Jesse Mills

Ethnic Studies Department Chair and Professor Jesse Mills sees changemaking as bottom-up equity and justice work in the community and also transformative decolonizing internal work within oneself. Working in a department that engages society's views and perspectives, there's always room for growth in pedagogy as well as the self. In Dr. Mills's personal view, changemaking does not always accomplish its goal, or "win," as deep-rooted inequities are not transformed easily or in flash episodes. That is why Professor Mills believes that for change to be successful, it must start from the bottom, stay grounded in the bottom, and work its way up. It means that the perspective of those who are affected by the issue at hand must be centered by those administering the change so that the impact is made on a larger scale.

Dr. Mills has taken this methodology to heart while currently serving as the Board of Directors chairperson for the United Taxi Workers of San Diego. The main goal of this group is to assist San Diego taxi drivers, the vast majority of whom are immigrants and refugees from places such as East Africa, with improving their work conditions and economic standing. Often these men and women are often the victim of unfair business regulations, discrimination, and harassment. Recently, the city of San Diego passed legislation lifting the cap on permits that allows drivers to become owners of their own taxicab business. It was a major victory for driver-led equity and justice changemaking work that Dr. Mills appreciates being able to support.