The Orleans Parish School Board has selected Avis Williams, a member of the Chiefs for Change Future Chiefs leadership development program, as the next superintendent of NOLA Public Schools in New Orleans, Louisiana. She will assume the post when Chiefs for Change member Henderson Lewis, Jr., steps down at the end of this school year after seven years leading the district.
Currently, Dr. Williams is superintendent of Selma City Schools in Selma, AL. She brought the district out of state intervention and helped to increase academic achievement, boost the high school graduation rate, and improve school community culture.
“Dr. Williams succeeds some of the nation’s most thoughtful and innovative education leaders—chiefs and alumni of our network—who have, over the past decade, led critical efforts to improve education in New Orleans,” said Chiefs for Change CEO Mike Magee. “As superintendent of NOLA Public Schools, she will oversee a unique system grounded in policies that provide access to high-quality schools, support academic achievement, and prepare students for college and careers. Dr. Williams is a community oriented leader. I have no doubt she will work hand-in-hand with families to give every child the education and supports they need to thrive.”
Prior to her five-year tenure in Selma, Dr. Williams was assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for Tuscaloosa City Schools in Alabama. There, she developed the district’s instructional framework and oversaw efforts to improve teaching and learning. In addition, she served as the executive director of secondary curriculum and instruction for Guilford County Schools in Greensboro, NC. Throughout her more than 20 years of experience in education, Dr. Williams has held roles as a principal, assistant principal, classroom teacher, and coach. She was selected as the Alabama Alliance of Black School Educators Superintendent of the Year in 2020 and was a finalist for Alabama State Superintendent of the Year in 2019.
Dr. Williams is part of the sixth cohort of the Future Chiefs program, which identifies talented, diverse emerging leaders and integrates them into a community of practice. Future Chiefs receive coaching and mentorship from members of Chiefs for Change and participate in a variety of valuable learning opportunities. Twenty-seven, or 53 percent of, participants in the Future Chiefs program have become chiefs: 82 percent are leaders of color and 52 percent are women. Currently, 18 alumni or members of the Future Chiefs program lead school districts or state education departments. They oversee systems that collectively impact 2.9 million students, 199,000 teachers, and nearly 5,000 schools. These chiefs also oversee more than $34.2 billion in annual budgets.
In addition to her work in education, Dr. Williams is an entrepreneur and a former sergeant in the United States Army. She is involved in a number of professional and community groups and is a member of the ASCD National Board of Directors and president of the School Superintendents of Alabama Board of Directors. Dr. Williams earned her doctorate and an education specialist degree from the University of Alabama, a master’s from Alabama A&M University, and a bachelor’s from Athens State College.