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Director of the Oregon Department of Education

Director Dr. Charlene Williams

Director Dr. Charlene Williams  
“I have dedicated my life to education because I’ve seen firsthand how a positive student-teacher relationship can set a child on a successful path for the rest of their life. First and foremost, my goal will be to support students in every corner of the state so that they have the same chance to succeed. I recognize the significance of my appointment to this role and the immense amount of work we have ahead of us. I’m looking forward to building partnerships with students, educators and families across Oregon that advance equity and student success.”

Dr. Charlene Williams has deep ties to the Pacific Northwest. She spent the past seven years as an administrator in Southwest Washington public school districts, most recently as deputy superintendent at Evergreen Public Schools, where she has been supervising district leaders, leading the development of the district’s five-year strategic plan and launching a superintendent advisory committee.

Williams previously served as an assistant superintendent in the Camas School District from 2016 to 2022. She supervised principals, designed professional development opportunities, and facilitated district level meetings and trainings to better align district services and support to schools. This included facilitating the adoption of the district’s first equity policy, establishing affinity groups for staff and students, and the creation of community forums for Camas residents to discuss equity issues. She was a recipient of the Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) Award for promoting access, equity, and social justice for students.

Williams previously worked for seven years at Portland Public Schools, the largest public school district in Oregon. Her last role at the district was as the Senior Director of School Performance, where she helped redesign the teacher evaluation system in collaboration with the Portland Association of Teachers. She also worked with Peter Senge and the Waters Foundation to provide professional learning and resources for educators and leaders to implement systems thinking tools in their work.

She took on this role after serving as principal at Roosevelt High School in North Portland. While there she facilitated a collaborative grant writing process, resulting in a $7.7 million investment to transform the school, and led a focused effort to accelerate graduation rates and close the graduation gap for students of color, resulting in a promotion to campus principal. With her leadership, Roosevelt went on to significantly improve graduation rates and student performance. Williams led a collaborative team of teachers and administrators focused on closing the achievement gap across all academic areas for lower socioeconomic students and students of color through methods of acceleration. She earned multiple state and national awards for improving student achievement.

Williams arrived in Oregon in 1999 to become a math instructor, program coordinator and curriculum developer at Portland Community College. From 2002 to 2009, she served as the Director of Education and later principal at Rosemary Anderson High School, an alternative school that is part of the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center (POIC).

Read the entire press release from Governor Tina Kotek.

Dr. Williams became Interim Director in July 2023. Her appointment was approved by the Oregon Senate in September 2023.