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Jaia John ‘89

February 01, 2007

Jaiya John is the founder and executive director of Soul Water Rising, an educational mission devoted to improving human relations and overcoming prejudice. For 15 years he has traveled the country as a professional speaker, poet, author, and youth mentor. The author of the award-winning memoir Black Baby White Hands: A View From the Crib, he currently writes poetry, novels, plays for screen and stage, songs, and children’s books.

John graduated from Lewis & Clark College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and went on to earn a doctorate in social psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. He was a professor of social psychology at Howard University from 1995 to 1998 and associate director for the National Center on Permanency for African American Children from 1999 to 2001.

John is of African, Seminole, Blackfoot, and Cherokee descent; grew up among New Mexico’s American Indian and Latino communities; and studied Tibetan medicine in Nepal. Drawing on the spiritual and communal passions of these traditions and cultures, he takes a holistic approach to social issues. John shares a philosophy based on the interconnectedness of life as he consults with and teaches families, individuals, and organizations; creates youth literacy projects; and articulates his sense that each person has a unique purpose.

John lives and works in Silver Spring, Maryland.