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Keynote Speaker:

Dr. Raja Bhattar, PhD



Dr. Raja G. Bhattar, PhD
Educator | Strategist | Artist




Session Title: 
Transformative Leadership: Equity-Minded Experiential Learning for an Ever-Changing World

Session Description:  Effective experiential learning requires intentionality and a clear understanding of outcomes for our communities. Through storytelling and reflections, this keynote offers insights and strategies on how experiential education leaders can incorporate equity, inclusion and belonging in all aspects of the work. At the 50th anniversary of NSEE, what are individual, interpersonal and institutional responsibilities to ground experiential education as a path to collective healing and liberation. While participants won't leave with a checklist for things to do, they will gain a few new frameworks and inquiry practices to enhance their work.

Biography:  Dr. Raja Gopal Bhattar (pronouns: they/them/theirs) is a nationally-recognized higher education leader, advocate, consultant and author. Previously, Dr. Bhattar served as the Assistant Provost and Executive Director of the Center for Identity + Inclusion at the University of Chicago, overseeing the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, LGBTQ Student Life and Student Support Services along with campus-wide climate and inclusion work. Raja has also held positions at the University of California – Los Angeles, American River College (Los Rios Community College District), University of Redlands, University of Vermont, Champlain College and Semester at Sea (University of Virginia). They hold a PhD and Master of Arts degrees in Higher Education and Organizational Change from UCLA, a Master of Education in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration from the University of Vermont and Bachelor’s in Psychology with a minor in Spanish Literature from Boston University.

Raja’s work straddles qualitative and quantitative approaches to intersectional identity development and the experiences of LGBTQ people, immigrants, first-generation students, international students and people of color in higher education. Raja’s research centers intersections of identity and sense of belonging, international students, HIV-AIDS in higher education, access and inclusion in global higher education and impact of diverse staff and faculty on student experience and campus climate. They have authored numerous articles and book chapters and present regularly at national and regional conferences. Raja has been featured in The Advocate Magazine, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, India Abroad Magazine, Hinduism Today Magazine, the Vermont Quarterly and many other news outlets. Dr. Bhattar is an inaugural Racial Equity Fellow with InterFaith Youth Core’s Interfaith America initiative. 

Raja has served in various leadership roles for NASPA – Student Affairs Professionals in Higher education with the Asian Pacific Islander Knowledge Community, Gender and Sexuality Knowledge Community, Region I, Region VI, Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice Division and various other committees. They also served as the People of Color constituency chair and Institute Chair for the Consortium of LGBT Resource Professionals in Higher Education.

Dr. Bhattar comes from a lineage of Hindu spiritual leaders and is a proud queer and gender non-conforming person of color, 1.5 generation immigrant, first-generation college student and spiritual practitioner. They approach this work with a passion for sustainable organizational impact and a bold vision of equity and access through social change.