NSBA Rural Education Summit - April 5 - New Orleans

Keynote Speaker


Navigating Diversity in Rural Education

Sheneka M. Williams

Dr. Sheneka Williams
Professor and Chairperson, Department of Educational Administration
Michigan State University

Sheneka M. Williams (Ed.D., 2007, Peabody College of Education and Human Development, Vanderbilt University) is a professor and chairperson of the Department of Educational Administration at Michigan State University. Prior to accepting a position at Michigan State, Dr. Williams spent the first 13 years of her academic career at the University of Georgia.

Having grown up in rural Alabama, Dr. Williams has a keen interest in the lives and educational experiences of African Americans who live in rural contexts. Hence, her current research has two main foci: rural education and school desegregation. Her rural research is published in a co-edited book, Educational Opportunity in Rural Contexts: The Politics of Place, and she has recent works published in AERA Open and a forthcoming chapter in the Handbook of Rural Education. She also has published a chapter titled “Strong Rural Learners” in Cultivating Rural Education: A People-Focused Approach for States. Dr. Williams has also been a guest contributor to podcasts that feature rural education.

Her school desegregation research has been published in Educational Policy, Peabody Journal of Education, and Urban Education. In 2019, she guest-edited an issue of the Peabody Journal of Education that commemorated the 65th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. Her research and contemporary perspectives concerning Brown also have been highlighted in interviews with NPR’s On Point, and Silence is Not an Option, a CNN podcast hosted by Don Lemon.

Dr. Williams is the vice president for Division L of the American Educational Research Association, where she also serves on the nominating committee for the Rural Special Interest Group. Dr. Williams consistently serves the profession as a mentor, reviewer, and advisor to numerous grant projects, editorial boards, colleagues, and students.

Dr. Williams prides herself on being a scholar and a leader who sees her work as part of the greater good.