Rochelle L. Williams, Ph.D., scientist, engineer, executive, and advocate for inclusive academic and workplace environments, has been appointed senior director of Programs for the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Dr. Williams brings 11 years of professional experience in the nonprofit sector and higher education to the post, most recently from the Association for Women in Science, in Washington, D.C., where she had been project director and co-principal investigator for the ADVANCE Resource Coordination Network since April 2018. Her appointment with NSBE was effective Nov. 18.
Founded in 1975, NSBE is a 24,000-member, student-led organization devoted to increasing the representation of black students and professionals in the field of engineering. NSBE has embraced an ambitious 10-year strategic goal: to work with its partner institutions in academia to grow the number of black bachelor’s degree recipients in engineering in the U.S. to 10,000 annually by 2025, up from 3,501 in 2014. At present, black graduates comprise only about 4 percent of the nation’s new engineers produced each year. NSBE’s programs designed to increase the STEM proficiency of K–12 and college students have helped put that number on an upward trajectory, and Dr. Williams hopes to assist in continuing the trend.
“I’ve built my career with one goal in mind: to change the world one woman and black engineer at a time, unapologetically,” Dr. Williams said. “I’m excited to join NSBE and build a culture of continuous improvement that enables us to systematically expand our efforts to achieve our vision for 2025.”
In addition to her work with the Association for Women in Science, Dr. Williams’ track record includes successful tenures as a manager and director for ABET; as a science and technology policy Fellow with the National Academy of Engineering; and as a research scientist with Prairie View A&M University’s Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost, Academic Affairs. Dr. Williams has three academic degrees: a Bachelor of Science in physics from Spelman College, a Master of Engineering from Southern University and A&M College, and a doctorate from Southern in science and mathematics education.
As senior director of Programs for NSBE, she has a wide purview, serving as the organization’s chief programs officer, responsible for working with NSBE’s student leadership, as well as the Programs staff and Executive Leadership Team at NSBE World Headquarters, to achieve positive strategic outcomes for the Society, aligned with NSBE’s mission. She also mentors and guides the student leadership on program development, execution, evaluation and reporting.
“Dr. Williams fills a critical need in our organization,” said NSBE Executive Director Karl W. Reid, Ed.D. “In addition to her breadth and depth of experience as a program administrator and researcher, and her familiarity with NSBE, Rochelle also brings to NSBE her critical skills in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and program evaluation, both of which will help drive NSBE to strengthen its programs and project its impact in the growing demand for DEI engagement in academia and industry.”
“We are delighted to have a colleague with Dr. Williams’ experience and perspective as a member of our Programs team and NSBE family,” said NSBE National Chair Jocelyn Jackson, NSBE’s top-ranking officer, who is a doctoral student in engineering education research at the University of Michigan. “We look forward to making great progress together, realizing and continuing to focus on our vision of a world where black students and professionals are well represented in the engineering sector.”