Dr. Niki Sandoval currently serves as the Senior Strategic Development Manager in the Strategic Resource Planning and Implementation team at WestEd, which offers support through capacity-building, facilitation of professional learning networks, policy implementation strategies, and analysis of financial data, including data on the effective use of resources. She brings rich expertise to her work with state, regional, and local education agencies in aligning their education policies, strategies, and accountability practices to achieve more equitable outcomes for students.
Sandoval, along with Jennifer Folsom and the Council for Indigenous Relations, Careers, Leadership, and Equity (CIRCLE), received a WestEd Strategic Investment grant to conduct professional learning for WestEd staff and evaluate participant needs to build foundational awareness about the kinds of partnerships and practices that are well-matched to working with Indigenous communities.
Prior to joining WestEd, Sandoval was the Education Director for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians for more than 10 years. She worked in partnership with tribal government leaders to refine education policies and strategic educational investments, including school readiness, educational attainment, and career transitions.
She extends her leadership as a Trustee of the Santa Barbara Foundation and served two terms as a member of the California State Board of Education from 2013 to 2020. In addition, Sandoval is a Continuing Lecturer in the Department of Education at UC Santa Barbara, where she works to engage undergraduates in the examination of equity issues in education. She frequently speaks on the topic of tribal governance and systematic approaches to improving educational outcomes for Native students. Sandoval’s publications include a chapter titled “Tok’oy: a Circle of Promise for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians,” which discusses the power of Tribal government policies and investments to transform educational outcomes for Native students, in the anthology On Indian Ground: A Return to Indigenous Knowledge – Generating Hope, Leadership and Sovereignty through Education (2017).
Sandoval began her career at the J. Paul Getty Museum of Art and continued at the Smithsonian Institution, where she held the position of Assistant Director of Community Services for the National Museum of the American Indian.
Sandoval holds a PhD in Education from the University of California at Santa Barbara, a master’s in Museum Studies from George Washington University, and a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from Pepperdine University.