Community Perspectives: Todd Williams


Welcome to Community Perspectives.

My name is George Marquez, the District Director for Human and Organizational Development.

Today it's my honor to be speaking to Mr. Todd Williams, Executive Director for commit!


Mr. Williams, thank you for taking the time to speak with me, and for showing your perspective on Dallas County, with us.

What are the greatest challenges you see facing Dallas County today?

Todd Williams: I think that the biggest challenge we have is that we have roughly 14% of our children graduating our K-12 system ready for the next step. Versus an 84% graduation rate.

Roughly 30% of our kids who enter our community colleges are requiring remediation.

They often have to take those classes without getting college credit and sometimes have to borrow money to pay for that.

I think just the general sense of academic achievement is not what we want it to be, there's a lot of great people working hard at it but that's certainly a challenge for us.

And that challenge really starts early for us.

It starts as early as pre-K, in terms of maximizing the number of children who are getting that type of quality pre-K education that allows them to be ready for the next step in K through 12.

I think one of the other challenges that we have, is that we have a lot of great people who are working together, but were often siloed from each other.

And I think it's really important that we do everything we can to basically bring a lot of expertise to the table that I know exists in our community.

And that make sure that we bring data to make sure we understand where the biggest leaks in our educational pipeline are.

And then really collectively work together to figure out how to align all the resources to benefit kids, that will solve the biggest leaks in our educational pipeline as quickly as possible.

GM: What do you see as Dallas County's greatest strengths?

TW: I think, uh, I'd say it's threefold.

I think that we have a lot of people who are very focused on the right things.

I think that they want to serve kids, both in the educators as well as the non-profits.

I think we have an incredibly strong philanthropic community, that knows that education is a lynch pin for our success, and want to work and support anything they can, in that area to make our educational outcomes, better.

And I think we also have a really strong sense of innovation.

And entrepreneurial can do spirit within our community, that I think is going to make a big difference for us as we go forward.

GM: What opportunity do you see on the horizon?

TW: I think the two biggest opportunities that we have in front of us that I think are going to make the, the biggest difference are really twofold.

One, significantly, addressing pre-k education.

Making sure that we're solving the issues that we have in front of us of the lack of parental awareness. The lack of classrooms, and the lack of quality educators, specifically trained in early childhood in front of our kids.

If we get that right, I think it’s going to make a transformative difference in our community.

I think the second area that we really want to focus on, is really the importance of our teacher pipelines.

We want to make sure that we are delivering to our community, from our educational providers.

The quality of educators that our school systems want, that they provide adequate feedback on that.

And that we have a system of continuous improvement within those schools of education, because there is nothing more important than the quality of the classroom instructor in front of each and every child.

And if we collectively focus on that as a community, I think it'll make a big difference.

GM: If you could build Dallas County from day one, what would it be?

TW: I think it would be a system where we own the outcome for each and every child, where we believe that their zip code did not determine their destiny, where we had high expectations for every child.

We had appropriate level of data and an understanding of what their needs were.

And we had a system that was setup, to make sure that those needs were addressed, timely and quickly.

And that ultimately we had a system that worked together seamlessly.

Where we felt like our job was to make sure that every child could make their life what they wanted to.

And education was a huge component of it, and that we had a system that was effectively very child-centered, and we were all working collectively together to make sure that their outcomes were what we wanted them to be.

GM: Do you have any last thoughts that you would like to share with us?

TW: I think we believe that education is absolutely critical to our nation's and our community's success.

And I think that we have the talent, we have the philanthropic capital, and we have the will to make it happen.

We just need to work together in a much more cohesive fashion, but I absolutely know that we can do this together.

GM: Mr. Williams, once again thank you for sharing your time today with us. We sincerely appreciate it.