Dr. Adriane Johnson-Williams’ purpose in life is dismantling–not fixing–current economic and governance structures that perpetuate white supremacy in south. She is dedicated to disrupting narratives that keep black people trapped in poverty. She is particularly interested in those Memphians living in poverty as well as those struggling to stay out of it. Dr. Johnson-Williams got her start in Memphis City Schools and is dedicated to improving the lives of children and families in her hometown. She is generally committed to fighting structural inequality regardless of whom it impacts but is distinctly focused on the impact on people in Memphis, TN.

Dr. Johnson-Williams was Director of Collaborative Action (Network Facilitator) with Seeding Success from its inception in 2013 through 2015. Seeding Success is a collective impact effort in Shelby County. She was tasked with facilitating the efforts of cross-sector partners to work together to improve cradle to career outcomes. Dr. Johnson-Williams’ interest in poverty and educational trajectory is the direct result of personal and familial experience.

Prior to returning to Memphis, Dr. Johnson-Williams was an assistant professor in the College of Human Resources and Education at West Virginia University. She taught courses in Social and Cultural Foundations and Education Policy. Her research interests included policies and institutions, specifically institutional agents. Her research interests also included P-16 cooperation, alignment, and governance; postsecondary preparation, choice, and persistence; parental engagement in secondary schooling; and community organizing and community engagement. Dr. Johnson-Williams has on ongoing interest in how the perspectives of poor and working class families (can) become a part of agenda setting, policy making, and policy analysis in education and social policy.

Williams received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics and French from Wellesley College in Wellesley, MA and Master of Education in Secondary Education from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

After working as researcher for the Council of the Great City Schools, an advocacy group for urban school districts, located in Washington, D.C., and returning to teach English as a second language at her alma mater, the Foxcroft School for girls in Middleburg, VA,  Dr. Johnson-Williams successfully pursued a Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a concentration in sociology and politics and a minor in policy analysis from the LaFollette School.