Verónica N. Vélez, Ph.D.

she/her/ella, Founding Director, Education and Social Justice Minor & Program; Associate Professor, Secondary Education


Dr. Verónica N. Vélez is an Associate Professor in Secondary Education and the Founding Director of Western Washington University’s (WWU) Education and Social Justice Minor. Her research focuses on Latinx im/migrant mother activism, community-based participatory action research in grassroots contexts, popular education, and (re)imagining cartographic tools for movement building and critical inquiry. Each of these areas is informed by expertise in Critical Race Theory (CRT), Latinx Critical Theory (LatCrit), Radical and Tactical Cartography, and Chicana Feminist Epistemologies. Influenced and inspired by these varied, but interrelated frameworks, she and her mentor, Dr. Daniel Solorzano at UCLA, developed Critical Race Spatial Analysis (CRSA), a framework and methodological approach that seeks to deepen a spatial consciousness and expand the use of geographic information systems (GIS) in critical race research in education. As a result of this work, Dr. Vélez is featured in the second volume of ESRI Press’s Women and GIS: Mapping Their Stories. In addition, she has published in multiple academic journals including Educational Forum, Harvard Educational Review, The High School Journal, Association of Mexican American Educators JournalEducational Foundations, Seattle University Journal for Social Justice, Contemporary Justice Review, and Race, Ethnicity, and Education, and has contributed several chapters to edited anthologies. She is also a National Academies Ford Foundation Fellow and a Faculty Fellow with the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE), and previously a Spencer Foundation Research Training Grant Fellow.

Dr. Vélez pursued her graduate studies at UCLA, completing an MA and PhD in Social Science and Comparative Education with a specialization in Race and Ethnic Studies. She conducted her undergraduate studies at Stanford University, where she obtained a BA in Psychology. Before joining WWU, Dr. Vélez was a Post-Doctorate Research Fellow and Director of Public Programming at the Center for Latino Policy Research (CLPR) at UC Berkeley. At CLPR, she developed research partnerships with P-16 institutions, non-profit organizations, and grassroots groups connected to CLPR’s research priorities in the areas of education, immigration, and civic engagement. She co-led a multi-method community needs assessment in the historically Latinx Mission neighborhood of San Francisco as part of a U.S. Department of Education grant that resulted in an award of $30 million to provide cradle-to-career services for Mission residents.

In addition to her scholarly work, Dr. Vélez worked as a grassroots organizer with Latinx im/migrant families for over 15 years on local school reform efforts and adult literacy campaigns rooted in popular education. Alongside Dr. Longoria at WWU, she is currently organizing with teachers, administrators, and community members to collectively lead the development of Ethnic Studies in Bellingham Public Schools. In 2017, she was one of six faculty across Washington State awarded The Ormsby Award for Faculty Citizenship to recognize exemplary service in the public interest for her efforts to create systems through which institutionally underrepresented and underserved students can access higher education. In 2020, she was awarded Western Washington University’s Excellence in Teaching Award. Dr. Vélez is the proud daughter of a Mexican im/migrant mother and a Panamanian im/migrant father, whose journey to provide her with a quality education fundamentally inspires her work for social and racial justice.


  • Ph.D., Social Science and Comparative Education, specialization in Race and Ethnic Studies, UCLA
  • M.A., Social Science and Comparative Education, specialization in Race and Ethnic Studies, UCLA
  • B.A., Psychology, Stanford University

Research Interests

  • Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Latinx Critical Theory (LatCrit)
  • Radical and tactical cartography
  • Critical race-gendered epistemologies in educational research
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Family engagement in schools, particularly the activism of migrant mothers
  • Participatory action and community engaged models of research
  • Critical pedagogy and popular education
  • Ethnic studies in teacher education
  • Grow-Your-Own teacher pathways 

Representative Refereed Publications

Hayes, N., Calderón, D., Vélez, V. (forthcoming). Fugitivity within the university as Black-Pinay, Indigenous, and Chicanx Faculty: Cultivating an undercommons. In M. Ledesma & T. Buenavista (Eds.), First-Generation Faculty: (Re)Examining the Experiences of Faculty of Color in Higher Education. Rutgers University Press.

Vélez, V., Padilla, D., Jaramillo, D. (forthcoming). Trenzudas, truchas, y traviesas: Mapping higher education through a Chicana Feminist Cartography. In N. Garcia, C. Salinas, and J. Cisneros (Eds.), Trenzas of Possibilities: Concepts, Theory, and Methodologies of Latinx/a/o Students in Higher Education. Routledge.

