Pitt | Swanson Engineering
Strategic Diversity Leadership: Preparing the Centennial Generation for Leadership in Changing Times
  • May 26, 2017 | 11:00 AM - 01:00 PM | Benedum 102

This plenary session will discuss the Centennial Generation and the need for higher education institutions to future proof themselves by embracing the new realities of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the academy.  Leveraging insights from the similarly titled book, Strategic Diversity Leadership: Activating Change and Transformation in Higher Education, and recent publication on the Centennial Generation, Dr. Williams will discuss topics like the perfect storm powering diversity in the new economy, the emergence of the Centennial generation, the challenge of leading change, the key to diversifying STEM, and the educational and organizational benefits that emerge by embracing inclusive excellence as a strategic imperative.  Grounded in more than 20 years of research, thought leadership with institutions globally, and real-world experience leading change efforts in higher education, non-profit, community, and corporate sector organizations, this session will provide clear insights, evidenced based practices, and actionable tactics for all in attendance.

Dr. Damon A. Williams is a scholar, leader, and educator passionate about making organization’s inclusive and excellent for all, creating equitable educational outcomes, and activating learning, youth development, and leadership in ways that are transformative and inspiring of new possibilities. Driven by a relentless curiosity and drive to achieve meaningful change efforts, Dr. Williams has authored or co-authored dozens of books, monographs, and articles that have influenced thousands worldwide. He is widely considered one of the nation’s most dynamic and innovative leaders winning the 2013 National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE) Inclusive Excellence Award for Leadership, and serving as invited keynote speaker and thought leader to more than 300 institutions globally.


His most recent books offering strategic guidance to leaders interested in the most cutting edge insights into leading diversity, equity, inclusion, and educational achievement efforts. Designed to be read alone or as companion books, Strategic Diversity Leadership: Activating Change and Transformation In Higher Education and The Chief Diversity Officer: Strategy, Structure, and Change Management (Co-authored with Dr. Katrina Wade-Golden) provide a sophisticated and nuanced approach to assist leaders with the overall process of leading diversity themed change and developing sound diversity infrastructures and strategies. As part of an ongoing effort to build diversity capacity in higher education, he also authored A Matter of Excellence: Strategic Diversity Leadership and Accountability in Higher Education a featured publication of the American Council of Education (ACE).

In September of 2013, he assumed a new role of global responsibility as the Senior Vice President for Programs, Training, and Youth Development for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. There are more than 4,000 Club affiliates in the United States, and on U.S. military bases in Europe and Asia, with a combined staff of 50,000 full- and part-time employees and annual revenues of $1.5 billion. In this role, he is the chief youth development and educational officer for the BGCA movement, as he leads the national program strategy for BGCA's strategic outcome areas—Academic Success, Good Character and Citizenship, and Healthy Lifestyles—with a focus on strengthening the club experience and creating a new generation of leaders that expand the pipeline into higher education.

Prior to joining the BGCA, he served for five years as associate vice chancellor, vice provost, chief diversity officer, and member of the educational leadership and policy analysis faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was the founding leader of the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Educational Achievement (DDEEA) a vertically integrated portfolio divisional infrastructure that includes the nation’s largest pre-college to college K-16 pipeline development program (n=1300 students), the world’s only hip-hop urban arts scholarship program learning community (Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives/First Wave), innovative campus-wide partnerships to enhance STEM achievement, leadership development of intercollegiate athletes (Beyond the Game), faculty diversification, research centers (WeiLab), and a four-city partnership with the National Posse Foundation.

He also served as assistant vice provost for multicultural and international affairs at the University of Connecticut, where he provided key leadership in the development of game changing STEM educational initiatives that resulted in a more than 92% program graduation rate and nearly tripled the numbers of historically underrepresented students completing degrees in these most difficult to diversify areas of study. He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Negro Education and is a four-time scholar in residence for the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) leading sessions at the 2 Greater Expectations and High Impact Practices (HIP) Institutes, and serving as an authoring contributor in their Inclusive Excellence Project. He has served as a two-time scholar in residence for prestigious American Council of Education (ACE) Fellowship Mid-Year Institute, lecturing on issues of strategic diversity leadership, retention, youth development, pre-college to college pipeline programs, faculty diversity, inclusion, and change management. In addition, he currently serves on the ACE Equity and Inclusion Advisory Board, the UC Berkeley Equity and Inclusion Advisory Board, the Gallaudet University Diversity Advisory, and the National Diversity Council Executive Board.


He received his PhD from the University of Michigan Center for the Study of Higher and Post-Secondary Education (CSHPE), where his focus was in the area of organizational behavior and management. He received his master’s degree in educational leadership and his bachelor’s degree in sociology both from Miami University.

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