Professor Spotlight: Meet Omari Amili

A professor in Social Work and Criminal Justice.

Omari Amili is a lecturer in Social Work & Criminal Justice. He joined UWT as a new faculty member in fall quarter, 2021. Amili took some time to tell the Ledger about his background and interests.

Amili is a thirty-six-year-old father of six, from Seattle but he is currently living in Spanaway. While he is a professor at University of Washington Tacoma, he works full-time for a Juvenile Justice focused non-profit called “Choose 180” as the Director of Technical Assistance. 

He also spends his time mentoring black youth, who are considered at risk. This is through Pierce County Juvenile Court’s Pathways program. All of these things are in addition to being an author and public speaker. 

As a previously incarcerated professor, Amili was also able to tell the Ledger about his story and how that brought him to where he is today.

“I was a product of the school to prison pipeline. I grew up with parents who were addicted to drugs and dealt with abandonment, neglect, and chronic instability. I attended over fifteen schools growing up and first dropped out in the sixth grade. I dropped out for good during my high school years, but I was fortunate to get my GED,” Amili says.

Essentially, Amili was convicted of 30 felonies for bank fraud and after serving time in prison, he decided to enroll at Pierce College.

After earning his Associates Degree in Human-Services Substance Abuse at Pierce College, Amili transferred to UWT where he then earned his Bachelor’s in Psychology and IAS: Self & Society. After that, he went into grad school where his research focus was preventing recidivism through post-secondary education, earning his Master’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with Community & Social Change Focus.

Since then, Amili has begun his career as an educator and public speaker. He has also taught at other colleges, such as South Seattle College and Tacoma Community College before teaching at UWT.

Amili currently teaches “Intro to Criminal Justice” and in winter quarter he will be teaching “Police & Society.”

The Ledger asked Amili if he had any advice for UWT students. Amili stated, “Make sure your educational efforts are tied to career goals and never sell yourself short on what you are capable of achieving, no matter your background or family history.”

Amili concluded, “I love that UWT opens their doors to individuals from backgrounds like mine, which includes incarceration. I’m not the only faculty member here who has been incarcerated and many formerly incarcerated students come through here.”

Fun facts about Amili:

“I was once taken out to eat by Charles Barkley after randomly meeting him in downtown Seattle as a kid.” Amili says.

The book he is most known for is his life story titled, “Transforming Society’s Failure.”