Dr. Katara A. Williams currently serves as the Executive Director for the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, a position which she was appointed to by Governor John Bel Edwards on August 31, 2016. Under Williams’ leadership, the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission is responsible for developing and administering the state's traffic safety program through collaboration with the federal government, as well as, state and local agencies. Louisiana's highway safety program is committed to saving lives by reducing traffic crashes which could potentially result in injuries, property damage, and fatalities.
Dr. Williams is a skilled professional with an impressive track record in the education, policy, and public affairs sectors. She has made her mark around the region and state as an advocate for education, having worked for more than 17 years in both K-12 and higher education. Dr. Williams has most recently served as the Associate Commissioner for Public Affairs and Advisory to the Council of Student Body Presidents. Williams has also worked at the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE), where she developed communication and stakeholder engagement strategies for Compass, the new teacher evaluation system, and worked with external constituencies and district personnel across the state on the implementation of education reform policies.
Prior to the LDOE, she was the Director of Media Relations for the Southern University System and Assistant to the Chancellor and Public Relations Specialist at the Southern University Ag Center. Dr. Williams also has extensive experience in broadcast journalism having been an on-air personality and public affairs talk show host onQ106 and Max 94.1 Cumulus Radio Stations.
She has served as a member of the Recovery School District Advisory Board where she moderated numerous community meetings with leaders, stakeholders, and parents. Dr. Williams was also selected as a panelist for the RSD Charter match process, where she interviewed the BESE approved Charter Operators.
To continue her love for student engagement, Williams continues to actively engage students in advocacy work for traffic safety by establishing the Student Ambassadors for Highway Safety program.
Dr. Williams remains actively engaged in the community by providing service to organizations such as Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB), Jack and Jill of America, Inc. - BR Chapter, SU Alumni Federation and the East Baton Rouge Academic Honors Day Steering Committee.
Williams is a 2012 Graduate of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber’s Leadership Baton Rouge Class, a 2014 Graduate of the Council for a Better Louisiana’s Leadership Louisiana Class, and a 2015 Graduate of the Higher Education Foundation’s Leadership Institute. She was also selected from a national pool of applicants as a 2015 American Council of Education Aspiring Leaders Program Fellow.
Williams is a proud alumna of Southern University and A&M College. She holds a B.A. in mass communications, a M.A. in public relations, and a Ph.D. in public policy from the Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy.
Williams' most notable achievement is being the first African American to serve as Louisiana's Highway Safety Chief.