In October 2022, Wendi Williams, Ph.D., joined Fielding as its Provost and Senior Vice President. Since that moment, she has quickly adapted to her role in collaboration with members of the Fielding community.
Provost Williams brings with her two decades of academic and administrative experience, applying her work as a psychologist, advocate, and educator at the intersection of education and psychology to her scholarship and leadership praxis. Previously, she was the Dean of the School of Education at Mills College and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Bank Street College, Graduate School of Education. In these positions, she cultivated equitable contexts for students, staff, and faculty development while attending to structural and cultural change to support important curricular and program development.
Since her first day in the position, Provost Williams has embarked on a listening tour, where she continuously learns the inner and outer workings of the university. She has started to form goals as provost and for Fielding in general and outlined some of her thoughts at a University Town Hall in mid-October.
“I think that this community is ready for really deep, transformative equity work,” Provost Williams said. “As an educational leader, I have had a number of opportunities that have appeared to be ready for that, but I might have been the only one or one of a few people in the position to do that work. At Fielding, I join a group of active, engaged, intellectually vibrant colleagues who are justice-minded, and I love it! I want to be in a space pushing forward an agenda we all can be proud of, and the one that serves as a model for other human development organizations and institutions.”
With myriad thoughts and goals, she wants to ensure that she is helping Fielding meet the moment of pressing issues and needs. Specifically, she wants to work toward addressing the overall Fielding experience with equity and access, health and wellness, and more.
“What I find important and useful is that I’m entering on the momentum of a very strong legacy,” Provost Williams said. “That stands out to me as an incredible resource that we have as an institution and that I have as a provost. There’s a lot of potential to expand on the work Fielding has always done in the fields of psychology, leadership, human development, and other areas in this very interesting moment in our society. I think there’s this way in which Fielding is uniquely positioned to speak to some of the most pressing issues and areas of required transformation for our world — at home and abroad. I’m excited about how we can engage students, alums, and faculty in some of the most pressing issues of the day — and help our public understand the ways that our areas of practice and scholarly expertise are vital for our shared future as a global learning community.”
Since her first foray into higher-education leadership positions, Provost Williams reimagines leadership schools of thought and how things were always done, both at an individual level and in partnership with others.
The heart of Provost Williams’s work is centered on societal challenges that can be enriched by diverse women’s unique perspectives and approaches to leadership. Her recently published work is WE Matter!: Intersectional Anti-Racist Feminist Interventions with Black Girls and Women, and forthcoming books, Black Women at Work: On Refusal and Recovery and The Majestic Place: The Freedom Possible in Black Women’s Leadership. She also created the “She Been Ready! The Podcast,” where she hosts conversations centered on elevating Black women’s liberatory leadership praxis through their stories of leadership and life.
“The practices of Black women as leaders isn’t as widely known and held up,” Provost Williams said. “So, I thought, ‘Let’s talk to women who are leaders. Let’s talk to folks who have an opinion and experience with Black women in leadership — and Black women in general.’ To be honest, it’s become a much more diverse space because, like for all leaders, when it is happening well, Black women are not leading in isolation.”
Away from her professional life, Provost Williams is an avid bibliophile, with self-professed stacks of books — especially fiction — throughout her home. She is also known as “Auntie Wendi” to her nieces, nephew, and godsons, a role that she holds with the highest esteem.
Get to know more about Provost Williams’ vision for Fielding in the below video.
More About Provost Williams:
Psychologist, advocate, and educator, Dr. Wendi Williams applies her work at the intersection of education and psychology to her scholarship and leadership praxis. Williams completed undergraduate studies at the University of California, Davis where she majored in psychology and minored in African and African American Studies. She completed graduate study at Pepperdine University (MA in Psychology) and Georgia State University, where she earned a doctorate in counseling psychology, with an emphasis in multicultural psychology and family systems.
In a career spanning two decades, Williams’ work delves into the contours of Black women’s and girls’ inner lives, leveraging deep knowledge of their interiority as source content for the development of culturally-responsive educational and psychological interventions. Applying critical lenses of liberation psychology and Womanist, Black, and Intersectional feminist theoretical frames with an equity-centered systems power analysis, Williams develops and implements educational, wellness, and leadership intervention programming with individuals, groups, and organizations. Her work attends to the individual and organizational transformation required to foment the optimal growth and development of diverse women and girls, while attending to the organizational and societal systems-level change required for sustainable equity practice.
As a scholar-practitioner, Dr. Williams’ research and practice inform her leadership practice in higher education contexts. Most recently, in her role as Dean of the School of Education at Mills College, and prior as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Bank Street College, Graduate School of Education, she utilized her role to cultivate equitable contexts for student, staff, and faculty development while attending to structural and cultural change to support important curricular and program development. Prior to these roles she provided academic leadership as program coordinator and department chair for the Counseling and School Psychology at Long Island University in Brooklyn, NY where she also served as Vice President of the University Faculty Senate and Representative of the School of Education on the university’s Union Executive Committee.
Dr. Williams has made significant scholarly contributions in the field through authored and edited works as well as conference presentations of her research and analysis, and professional development curricula and workshops. With her recently published edited book, WE Matter!: Intersectional Anti-Racist Feminist Interventions with Black Girls and Women and forthcoming books, Black Women at Work: On Refusal and Recovery and The Majestic Place: The Freedom Possible in Black Women’s Leadership, she keeps these conversations in the discourse. Of late, she has become more interested in “diminishing the paywall” between the work she engages for and about diverse girls’ and women’s lives and the actual communities that can benefit from this work. To this end, she engages in popular media as well as scholarly journals and books to ensure her work is accessible to members of the public and the professionals who will serve them.
Dr. Williams leverages her background and platform to lead organizations that support the optimal development of vulnerable communities, especially societal challenges that can be enriched by diverse women’s unique perspectives and approaches to leadership. Some examples include serving as co-chair of the Board for Girls Leadership, an organization that teaches girls to exercise the power of their voice through programs grounded in social-emotional learning; and serving in multiple roles, including as president for the Society for the Psychology of Women (SPW), Division 35 of the American Psychological Association (APA). She is currently their representative on the APA Council of Representatives.
In her down time, Dr. Williams enjoys time at the ocean and hiking among the redwoods local to her Bay Area home in Oakland, CA. A true bibliophile and lover of words, she is an avid reader and occasional poet, with a deep appreciation for stories that center the inner lives and intimacies of Black, Indigenous and Folx of Color characters. Among all the titles and roles she holds, she is most honored to be “Auntie Wendi”, which allows her to dote on her nieces, nephew, and godsons coming of age in Arizona, New York, Washington D.C., and Japan. Nurturing the lives of these children while being a generous human to her family and community rank among her highest life priorities.
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