An accomplished leader with numerous accolades for her work of 20-plus years in community colleges and higher education in North Carolina, Stelfanie Williams ’11 EDD says there is one thing that has remained constant throughout her career — love.
Love for her family. Love for education. And love for what she does.
Williams said her mother, Shirley, was her first teacher and she is fortunate that her grace, kindness and insight have and continue to guide her paths.
Having held many positions in higher education — dean, director, vice president and community college president — Williams is well-known for her work to encourage change in community colleges in response to workforce and community needs. And now she is the NC State College of Education’s 2019 Distinguished Alumna.
“I am honored to be selected as a distinguished alumna, and it is particularly joyous to be a recipient with so many other exceptional leaders in their fields,” Williams said as she accepted the College of Education’s Distinguished Alumni Award during the NC State Alumni Association’s annual Evening of the Stars Gala held as part of Red and White Week. “I commend all of the recipients this evening, and I want to acknowledge the numerous colleagues and peers with whom I have had the great benefit of working in the profession of education.”
Williams, who completed her doctorate in adult and higher education from the NC State College of Education in 2011, is currently vice president for Durham Affairs at Duke University. There, she leads and coordinates Duke’s community efforts in areas such as economic development, affordable housing, early childhood, K-12 and workforce education, student engagement and more.
Prior to her position at Duke, Williams served as president of Vance-Granville Community College, where under her leadership, the college experienced significant growth in academics and set records in fundraising and grant development. The N.C. State Board of Community Colleges selected her as the Community College President of the Year in 2018.
“Dr. Williams is a well-recognized leader in the state and nationally as an individual who has successfully led change in community colleges to respond to workforce and community needs, while developing the confidence of stakeholders across the spectrum to support causes she has championed,” NC State College of Education Dean Mary Ann Danowitz said. “Her recent move to Duke University as vice president for Durham Affairs speaks to not only her accomplishments, but the values that she holds dear – quality of life, education and community building.”
In 2017, Williams was appointed to Gov. Roy Cooper’s Governor’s Commission on Sound, Basic Education. She was also appointed to myFutureNC, a commission of education, business, nonprofit, government and faith leaders with a goal to ensure that more North Carolinians get post-secondary education.
“Love is the greatest power that we have. Love yourself for it is the beginning of all things, and we must have love within in order to share it,” Williams said. “Love one another for it is our command and the only healing balm for the distress in the world. And so that it might fulfill a more meaningful purpose, love the work that you do… I sure have.”