Malagón, M., Perez Huber, L., Vélez, V. (forthcoming). Relationship-building among RaceCrits: Maintaining ethical ambitions within the coloniality of academia. Journal of Women and Gender in Higher Education. Special issue entitled, “Pathways to Healing BodyMindSpirit for Latina-Identified College Students, Administrators, and Faculty in Higher Education.”

Cervantes Gutierrez, A., Seares, B., Natachu, T., Spira, T., West, M., Vélez, V. (2020). The demands: Pasts, presents, and futures of Black, Indigenous, and Queer of Color feminisms. In G. Caliskan (Eds.), Gendering Globalization, Globalizing Gender: Post-Colonial Perspective (pp. 305-324)Oxford University Press.  

Roxas, K. & Vélez, V. (2019). Photovoice as micro-invitation: A case study of high school immigrant youth disrupting everyday forms of racism. The High School Journal, 102(4), 267-282.

Lees, A. & Vélez, V. (2019). Fugitive teacher education: Nurturing pedagogical possibilities in early childhood education. Educational Forum. Special issue entitled, “Emerging from Standardization: Learning to Teach for Cultural, Cognitive, and Community Relevance,” 83(3), 309-324.

Vélez, V. & Lees, A. (2019). M(other)work as radical resurgence: Nurturing survivance for women of color faculty. In P. Pérez (Eds.), In Our Own Words: Chicana and Latina Faculty Resisting and Persisting in the Academy (pp. 73-89). Routledge.

Vélez, V. (2019). Madres en lucha: Forging motherhood as political movement building across borders. In C. Cabellero, Y. Martínez-Vu, J. Pérez-Torres, M. Téllez, C. Vega, & A. Castillo (Eds)., The Chicana M(other)work Anthology: Porque Sin Madres No Hay Revolución (pp. 171-191)The Feminist Wire Book Series, University of Arizona Press.

Vélez, V. & Solorzano, D. (2019). Critical race cartographies: Exploring map-making as anti-racist praxis. In J. DeCuir-Gunby, T. Chapman, & P. Schutz (Eds.), Understanding Critical Race Research Methods and Methodologies: Lessons from the Field (pp. 150-165). Routledge.

Garcia, N., Lopez, N., Vélez, V. (2018). QuantCrit: Rectifying quantitative methods through critical race theory. Race, Ethnicity, and Education. Special issue entitled, “QuantCrit: Critical Race Quantitative Methodologies,” 21(2) 149-157.

Perez Huber, L., Vélez, V., Solorzano, D. (2018). More than “papelitos:” A QuantCrit counterstory to critique Latina/o degree value and occupational prestige. Race, Ethnicity, and Education. Special issue entitled, “QuantCrit: Critical Race Quantitative Methodologies,” 21(2), 208-230.

Covarrubias A., Nava, P., Lara, A., Burciaga, R., Vélez, V., Solorzano, D. (2018). Critical race quantitative intersections: A testimonio analysis. Race, Ethnicity, and Education. Special issue entitled, “QuantCrit: Critical Race Quantitative Methodologies,” 21(2), 253-273

Tefera, A., Rios Aguilar, C., Artiles, A., Voulgarides, C., Vélez, V. (2017). Developing a critical space perspective in the examination of the racialization of disabilities. In N. Ares, R. Helfenbein & E. Buendía (Eds.), Deterritorializing / Reterriorializing: Critical Geographies of Educational Reform (pp. 191-208)Sense Publishers.

Solorzano, D. & Vélez, V. (2017). Using critical race spatial analysis to examine redlining in Southern California communities of color – circa 1939. In D. Morrison, S.A. Annamma & D. Jackson (Eds.), Critical Race Spatial Analysis: Mapping to Understand and Address Educational Inequity (pp. 91-108)Stylus Publishers. 

Vélez, V. & Solorzano, D. (2017). Critical race spatial analysis: Conceptualizing GIS as a tool for critical race research in education. In D. Morrison, S.A. Annamma & D. Jackson (Eds.), Critical Race Spatial Analysis: Mapping to Understand and Address Educational Inequity (pp. 8-31). Stylus Publishers.

