Class of 2022

A Brown, South Asian female sitting outside with an orange blazer over a dark blue shirt with lemons.

Saili S. Kulkarni

San José State University

We are proud to induct Saili S. Kulkarni into the Susan Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame.

Dr. Saili S. Kulkarni (She/Her) is an Associate Professor at San José State University. She earned a Ph.D. and M.S. in the field of special education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to her doctorate, she was a special education teacher focusing on the inclusion of students with disabilities in general education classrooms with same-aged peers in Oakland, California.

Dr. Kulkarni works to prepare teachers to understand the importance of an anti-ableist and anti-racist approach to education through her work with disability and race. Dr. Kulkarni has intentionally mentored and supported teachers of color (especially special education teachers of color). She has also engaged and supported students who identify as first-generation, and those who may be multiply marginalized across race, disability, social class, language, and gender through career development, research, and campus belongingness.

Dr. Kulkarni is one of the first recipients of the Spencer Foundation’s Racial Equity Grant which has funded collaboration between San José State and the University of Illinois Chicago to address discipline disparities for disabled children of color using the knowledge of families, teachers, and administrators across the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Dr. Kulkarni was also the inaugural BIPOC educator fellow for the Handbook of Teachers of Color and Indigenous Teachers supporting projects and initiatives to increase the diversity of the teaching workforce.

Together with colleagues across the United States including Amanda Miller, Emily Nusbaum, Holly Pearson, Lydia XZ Brown, Leroy F. Moore Jr., Lateef McLeod, Keith Jones, Brianna Dickinson, and Lisa “Tiny” Garcia, Dr. Kulkarni has worked to engage teacher candidates in a professional learning research project called Disability Centered Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies, which pairs teachers across California and Michigan with accessible, anti-ableist, anti-racist workshops led by disabled community activists and scholars. At San José State, Dr. Kulkarni has also worked with an interdisciplinary team to create an Intersectional Disability Studies Strand of the Institute for Emancipatory Education which has generated coursework and a speaker series featuring critical scholars, community activists, and youth engaged in dynamic, anti-ableist and anti-racist work.

She is incredibly honored to be among so many incredible disability mentors in the Class of 2022 and grateful for the support of her family, mentors, and friends.