News Release

Kenita Williams Named Chief of Staff at Southern Education Foundation

MEDIA CONTACT:  Gretchen Wright,, (202) 421-5830

February 17, 2021 (Atlanta, Georgia)—The Southern Education Foundation (SEF) is pleased to announce that Kenita Williams, who has served as the organization’s Director of Leadership Programs for the last four years, will now also take on the role of Chief of Staff. In this additional role, Williams is responsible strengthening existing programs, leading key strategic initiatives, and supporting SEF’s President and CEO in the development and management of organizational strategy and operations.

“I am delighted that Kenita has agreed to take on this crucial role,” said Raymond Pierce, President and CEO of the Southern Education Foundation. “We find ourselves at a time of great change and great possibility to advance equity not only in the South but across the nation. Her strategic thinking, political experience, and deep knowledge of education policy and practice are invaluable in helping SEF achieve its goal of ensuring that every student in the South has access to the high-quality education that will help them succeed in life.”

Williams has served as Director of Leadership Development at SEF since 2017. Prior to joining the organization, she held numerous positions in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Those include Partnerships Manager for Atlanta Public Schools, Senior Program Manager for Public Policy at the Southeastern Council of Foundations, consultant for JFM Consulting Group, and legislative correspondent for then-Senator Barack Obama. Williams is also Teach for America alumna and taught third grade in Atlanta for three years.

She will continue to oversee SEF’s leadership development portfolio, creating and managing fellowship programs and resources designed to support the advancement of policies and practices that will lead to a more equitable education system throughout the South.

Williams earned her B.A. in Political Science and History from Yale University, her Master of Public Policy from the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and a teaching certificate from Georgia State University. She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in Education from Johns Hopkins University.


Originally founded in 1867 to educate Black children and children from low-income families in the South, the Southern Education Foundation also has a long history of developing leaders in education and was a pivotal source of research and data to support legislation and litigation aimed at fighting inequity in education during the civil rights era. The organization today conducts leadership development, research, and advocacy to improve educational opportunities for low-income students and students of color and achieve educational equity in the Southern U.S. It is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Find out more at