Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream (ATD) and Dr. Alex Johnson, Chair of the ATD Board of Directors, announced new leadership for the organization’s board of directors for 2023 and 2024.
Odessa College president, Dr. Gregory D. Williams, who has served on the ATD Board since 2018, and as vice chair since 2021, will succeed Dr. Johnson as chair of ATD’s Board of Directors. Odessa College in Texas, which Dr. Williams has led since 2007, has been an ATD Network college since 2009, is an ATD Leader College of Distinction and received ATD’s highest award, the Leah Meyer Austin Award, in 2018.
“ATD is pleased to have such a distinguished leader like Dr. Williams to guide us,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout. “He knows our work so well as a board member and as prolific practitioner of change management. He continually has shown ATD and other college leaders what it takes to make a community college an anchor institution in the community. His leadership has transformed the Odessa College campus, the lives of its current and future students, and the institution’s role in serving local industry.”
Dr. Williams succeeds Dr. Alex Johnson, president of Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C), who has served as Board Chair since February 2021. “ATD is grateful for Dr. Johnson’s exceptional leadership over the last two years,” said Dr. Stout. “He has helped advance the organization’s thinking around equity and opportunity and provided critical guidance as the organization and its partner colleges faced national crises that, have forced institutions to accelerate efforts to address structural racism, unemployment and economic upheaval, and the ongoing pandemic.”
Dr. Williams, in partnership with Achieving the Dream, has led Odessa College — where he started his own college career in 1983 — through many cycles of transformation to become a national model of continuous improvement and innovation. Odessa College was among the first to embrace alternative scheduling for students; resource sharing with other colleges and institutions; altruistic partnerships with local public schools; and comprehensive student support inside and outside the classroom. Building on the success of its strategic recruitment and retention efforts, the college continually reinvests its resources into student success, quadrupling its tutoring services in recent years and ensuring that all students have life coaches advise and support them inside and outside the classroom.
Dr. Williams noted how central ATD continues to be to its transformation work. “They force community colleges to look at themselves and the data that helps leaders and the college community be honest about what can be done to improve no matter how deep the challenges are, particularly now,” Dr. Williams said. “Our ATD coaches helped us disaggregate data so we were able to uncover core issues that needed addressing. It inspired us to be more effective and being able to look at ourselves using all types of data has continuously led us to explore innovations.”
Recently, the college implemented a $78 million campus infrastructure improvement project and a business partnership to encourage student participation in success-driven activities. The college twice received the Rising Star Award for excellence from the Aspen Institute.
Dr. Williams, a former psychology professor, also served previously as president of Western Texas College. He is a former chair of the Texas Association of Community Colleges and served on the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Board of Directors and their Executive Board. He serves on Aspen Institute Change Management Task Force and the Jobs for the Future Policy Leadership Trust for Student Success.
The new slate of ATD Board officers also includes Bennett College President Suzanne Walsh, JD, MA, who will serve as Vice Chairman; Alamo Colleges District Chancellor Dr. Mike Flores as Secretary; and Larry Kubal, Founder & Managing Partner of Labrador Ventures, continuing in his role as Treasurer.
“Our board includes nationally recognized leaders who bring vast and diverse experiences, and a lifelong commitment to educational equity and student success,” Dr. Stout said. “We are fortunate to have these leaders to help us advance our goals of transforming institutions into engines of innovation that support student success, educational equity, and social mobility for our graduates. They will continue to help ATD lead institutional transformation, helping our colleges redefine their purpose and demonstrate their value, and work across boundaries to develop the hidden talent pool of at-promise students and skill-seeking workers whose advancement is crucial to the future of the communities we serve.”
Achieving the Dream (ATD) is a partner and champion of more than 300 community colleges across the country. Drawing on our expert coaches, groundbreaking programs, and national peer network, we provide institutions with integrated, tailored support for every aspect of their work — from foundational capacities such as leadership, data, and equity to intentional strategies for supporting students holistically, building K–12 partnerships, and more. We call this Whole College Transformation. Our vision is for every college to be a catalyst for equitable, antiracist, and economically vibrant communities. We know that with the right partner and the right approach, colleges can drive access, completion rates, and employment outcomes — so that all students can access life-changing learning that propels them into community-changing careers. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.