Reiko Mia Williams, PCC Director, Position 7 – Candidate Interview
By Dan Neill, WCD Communications Team volunteer
DN: What inspired you to become a candidate for PCC?
RMW: When I was associate director of admissions at PSU, one of the people I hired as a transfer coordinator got to know me well, and so when a vacancy opened up on the board, she immediately thought I should consider running. I know I have the skills and personal and professional experience that will complement the PCC board, as well as the perspective to help achieve the PCC vision.
DN: How do your values and those of the Democratic party align?
RMW: My life, the way I live my life, is congruent with the values of the Washington County Democrats. I have always valued different voices and perspectives, and my various positions have required me to always consider what benefits not just a few but the collective good of students and staff. I have always valued education and justice. The George Floyd verdict just came out [today April 20], but there are thousands of names who have not been chanted and not been granted equal justice under the law. I am deeply committed to creating policy change that contributes to larger societal change, and the community college system is a direct way to do that. I believe in access to free education. I believe it is a right, not just for those with resources, and students should not leave school with tremendous debt or no access to livable wages.
I believe in equality and equity for all types of students and their families in access to education. My life reflects that. I was raised by a single mom, I became a single mom myself, just like so many other Oregonians. I feel proud of that kind of family composition because above all, family is who shows up for you. I will help PCC show up for all of us so our families can succeed.
DN: What is the main project or priority you will work on once in office?
RMW: My primary focus would fall under the umbrella of equity and social justice, and I my career has prepared me well to be a steward in this area. I want to make sure hiring reflects the PCC student body, which means advocating for minority-owned, women-owned and small-business contractors. Recently, PCC President Mark Mitsui announced his retirement and so I will prioritize hiring an equity-focused administrator. I would also have a commitment to programs that support underserved students. One such program has been the Portland Teachers Program that allows students of color to be supported in getting their teaching credentials – they start at PCC, then they go through the University of Portland, and complete their journey working in the Portland K-12 program. That’s a perfect example of partnership between PCC and K-12. Other good examples are the TRIO program at PCC for students who are low-income and first-generation students and the CAMP program for children of migrant families. These are the types of programs I want to support when in office and which I can help succeed with my past expertise.
DN: You currently serve on the Portland Public Schools Strategic Planning & Outreach Committee, what does that entail?
RMW: PPS has a visioning process in which they engage with lots of stakeholders to culminate with a graduate portrait: what a PPS graduate would be expected to do, access, and know upon graduation. They have developed committees to work on specific strategies that would need to happen to achieve that vision. As part of that team, I work on a sub-committee that is working with communities of color.
DN: Is there anything else you would like to add?
I am so excited to learn – I have been on many boards in the educational system but I know with every new position comes an opportunity to learn the ropes from the experienced voices and perspectives that serve on the board already. It’s a challenge I can’t wait for and I know my background and perspective would make me a valuable contributor.
Learn more about Reiko Mia Williams, Candidate for PCC Board Member, Position 7, at her campaign website.