Dr. Sara Watson is the founder of Watson Strategies, a consulting firm specializing in designing effective advocacy campaigns, with a special focus on the role of philanthropy and public-private partnerships. Most recently she was the Senior Director, Policy at the Bainum Family Foundation where she led a portfolio of grants to reduce racial and economic inequity through advocacy for early childhood programs in Washington, D.C.

Previously she was the founder and Global Director of ReadyNation/ReadyNation International, a unique business membership organization supporting executives to be champions for children from prenatal to young adulthood. She was a Senior Officer at The Pew Charitable Trusts, where she led a ground-breaking national advocacy campaign for prekindergarten, contributing to doubling state and federal spending. She has also been a Senior Vice President at America’s Promise and a Policy Analyst for the Washington State Family Policy Council. Her educational background includes M.P.P. and Ph.D. degrees from the Harvard Kennedy School and a B.A. from Carleton College. In her volunteer life she is a Master Emergency Medical Technician for the local fire department and a board member of Voices for Children Montgomery.


Sixteen Grantmaking Characteristics to Effectively Support Public Policy Advocacy

Posted on July 6, 2022 by Sara Watson, Alliance for Justice

illustrated image of US Capitol building in red on a blue background; Bolder Advocacy report cover
Created by Bolder Advocacy in partnership with Dr. Sara Watson, this resource outlines the sixteen characteristics of grantmaking that best supports effective policy education and advocacy.  Grantmaking that effectively supports the difficult task of informing and advancing policy change has specific characteristics. Learn about the 1) technical funding structures, 2) the content of what gets funded, and 3) considerations across… Read More

Families Funding Advocacy and Policy Change

Posted on July 17, 2020 by Julie Fernandes, Sara Watson, David Addams

Hands in air_protesting_advocacy
Advocacy is an important tool for funders seeking to address systemic inequalities ingrained in our policies and practices, and it can be the sole focus of an organization or an additional strategy employed to create lasting change. Many families pursue advocacy because of a founder’s interest or legacy, while others have introduced advocacy into their grantmaking portfolio after listening to… Read More