A Survivor Story

A Survivor Story with Matthew Wesley Williams
Thursday, July 30, 2020 • 12:00 PM EDT

Host Jon D. Brown speaks with Matthew Wesley Williams to discuss his journey of healing and survival. This interview is the July 30th edition of the Black Men’s Health Summer Lunch Series.

Matthew Wesley Williams is the 11th President of the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC), a historically Black ecumenical graduate theological school, located in the heart of Atlanta, GA. Williams is a recognized executive in the field of theological education who has built national programs and partnerships among top-level leaders to advance opportunities for institutional change, faculty development, doctoral education, leadership formation, young adult vocational discernment, diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education. In July 2019 he was appointed as Interim President at ITC, leading the resurgence of the historic institution, known as “ITC 2.0.” Appointed to the presidency in June 2020, Williams brings a strong background in executive leadership, systems change facilitation, process design, strategy, theological education and ministry to bear on his ongoing work at the ITC, his graduate alma mater.

Before his appointment to the ITC, Williams was the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for the Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE), a national leadership incubator that cultivates wise, faithful and courageous leaders who make a difference in the world through the church and academy. He served as a member of FTE’s senior leadership team and was responsible for managing and overseeing a $7 million annual portfolio of strategic organizational initiatives. During Williams’ 15 years with FTE, he helped to transform and guide FTE’s initiatives in recruitment and leadership development for emerging leaders and rising scholars of color exploring and pursuing the vocations of pastoral ministry, scholarship, and other forms of leadership. During his tenure he cultivated and advised a network of over 300 faculty and students of color nationwide; providing mentoring and professional development to doctoral students, and facilitating placement of early career Ph.D.s. He also advised and designed program interventions for senior academic and other social sector executive leaders facing strategic challenges with value-added solutions that meet the missions of their organizations, including diversity, equity, inclusion, and change leadership. Williams designed and led initiatives that build the capacity of academic institutions and faith-rooted organizations to inspire, form and equip emerging leaders through impactful approaches to vocational exploration, faculty formation, and leadership development. During his tenure, he secured nearly $20 million for FTE’s strategic initiatives.

Prior to FTE, Williams served at the National Black Leadership Initiative on Cancer at Morehouse School of Medicine. There he coordinated the research, advocacy and educational initiatives of sixteen community cancer coalitions in ten states in the American South. During his tenure at Morehouse School of Medicine and FTE he also served as a pastor at First Afrikan Presbyterian Church in Lithonia, GA. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Interdenominational Theological Center (2004), in Atlanta. He also holds two bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Philosophy & Religion from Florida A&M University (1998). He is an ordained ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

A sought-after strategist, consultant and facilitator, Matthew is associated with the Center for Courage and Renewal and Art of Hosting communities. He is a thriving cancer survivor, committed to utilizing his academic, activist, and pastoral background in the spirit of Ella Baker who observed: “I have always thought that what is needed is the development of people who are interested not in being leaders as much as in developing leadership in others.” He co-authored a book on leadership and change published in January 2020 with Chalice Press entitled, Another Way: Living and Leading Change on Purpose. Originally from Chicago, Matthew resides in the Atlanta metropolitan area with his wife Alexis and children, Zuri and Sage.