Joanna Williams, Ph.D., M.S.Ed.
Senior Director of Research
Dr. Joanna Williams provides strategic leadership to the Search Institute Research team in conducting studies with youth-serving partners to address challenges and opportunities in youth development and education. She has had the privilege of working with and for youth in many capacities – teacher, youth development program staff member, and researcher – and in many contexts, including schools, community programs, and child welfare settings. She has served as a tenured faculty member at University of Virginia and Rutgers University, where she cultivated her research skills with a focus on issues of racial equity and positive youth development. Joanna has an M.S.Ed. in human development from University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Temple University. A critical part of her education and learning journey also comes from supportive mentors, peers, and young people. Areas of expertise include race, identity, and relationships with a focus on adolescence; this includes research on ethnic-racial identity and on social relationships and relational equity in racially diverse schools. She is also invested in translating the science of adolescent development into useful recommendations and practices for parents, educators, and policymakers. She is deeply committed to Search Institute's mission of promoting positive youth development and advancing equity for all young people.