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Meet the BOOST Leadership Team

Meet the BLT: Heather Williams

Meet the BLT: Heather Williams

Heather Williams
Strategic Initiatives Coordinator, California Department of Education, Expanded Learning Division, Sacramento, CA

Who or what inspires you?

I’m inspired by many things, but if I’m particularly seeking inspiration there are a few places I go look. One is reading. Whether fiction, non-fiction, books, articles, research, in the information age and particularly with the internet, we have so much reading material at our fingertips. It doesn’t take long before I can find something that inspires me. Music and spending time outside are other common ways I find inspiration.

Is there a quote or saying that you live your life by?

There are a ton, but one that I heard for the first time this year that I’ve been reflecting on a lot is, “Love, the act of allowing the other to be a legitimate other, is the only emotion that expands intelligence,” from Chilean biologist Humberto Maturana.

The quote comes from the paper “The Biology of Business: Love Expands Intelligence,” part of a series based on a presentation made by Maturana at the Society for Organizational Learning Member’s Meeting, Amherst MA, June 1998. He expands on this idea by saying: “There is something peculiar about human beings: We are loving animals. I know that we kill each other and do all those horrible things, but if you look at any story of corporate transformation where everything begins to go well, innovations appear, and people are happy to be there, you will see that it is a story of love. Most problems in companies are not solved through competition, not through fighting, not through authority. They are solved through the only emotion that expands intelligent behavior. They are solved through the only emotion that expands creativity, as in this emotion there is freedom for creativity. This emotion is love. Love expands intelligence and enables creativity. Love returns autonomy and, as it returns autonomy, it returns responsibility and the experience of freedom.”

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

A few different things come to mind. Something that has been essential to my growth is challenging myself to take on new responsibilities. You can’t grow if you don’t take on new challenges, take risks, or try something new. Paired with that is the importance of reflection. I’ve been working on setting aside more time (key phrase – working on) to reflect. Challenges, successes, failures, don’t mean much for your growth if you don’t take time to reflect on what happened. Some other things that I’m working on right now that are helping my development are digging deeper into my strengths through Gallup’s CliftonStrengths and our Division’s work with the Society for Organizational Learning.

How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?

You have to make space and time for it, which includes different types of spaces for thinking. One of the most common strategies we use in meetings to generate conversation is a Think-Pair-Share method. With this method, you provide the group with a prompt that you want them to consider (you are usually looking for the creative thinking from the group here). Then you move through the three steps: Think – give the individual time to think and jot down ideas by themselves. Pair – move into a conversation with a partner to share ideas. Share – partners share out in larger groups or to the full group. If you’ve ever thrown out a question to a large group with little to no response, this is a great alternative to try.

What are you currently watching on Netflix?

A lot! My husband and I love watching Netflix. We just finished watching Stranger Things 2 and it was awesome! Neither of us is fans of scary movies/shows, but this has quickly become one of our all-time favorite series and we recommend it to everyone. The children in the show are phenomenal actresses and actors, and it is extremely well written.

What was the best concert you ever attended?

Another case of hard to just pick one. I love music and love going to concerts, so I can’t really pick the best ever. I can, however, share one recent concert experience that was very special. My husband and I both love music, in fact, that is one of the things we bonded over when we first started dating. The XX is one of our favorite bands, and the first concert we went to together. We love them so much that our first dance at our wedding was to one of their songs. When we found out that they were playing in Sacramento the week before our wedding, we knew we had to go! So the Tuesday before we got married we went to the show. It was one of their best shows we’ve seen to date and it was such a great way to spend time together before the craziness of our wedding week kicked off.

Why are you a part of the BOOST Leadership Team?

First, working at the state policy level I really love being part of the BLT. I feel like it gives me a great connection to professionals in the field, and their perspective, on a regular basis. It’s really important that our work serves the field and this is one way that helps me do that. Second, I started attending the BOOST Conference within a year of working in my position at CDE and I was immediately struck by what a great conference (and organization) it was. It plays an important role in providing great Professional Development to the field, but beyond that, it energizes the field for the important work they do. It’s more than just a conference, it feels like a retreat where you are re-inspired to do the work you do. I love being part of the team that helps create that experience! Third, this is now the 4th year I’ve served on this team and the group has really become like family to me. Everyone is super supportive, caring, and they are all 100% dedicated to serving children and youth and this work. It’s such a wonderful opportunity to be a part of a team like that.

For breakfast, I had an everything bagel with cream cheese.

Author: @heatherwilliams


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BOOST Collaborative is a unique, purpose-driven organization committed to supporting those serving youth in the out-of-school time hours by providing quality professional development, opportunities for networking & partnerships, and leadership training. Together, we make a difference.

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