Doris Terry Williams

Executive Director,
Rural School & Community Trust(Rural Trust)


Doris Terry Williams is Executive Director of the Rural School and Community Trust (Rural Trust). The Rural Trust is the leading national non-profit organization addressing the crucial relationship between good rural schools and thriving rural communities. Working in some of the poorest, most challenging rural places, the Rural Trust involves young people in place-based learning linked to community and economic development, provides training and support to improve the quality of teaching and school leadership, conducts research and analysis of policies related to rural education, advocates for appropriate state educational policies, and addresses the critical issues of rural school funding, quality education and equity.

Previously Assistant Dean and Associate Professor in the School of Education and Director of University-School Partnerships at North Carolina Central University, Dr. Williams led the institution’s teacher education program reform that included establishing a professional development network of rural and urban school districts; designing and implementing a mini-grant program for teacher-led action research; improving and expanding early clinical experiences; developing year-long internships for pre-service teachers; redesigning and directing university/public school partnerships; developing graduate program curricula, including a teachers-as-leaders tract for school-based mentors and clinical supervisors; and developing a candidate assessment plan for pre-service and novice teachers.

Williams co-founded, and subsequently directed, the North Carolina Center for the Study of Black History (a major civil rights archives, now a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill Southern History Collection), and was a founder of a 100,000 watt public radio station, WVSP FM. She established the Warren Service Corps, a service organization of young people to provide year round educational and cultural programs for rural youths; the Warren Summer Scholars Program; and Pen & Press United advertising and publishing firm. She has produced and hosted a radio series on minority economic development and served as lead consultant, trainer, and national expert for numerous state and national school and community reform efforts. Williams has also authored numerous publications on topics ranging from early childhood education and care to reform of K-16 education.

Williams’ experience also includes ten years as director of an adult education program; associate director for the North Carolina Health Manpower Development Program; adjunct and visiting professor for Shaw University, Ohio University, and North Carolina State University; city planner and technical writer for Warren Regional Planning Corporation (Soul City, NC, new town development); and writer/editor for North Carolina Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Williams completed 12 years of service on the Warren County, NC, Board of Education, five as Board chairperson. She currently serves on multiple boards and advisory groups, including the Board of Trustees of Vance-Granville Community College, and was recently a Commissioner on the U.S. Department of Education’s Commission on Educational Equity and Excellence. She holds EdD and MEd degrees from North Carolina State University and an AB degree from Duke University.


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