Ovita Williams

Dr. Ovita Williams is the Executive Director of the CSSW Action Lab for Social Justice at Columbia School of Social Work. She also serves as Associate Director of Field Education, and acted as Interim Dean and Director of the department for two years. Dr. Williams has taught the Social Work Practice and Domestic Violence course at CSSW and the Social Work Practice Lab for Liberation and Social Justice at Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter CUNY. Dr. Williams is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in intimate partner violence and forensic social work practice with ten years of experience as the Director of Clinical Services in the Counseling Services Unit at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office. Prior to this position, Dr. Williams was a therapist at the Children’s Aid Society.

During her time at CSSW, Dr. Williams has facilitated the Seminar in Field Instruction (SIFI) for new field instructors and expanded the Advanced SIFI around holding critical conversations in the supervisory relationship.

Dr. Williams has developed and facilitated interactive workshops for social workers, managers, and various practitioners on facilitating challenging dialogues around racism, class, gender, sexual orientation and intersecting identities. At Columbia, Dr. Williams has worked with students, alumni, faculty and administrators on the development of the foundations course, “Decolonizing Social Work”, through a power, race, oppression, and privilege framework. The course centers undoing anti-black racism and dismantling white supremacy culture.

A graduate of Vassar College (’90) and Columbia University (’93), Dr. Williams received her PhD from the City University of New York Graduate Center, Silberman School of Social Welfare. Her dissertation addresses the impact of stress, vicarious trauma and structural racism on social workers practicing in district attorney offices while supporting intimate partner violence survivors.

Dr. Williams is co-author on the recent book Learning to teach, teaching to learn: A guide for social work field education, 3rd Edition (2019) published by the Council on Social Work Education.