Kent State alumna commemorated for leadership contributions


Bailey McWilliams-Woods (left), Ellen McWilliams-Woods (center) and Wendy McWilliams-Woods (right) at the EHHS Hall of Fame ceremony.

Erica Fowler

Keep your options open, always say yes when asked to do something and never take no for an answer.

These are three mantras Kent State alumna Ellen McWilliams-Woods told attendees at the 2018 EHHS Hall of Fame ceremony

on Oct. 26.

McWilliams-Woods, who was honored with the Alumni Leadership Award, said these three ideas embody the atmosphere of Kent State.

“My parents instilled in us that you always need to think broadly, keep your options open, look for possibilities and look for opportunities, which is exactly what Kent State does every single day,” McWilliams-Woods said.

As the assistant superintendent for Akron Public Schools, McWilliams-Woods said Kent State was there for her when others weren’t.

“I went to universities all over this region asking them to think creatively about how to get my urban youth on this campus because if they can’t see it, they can’t be it,” McWilliams-Woods said. “And everyone kept telling me no. They said they would take my 4.0 students, but I wanted all my students to see it and to feel it.”

McWilliams-Woods said Kent State acted as a trailblazer when she worked to set up programs for her students.

“Professionally, Kent State has been the most responsive, inclusive and creative partner for my work,” McWilliams-Woods said. “Currently, we have over 25 active partnerships happening with the faculty and administrators at the university. This award only inspires me to find additional ways to partner with this amazing university.”

The EHHS Hall of Fame, which began in 2010, is an annual event recognizing the achievements of alumni from the college.

“This is the main EHHS alumni event of the year and is definitely the most prestigious,” said Kedron Taylor, the communications and marketing manager for EHHS. “It is a way to honor our alumni and their accomplishments within their career fields and program areas, but it also gives them an opportunity to come back to campus to receive their award and share how KSU ultimately helped shape them into the professionals they are today.”

McWilliams-Woods earned all three of her advanced degrees at Kent State: A master in deaf education, a master of education in school counseling and a doctorate in educational administration.

McWilliams-Woods developed college and career academies for Akron Public Schools by collaborating with local businesses in addition to serving as the district’s first Medicaid consultant and creating a new school-based Medicaid program. The Medicaid program, which brought over $1 million to the district, provided many services to students in the Akron Public Schools.

“I am passionate about closing the opportunity gap for students,” McWilliams-Woods said. “I believe that every single one of my students, regardless of their experiences or their poverty level, can perform and oftentimes out-perform any student in the United States. But what has to happen is they have to have the opportunities that other students might get organically.”

Erica Fowler is the heath and human services reporter. Contact her at [email protected].