The Rev. Dr. Rolanda Veronica Lee Watson embarked on her professional journey in 1990 as a digital group multiplexing technician for the U.S. Army, rising to become the satellite systems team supervisor in 1994 and the system control center team supervisor in 1997. Leaving the Army in 1998, she served as an administrative assistant for the Alaska Nurses Association from 2002 to 2004 and an executive sales assistant and associate for Morgan Stanley from 2005 to 2007. Subsequently, she joined the University of Alaska Anchorage, where she earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in 2010 and a Master of Business Administration in 2012. During her master’s studies, the Rev. Dr. Watson spent time as a veteran services representative with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from 2011 to 2012.
In 2012, the Rev. Dr. Watson joined the Federal Aviation Administration as a management and program assistant, a role she held until she joined the United States Department of Air Force in 2015. She spent a year with the department as a budget analyst before becoming a budget analyst for the U.S. Air Force Reserve from 2016 to 2020 and a music contractor for the U.S. Air Force from 2017 to 2020. It was during this period that she obtained a second Master of Business Administration from Liberty University in 2018. She has also notably achieved a level two financial management certification from the U.S. Department of Defense. Joining the Alaska Army National Guard in 2020, the Rev. Dr. Watson first served as the deputy financial manager until 2021 and then as the financial manager and comptroller from 2021 to 2022.
Since 2022, the Rev. Dr. Watson has served as the state budget officer with the Bureau of Land Management Alaska, part of the U.S. Department of the Interior. In this role, she brings her considerable expertise in financial management to handling all budget-related tasks for the bureau, which include overseeing 14 programs, ensuring all budgets are executed according to laws and regulations, and considering congressional directives and intent. She is particularly proud to have been the first African American person in a leading position in the budget office of the Bureau of Land Management Alaska as well as the first female African American comptroller of the Alaska Army National Guard. As she looks toward the future, the Rev. Dr. Watson hopes to continue her work with the Bureau of Land Management Alaska, eventually becoming a state director.
The Rev. Dr. Watson has made a name for herself through her all-inclusive leadership style, which places a strong emphasis on trusting the people she works with and delegating the work that needs to be done. Making the people who work for her a priority allows her to ensure that the people around her feel empowered. One of her major goals is to train her team well enough that when the time comes for her to leave her current position, there will be someone ready and able to replace her. Having accomplished much over the course of her career, the Rev. Dr. Watson attributes much of her success to her family, who have always been her greatest inspiration, from her parents, who instilled in her the value of discipline, to her drive to ensure a good life for her son.
Alongside her primary responsibilities, the Rev. Dr. Watson is an ordained minister and board-level certified fellow in Christian organizational leadership through ACTS. In 2020, she completed both a Doctor of Philosophy in biblical communications at the Atlantic School of Theology and a doctorate in ministry, with a focus on biblical exposition, at the Andersonville Theological Seminary. She remains active as a volunteer with her local church and makes twice-yearly visits to the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center in Anchorage to provide hope and guidance through ministry to the young women there. In her free time, the Rev. Dr. Watson enjoys gardening, playing the piano, music, spending time with the elderly, family time and ministering.