proudly counts Coleman A. Young, Erma L. Henderson, John Conyers, Mother Rosa Parks, Rev. Dr. C. T. Vivian & Dr. Dorothy I. Height among her mentors.