A headshot photo of a woman.

Malaika Williams

Malaika Williams has taken on a new role at the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) as the diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) coordinator in the Office of Special Education and Early Learning.

Williams, who has served as an education administration program manager at KDE since 2014, will focus on the needs of students with disabilities in the agency’s DEIB work. She also will help bring resources, guidance and support to Kentucky’s educators of students with disabilities. She started her new position as DEIB coordinator on May 16.

“Here at KDE, we want all of Kentucky’s students to have the supports they need to meet our academic standards and to reach their full potential as students, citizens and human beings,” said Kentucky Commissioner of Education Jason E. Glass. “Malaika will be instrumental in ensuring that we provide those necessary supports. She is already an asset to education in the Commonwealth and I am excited as she embarks on this new path to help each and every public school student to reach their potential.”

In this three-year DEIB position, which uses Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER) II for two years and American Rescue Plan-ESSER for the third year, Williams will collaborate with the DEIB Division in the Office of Teaching and Learning on their shared objectives.

“We are ecstatic to have Malaika Williams onboard with KDE’s diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging work. Her passion for students aligns with this work and we couldn’t be happier to have the opportunity to regularly collaborate with someone with such a keen eye on the value of student differences and experiences outside school and a desire to help students who are traditionally underrepresented,” said Damien Sweeney, director of the DEIB Division.

In her former role at KDE, Williams provided technical support and evaluation in areas like bullying intervention programs and initiatives, dropout prevention, alternative education programs and safe schools. She provided professional learning opportunities and technical assistance for teachers and administrators and collaborated with partnering agencies and stakeholders about safe schools, alternative instruction, closing of the achievement gap and novice reduction.

Williams will let her experiences and background guide her in this new challenge.

“Raised in a tumultuously blended household on the east side of Detroit in the late ‘80s, I seek opportunities to learn, stretch my thinking about the world and the people on it,” she said. “It is my hope and sincere aspiration to serve as a model for the journey we will embark on.

“My goal is to speak as required, to be still and listen so that I may hear you, to walk in gratitude and acceptance of my experiences so that I can see you, and to share freely with you. I am excited about this opportunity.”

Along with her experience at KDE, Williams has served as a Response to Intervention instructor at Georgetown Middle School (Scott County), director at Morning Star Child Care in Georgetown and director at Kentucky State University’s (KSU’s) Children of Promise Mentoring Program, which serves the children of incarcerated parents. She also was the director of KSU’s Onward/Upward Monitoring and Head Start Personnel Training programs.

KDE Deputy Commissioner and Chief Equity Officer Thomas Woods-Tucker said Williams will help move the agency forward in its DEIB efforts.

“Kentucky’s schools should be safe havens where all students and staff – regardless of their race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, national origin, or ability – feel safe, respected and welcomed,” he said. “KDE wants to support and assist all school entities in their DEIB efforts by breaking down barriers and helping to shape districtwide policies. Malaika will be instrumental in providing support and guidance to assist with our DEIB efforts.”

Williams has a bachelor’s degree in child development and family relations and a master’s in special education-learning and behavioral disorders, both from KSU. She is working on her doctorate at Bellarmine University.

She has served on the Community Childhood Council in Scott County, the Mentoring Children of Prisoners National Advisory Board, Jumpstart Read for the Record national campaign and the Jefferson County Head Start Community Council. She also served as a resource consultant for the Future Teachers Institute. Williams has been a presenter at numerous state and national conferences on issues such as early childhood literacy, mentoring children of prisoners, alternative strategies for educating at-risk students and cultural proficiency.

She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

A resident of Georgetown, Williams has three sons, a daughter and three grandchildren.