Salem, Ore. — Governor Tina Kotek has appointed Dr. Charlene Williams as the next Director of the Oregon Department of Education and Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction. Dr. Williams, a highly experienced teacher and public school administrator with 30 years of experience, will become the first Black woman to lead the state’s education agency.
Dr. Williams will assume the role of interim director on Monday, July 10, and her confirmation as permanent director will be taken up by the Oregon Senate in September. Governor Kotek expressed confidence in Dr. Williams’ leadership abilities and described her as a transformative and inclusive education director who will work towards ensuring every child’s success and access to a high-quality education.
Dr. Williams has extensive experience in the Pacific Northwest, having served as an administrator in Southwest Washington public school districts for the past seven years. She held positions such as deputy superintendent at Evergreen Public Schools and assistant superintendent in the Camas School District, where she focused on equity issues and received recognition for promoting access, equity, and social justice for students.
Previously, Dr. Williams worked at Portland Public Schools for seven years, serving as the Senior Director of School Performance and later as the principal at Roosevelt High School. During her tenure, she led efforts to improve graduation rates and close the achievement gap for students of color, resulting in multiple state and national awards for her achievements.
Dr. Williams started her career in Oregon in 1999 as a math instructor and program coordinator at Portland Community College. She later became the Director of Education and principal at Rosemary Anderson High School, an alternative school affiliated with the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center (POIC).
Colt Gill, Director of the Oregon Department of Education, expressed confidence in Dr. Williams’ commitment to serving all students and striving for equitable access to education. Educators and leaders in Oregon also praised Dr. Williams’ ability to connect with people, transform school culture through collaboration, and advocate for schools and communities.
Governor Kotek’s education team conducted a national search for the ODE director position, involving interviews with various stakeholders before Dr. Williams was selected for the role.