Vélez, V. (2016). Organizing for Change: Latinx immigrant parents, school decision-making, and the racial politics of parent leadership in school reform. Association of Mexican American Educators Journal (AMAE). Special issue entitled, “Latina/o Educational Leadership: Testimonios from the Field,” 10(3), 108-128.

Solorzano, D. & Vélez, V. (2016). Using critical race spatial analysis to examine the Duboisian color-line along the Alameda corridor in Southern California. Whittier Law Review, 37, 423-438. 

Roxas, K., Reed, W. A., Jaime, A. M., Vélez, V. (2015). Educating for democracy, social justice, and action:  Building programs for social justice throughout the national network for educational renewal. Education in a Democracy: A Journal of the National Network for Educational Renewal (NNER), 7, 10-36.

Covarrubias, A. & Vélez, V. (2013). Revisiting the educational pipeline “in space:” Critical race quantitative intersectionality that does not “let the numbers speak for themselves.” In M. Lynn & A. Dixon (Eds.), Handbook on Critical Race Theory in Education (pp. 270-286). Routledge.

Delgado Bernal, D., Calderon, D., Perez Huber, L., Malagón, M., Vélez, V. (2012). A Chicana feminist epistemology revisited: Cultivating ideas a generation later. Harvard Educational Review, 82(4), 513-539.

Pacheco, D. & Vélez, V. (2009). Maps, map-making, and critical pedagogy: Exploring GIS and maps as a teaching tool for social change. Seattle University Journal for Social Justice, 8(1), 273-302.

Malagón, M., Pérez Huber, L., Vélez, V. (2009). Our experiences, our methods: A research note on developing a critical race grounded theory methodology in educational research. Seattle University Journal for Social Justice, 8(1), 253-272.

Vélez, V. (2008). Challenging lies LatCrit style: A critical race reflection of an ally to Latina/o immigrant parent leaders. Florida International University Law Review. Special Issue entitled, “Critical Localities: Epistemic Communities, Rooted Cosmopolitans, New Hegemonies and Knowledge Processes,” 4(1), 119-143.

Vélez, V., Perez Huber, L., Benavides Lopez, C., De La Luz, A., Solorzano, D. (2008). Battling for human rights and social justice: A Latina/o critical race analysis of Latina/o student youth activism in the wake of 2006 anti-immigrant sentiment. Social Justice: A Journal of Crime, Conflict, and World Order. Special issue entitled, “Citizenship Surveillance of La Gente: Citizenship Theory, Practice, and Cultural Citizen Voices,” 35(1), 7-27.

Perez Huber, L., Benavides Lopez, C., Malagon, M., Vélez, V., Solorzano, D. (2008). Getting beyond the “symptom,” acknowledging the “disease”: Theorizing racist nativism. Contemporary Justice Review, 11(1), 39-51. 

Rogers, J., Saunders, M., Terriquez, V., Vélez, V. (2008). Civic lessons: Public schools and the civic development of undocumented students and parents. Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy, 3(2), 201-218.

Bastida, Y., Briones, C., Cruz, J., Diaz, M., Duarte, Y., Espinosa, Pedro J., Fonseca, L., Lopez Ledesma, L., Perez, R., Nygreen, K., Ramirez, Nidya Y., Rodriguez, I., Saba, M., Tapia, D., Vélez, V., Zamorano, N., (2007). Students informing now (S.I.N.) Challenge the racial state in California without shame… SIN vergüenza! Educational Foundations. Special issue entitled, “Challenging the Racial State in the 21st Century: Youth, Resistance, and New Possibilities for Democracy,” 21(1-2), 71-90.

Vélez, V., Dominguez Zamorano, N., (2007). Students informing now (S.I.N.) Challenge the racial state in California without shame… SIN vergüenza! Educational Foundations. Special issue entitled, “Challenging the Racial State in the 21st Century: Youth, Resistance, and New Possibilities for Democracy,” 21(1-2), 71-90. 

Research Reports & Policy Briefs

Vélez, V. (2017). Spatializing race and racializing space: Exploring the geographic footprint of white supremacy using critical race spatial analysis. CCRS Research Brief, No. 11, Center for Critical Race Studies at UCLA.

Perez Huber, L., Malagón, M., Ramirez, B., Gonzalez, L., Jimenez, A., Vélez, V. (2015). Still falling through the cracks: Revisiting the Latina/o education pipeline. Research Report, No. 19, UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center.

Perez Huber, L., Pulido Villanueva, B., Guarneros, N., Vélez, V., Solorzano, D. (2014). DACAmented in California: The impact of the deferred action for childhood arrivals program on Latina/os. Research Report, No. 18, UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. 

