Naomi Rainey-Pierson

Honorary Degrees


California State University, Long Beach​

Naomi Rainey-Pierson is an award-winning educator, philanthropist, entrepreneur and civil rights activist who has had a positive impact on the lives of thousands of community members, including many at-risk children.

Ms. Rainey-Pierson has been actively involved with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since the age of 14. A past vice president of the California State Conference NAACP, she has served as president of the NAACP’s Long Beach Branch since 2000. Under her leadership, the branch received the national Thalheimer Award, the NAACP’s top honor for outstanding achievements by branches and units.

From 1975 to 2003, Ms. Rainey-Pierson was an educator and administrator in the Long Beach Unified and Compton Unified school districts, rising to principal on special assignment at Long Beach Polytechnic High School. In 2009, she was appointed by former Governor Schwarzenegger to the California Advisory Commission on Special Education.

Ms. Rainey-Pierson has served on many volunteer boards and commissions, including those of Long Beach City College Foundation, St. Mary’s Medical Center, MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute and Long Beach Cancer League. She has received a number of special honors in recognition of her efforts, including Cancer League Hero of Long Beach, Soroptimist International Woman of the Year – Education, California Conference for Equality and Justice Humanitarian Award and City of Long Beach Martin Luther King, Jr. Peacemaker Award.

A proud alumna of California State University, Long Beach, Ms. Rainey-Pierson holds a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts, two master’s degrees in education and several teaching credentials. In 1987, the CSULB College of Education presented her with its Distinguished Alumna Award, and in 2010, she was the recipient of the CSULB President’s Distinguished Service Award. In 2012, in recognition of her service to and support of the university – including as a past member of the CSULB Alumni Association and as a donor to the Rainey-Pierson Scholarship – CSULB named Residence Hall C in Hillside College “The Naomi Rainey House.”

In recognition of her extraordinary achievements as an educator, activist and advocate – which have allowed her to serve as an example of CSULB’s aspirations for its diverse student body – the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University, Long Beach are proud to confer upon Ms. Naomi Rainey-Pierson the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.