New York, NY – (August 17, 2021) After an intensive search, OBT’s Board of Directors names Darlene Williams, PhD, as Chief Executive Officer, effective September 7, 2021. 

For nearly 40 years, Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow (OBT) has worked to break the cycle of poverty and inequity through education, job training, and employment. Today, OBT’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce a new leader who will guide our mission into OBT’s next chapter. After an intensive 7 months-long process, we are thrilled to welcome Dr. Darlene Williams as OBT’s new Chief Executive Officer, effective September 7, 2021. She will lead OBT’s $8.5 million annual budget and will oversee a staff of 85. Dr. Williams succeeds Dr. Liliana Polo-McKenna, who stepped down in June.

“I am truly grateful to the Board of Directors for the opportunity to continue the legacy of OBT’s phenomenal 40-year history,” says Dr. Williams. “This is a critical time in our society that calls for intentional and focused attention on addressing inequity, racism and the importance of education and career development. I look forward to the privilege of working with the OBT team on the next phase in the important journey.”

Dr. Williams is a passionate and effective leader whose commitment to supporting community transformation led to her unanimous selection from the Hiring Committee, chaired by OBT Board Members Jill Hopman and Brian Mitra.

“Increasing opportunities for our communities to access employment and gain valuable work experience will be a critical tool as our City recovers from this unprecedented crisis,” said NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) Administrator Gary Jenkins. “Having worked with Dr. Williams directly in several different capacities over the past several years to support New Yorkers in need, I am thrilled that she has been named the Chief Executive Officer of OBT, and look forward to continuing our work with this proven-successful organization to ensure that all New Yorkers, regardless of background, have access to a sustainable and fruitful career path.”

“Dr. Darlene Williams is a proven executive and leader who has executed consistently in the field of social services and affordable housing. Dr. Williams’ appointment as the CEO of OBT means that the organization will be led by a visionary and committed leader in the field.  Congratulations to the Board and executive management on this high-quality addition to your team,” said Dr. Malcolm A. Punter, President & CEO Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement, Inc.

Dr. Williams’ career in nonprofit organizations, New York City government, and as an Associate Adjunct Professor at Long Island University (LIU) is guided by her commitment to anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Most recently, she served as the inaugural Chief Program Officer at Women in Need (Win), overseeing Win’s portfolio of Transitional and Supportive housing facilities as well as their associated programs and Operations. She ensured effective service delivery to families, helping to transform the lives of NYC homeless women and children through supports that included stable housing, mental health support, financial literacy, income building services, childcare, recreation, summer camp, and afterschool programs. Prior to her role at Win, Dr. Williams served as the Assistant Commissioner at the NYC Department of Veterans Services (DVS), and held progressively responsible executive positions at the NYC Administration for Children’s Services and at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). In addition, Dr. Williams developed and teaches a Diversity & Health Disparities course at LIU that explores the impact of racism, discrimination, diversity, culture, and socio-economic status on access to healthcare and health outcomes in the United States. Her career path demonstrates a dedication to and executive capacity for serving the City’s most vulnerable populations.

“Dr. Darlene Williams is an incredible leader, advocate, and visionary! Her dedication to working for and uplifting unserved communities is unparalleled and matched only by her compassion and unwavering commitment to the highest level of service,” said Dr. Claire Green-Forde, LCSW, Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers-NYC Chapter.  “Her values and legacy of impact strongly align with social work values and the National Association of Social Workers- NYC Chapter is excited that she is joining OBT as the CEO!  We are confident that many more individuals will be served under her leadership, and we look forward to partnership with OBT in service to the community,” continued Dr. Green-Forde. 

“Dr. Williams is supremely adept at balancing the complexities and urgencies of senior leadership in a multi-million-dollar NPO, with the conscious intentional humanity necessary to let those who work with her know that she cares,” states Stephen Duncanson, President, True Destiny Leadership Group.

We are excited for Dr. Williams to bring her leadership and vision to OBT’s work in response to the ongoing pandemics of racism, economic inequity, and COVID-19. Until her start in September, OBT will continue to be led by Co-Interim CEOs Courtney Granger, VP of Programs, and Bryant Lee, VP of Finance.