Perez Huber, L., Vélez, V., Solorzano. D. (2014). The growing educational equity gap for California’s Latina/o students. Latino Policy & Issues Brief, No. 29, UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center.

Vélez, V. & García Bedolla, L. (2012). Educational opportunity in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood: Assessing critical conditions for children and youth in Mission Promise Neighborhood Schools. Research Report, Center for Latino Policy Research, University of California, Berkeley. 

Guarneros, N., Bendezu, C., Perez Huber, L., Vélez, V., Solorzano, D. (2009). Still dreaming: Legislation and legal decisions affecting undocumented AB 540 Students. Latino Policy & Issues Brief, No. 23. UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center

Solorzano, D., Rivas, M., Vélez, V. (2005). Community college as a pathway to Chicana/o doctorate production. Latino Policy & Issues Brief No. 11, UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center

Recent Refereed Conference Presentations

Delgado Bernal, D., Pérez Huber, L., Salazar, C., Vélez, V., Vigil, D., Muñoz, S. (November 2019). A Plática on Humanizing Research Methodologies with Undocumented and Immigrant Communities. Presidential session. Presented at the Association for the Study of Higher Education Conference, Portland, Oregon.

Caballero, C., Lara, I., Martinez-Vu, Y., Mercado-Lopez, L., Perez-Torees, J., Tellez, M., Vega, C., Vélez, V. (November 2019). Maternal Epistemologies of Justice: Readings from the Chicana M(other)work Anthology. Presented at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference, San Francisco, California.

Turcott, H., Vélez, V., Spira, T., Calderón, D., Lovelace, V. (November 2019). Re-membering Revolutions: Feminist Solidarity, Abolitionary Politics, and Freedom Making. Presented at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference, San Francisco, California.

Longoria, A., Vélez, V., Baker-Sennett, J. (October 2019). Creating Counterspaces for Family and Community Engaged Teaching: Lessons Learned in a School-Based Teacher Pathway Program. Presented at the Northwest Conference on Teaching for Social Justice, Seattle, Washington.

Malagon, M., Perez Huber, L., Vélez, V. (May 2019). Relationship-building among RaceCrits: Maintaining Ethical Ambitions Within the Coloniality of Academia. Presented at the Critical Race Studies in Education Association Conference, Los Angeles, California.

Longoria., A., Chu, M., Korsmo, J., Vélez, V., Van Wingerden, C., Arsenian, M., Denton, J., Gemar, C., Harris, E., Smith, J. (April 2019). Building Critical Consciousness for Family and Community Engaged Teaching: Lessons Learning in a Middle Grades After-School Program. Presented at the Child and Youth Care in Action Conference, Victoria, Canada.

Longoria, A., Chu, M., Vélez, V., Baker-Sennett, J., Larson, B. (April 2019). Family and Community Engaged Teaching: A Systems Approach to Preservice Teacher Preparation. Presented at the American Educational Research Association Conference, Toronto, Canada.

Lees, A. & Vélez, V. (April 2019). Fugitive Teacher Education: Nurturing Pedagogical Possibilities in Early Childhood Education. Presented at the American Educational Research Association Conference, Toronto, Canada.

Perez Huber, L., Vélez, V., Solorzano, D. (April 2019). More than “Papelitos:” Using Quantcrit to Critique Degree Value and Occupational Prestige. Presented at the American Educational Research Association Conference, Toronto, Canada.

Vélez, V. & Lees, A. (April 2019). M(other)work as Radical Resurgence: Imagining Postcolonial Futures in Higher Education. Presented at the American Educational Research Association Conference, Toronto, Canada.

Vélez, V. (October 2018). Martin Luther King, William Bunge, URISA, and GIS for Equity and Social Justice. Presented at the GIS-Pro & CalGIS 2018 Annual Meeting, Palm Springs, California.

Garcia, N., Lopez, N., Vélez, V. (May 2018). Disrupting the Colonial Logics of Publishing: How Three Latinas (Re)defined the Process of Co-editing for Race, Ethnicity, and Education. Presented at the Critical Race Studies in Education Association Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Vélez, V. (April 2018). Mothering in an Era of Fascism, Racism, and the 45th Presidency #healingcurriculum. (Division B Presidential Session). Presented at the American Educational Research Association Conference, New York, New York.