Congresswoman Diane E. Watson, born in Los Angeles, is a lifetime resident of the 33rd California Congressional District. After graduating from Dorsey High School, Congresswoman Watson attended Los Angeles City College and matriculated at UCLA where she received her B.A. in Education. She also holds an M.A. in School Psychology from California State University, Los Angeles, and a PhD in Educational Administration from the Claremont Graduate School.
Her lifetime commitment to education stems from her involvement in the Los Angeles public schools where she worked as an elementary school teacher and school psychologist. She has lectured at both California State Universities at Los Angeles and Long Beach.
In 1975, Congresswoman Watson became the first African-American woman to serve on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. Her legacy there includes efforts to expand school integration and toughen academic standards.
The year 1978 marked her joining the California State Senate where she was chosen to chair, from 1981 to 1998, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. She also served on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
During her tenure in the California State Senate, Congresswoman Watson became a statewide and national advocate for health care, consumer protection, women, and children. In 1993, she authored the California Birth Defects Monitoring Program Act, which led to pioneering research into the causes of birth defects, and the Residential Care Facilities Act, to ensure that senior citizens receive quality care in nursing and assisted living homes. In 1997, she introduced legislation to toughen food health safety requirements for restaurants. She also played a key role in the enactment of legislation to promote breast cancer research.
Congresswoman Watson has also been an advocate for commonsense welfare reform in the state of California. She played a major role in formulating the state of California’s TANF program , which provides education, child care, and employment to welfare recipients. She sought funding to help teen mothers complete their education and gain jobs through the Cal-Learn program.
In 1998, Congresswoman Watson served as the United States Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia until 2001 when she was sworn in as a Member of Congress after the death of Congressman Julian Dixon, who held the seat for 22 years. In January 2003, Congresswoman Watson was sworn in as a member of the 108th Congress.
Congresswoman Watson currently serves on the International Relations and Government Reform Committees.