Prof. Kouslaa Kessler-Mata

Kouslaa Kessler-Mata

Associate Professor

Full-Time Faculty


Kouslaa Kessler-Mata (yak tityu tityu Chumash and Yokut) has taught at USF since 2007. She completed her BA in American Studies, with a minor in American Indian Studies, at San Francisco State University, and her PhD in Political Science from the University of Chicago. She is a graduate of the Institute for Recruitment of Teachers program at Phillips Academy and the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs in San Francisco. Her book, American Indians and the Trouble with Sovereignty (Cambridge University Press, 2017), examines the challenges facing tribal governments in working with state and federal actors. 

Dr. Kessler-Mata teaches courses on public administration, political theory, and American Indian Politics. She serves on the Indigenous Student Identification Project Research Steering Committee for the American Institutes of Research and as a unit editor for Oxford University Press for "Racism by Context", a part of Intersections. She previously worked for California Indian Legal Services and the National Congress of American Indians, and presently serves on the Governor’s California Truth and Healing Council and the American Indian Education Oversight Committee for the California Department of Education. She is the Secretary/Treasurer for the Board of Directors for the California Indian Museum and Cultural Center.


  • American Indian politics
  • California Indian politics

Research Areas

  • Self-determination
  • Indigenous sovereignty
  • Federalism


  • Co-Chair, Indigenous Engagement and Native Student Success Working Group
  • Member, California Indian Studies and Scholars Association
  • Member, American Indian Education Oversight Committee, California Department of Education
  • Member, California Truth and Healing Council, Office of Governor Newsom


  • University of Chicago, AM, PhD in Political Science
  • San Francisco State University, BA in American Studies, Minor in American Indian Studies

Prior Experience

  • Legislative Fellow, National Congress of American Indians, Washington DC
  • Fellow, Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs in San Francisco, CA
  • Institute for Recruitment of Teachers, Andover, MA

Awards & Distinctions

  • USF Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership Award, 2023