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Team

Cindi Williams

Cindi Williams, PRINCIPAL

Cindi Williams has spent the better part of the last two decades working to build political will at the highest levels of state and federal government for equity driven changes in an intractable public education system. From the White House to the US Department of Education to the largest foundation in the world, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Williams has been on the front lines of education reform developing and executing communications strategies designed to advance effective public policy on issues ranging from the need for disaggregated student data, to the implementation of Common Core standards and assessments, to measuring teacher effectiveness, to closing the gap between parent confidence and the reality of student academic performance. All of these initiatives, executed with fidelity, share a common denominator of improving accountability and raising expectations for low-income students and students of color.

Williams currently leads the K-12 education practice for HCM Strategists. She and her team have the privilege of partnering with some of the boldest, most effective education organizations in the United States working to improve public education.

Prior to joining HCM Strategists in 2012, Williams served as the Communications Director for the US Program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Before joining the Gates foundation, Williams held several senior posts in the George W. Bush Administration including Senior Adviser to the US Secretary of Education, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Education for Communications and Outreach, and a Special Assistant in the White House Office of Public Liaison where she led outreach strategies on behalf of education, women, small business, and a special 9-11 initiative to create a US Afghan Women’s Council.

As a young woman, Williams worked on three Republican Presidential Campaigns and spent time at the RNC and as leadership staff in the US House of Representatives.

In her personal time, Williams has been one of the leading advocates for charter schools in Washington State. Beginning with the 1240 Ballot Initiative in 2011, she has remained at the center of the fight serving on the Executive Committee of the Charter Commission for three years, working diligently to keep them open during a Supreme Court challenge and, most recently, being re-appointed after a victorious legislative solution that will re-open the schools as charters in 2017.

Additionally, she has served as a member of the Bush Institute’s Education Advisory Council, the U.S. Afghan Women’s Council, Northwest Center Foundation Board and the Center for Reinventing Public Education. She is currently serving on the STAND for Children Advisory Board in Washington State. She resides in Clyde Hill, WA with her husband Tony and her two sons, Joshua and Jacob.

 

I am inspired to do this work by the ridiculously successful outcomes I have witnessed in high performing charter schools. At the US Department of Ed, the Gates foundation and now as a member of the Washington State Charter Commission, I have seen some of the best charter schools in our country serving students who had previously not had access to either high expectations or high quality instruction, and I know that if those two things were possible for every kid, our nation’s students would be thriving. I have seen the arcane, bureaucratic, adult-driven decision making that takes place in our worst school districts contrasted with the nimble, personalized, student-driven decision making that takes place in our best charter schools and networks, and the results are mind-blowing. The goal is not for every school to be a charter, but for the best of charters to show up in a system that has not changed significantly in 100 years.