Get Inspired by Dr. Toni Williams, Excel Center University Heights Director

    [fa icon="calendar"] Feb 8, 2022 11:30:00 AM / by Jennifer Wade

    Jennifer Wade

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    Dr. Toni Williams joined Goodwill in 2021 to lead The Excel Center in University Heights, but her journey in education began long before now.

    “I grew up on the south side of Chicago, in an area where gangs and violence were dominant,” said Dr. Williams. “I failed myself when I was in school because I had not yet realized the value of education.”

    Married at 17, Dr. Williams traveled around the United States with her husband who was enlisted in the Air Force. Along the way, she started developing a passion for reading and learning.

    “I fell in love with words and quickly started to understand how I missed opportunities to advance when I was in school,” said Dr. Williams. “I decided to dedicate myself to help others in similar situations find those opportunities and take advantage of them.”

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    To help her achieve this new career goal, she began a lifelong learning plan which involved earning several prestigious degrees, including two associate degrees in English and education from Burlington College; a bachelor’s degree in English from Thomas Edison State College; a master’s degree in English from Fort Hays State University; and a doctorate in education from St. Thomas University. 

    As a result of her education and expertise, Dr. Williams taught for many years as a full-time English professor and also participated in various leadership roles, including Quality Enhancement Plan director.

    “Analyzing quality enhancement plans for schools allowed me to fully understand educational finances, strategy, outreach and improvement,” said Dr. Williams. “Participating in this work impacted my desire to go beyond the classroom into education leadership.”

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    After moving to Indiana with her family in 2018, she wanted to continue her mission of supporting students who experience barriers as she once had.

    “I wanted to work at The Excel Center immediately upon arriving in Indiana because I had heard they help remove barriers for students, such as offering onsite child care to women who are pregnant or parenting,” said Dr. Williams. 

    Now, as school director, Dr. Williams supports over 300 students and 30 staff members at the University Heights location in Indianapolis. She seeks new ways to change the lives of students and their families on a daily basis.

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    “There is a ‘yes’ in every room at The Excel Center. Students say ‘yes’ to the opportunities in front of them, and that’s what I love about this job,” said Dr. Williams. “I want to help provide the resources to our community that just were not there for me when I was in high school.”

    In just a few months at Goodwill, Dr. Williams has started building relationships with organizations and businesses across the Indianapolis community in order to strengthen the overall impact The Excel Center and its partners can have on individuals and their families.

    “Education doesn’t stop. I will never miss an opportunity to connect, build and grow ever again.”

    Topics: The Excel Center, Education

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