CENTER CITY, Minn. (May 18, 2021) – Following an extensive search, the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation announced Andrew Williams will be the organization's first director of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Williams hails most recently from the University of Minnesota Rochester, where he served as assistant vice chancellor for student success, engagement, and equity. He will start at Hazelden Betty Ford on June 7.
"The people who power Hazelden Betty Ford are mission-driven, compassionate and empathetic, and are primed to make the organization more equitable and accessible," said Mark Mishek, president and CEO at Hazelden Betty Ford, the nation's largest nonprofit system of addiction treatment, co-occurring mental health care, recovery resources and related prevention and education services. "Andrew's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion has deep roots, and I am humbled that he is bringing his experience, enthusiasm, and thoughtfulness to help us to reach more people affected by addiction, and to do so with cultural humility."
In this new role, Williams will drive cultural and behavior change across the organization to increase diversity, advance equity and foster inclusion. Serving as a strategic partner with others throughout Hazelden Betty Ford, he will champion DEI awareness, understanding, allyship and advocacy as well as the advancement of underrepresented groups. He aims to inspire others through example, challenge colleagues to live up to institutional values and legal obligations, and engage in creative and meaningful intercultural experiences.
"I hope to intelligently complicate policy and practice decisions with equity-minded and culturally attentive questions and arguments," Williams said. "To paraphrase Wendell Barry, it is the obstructed stream that makes the most beautiful sound."
Williams will work with the internal DEI Committee—which has laid the groundwork for the organization's three-year strategy to effect change in the workforce and in patient, family and student populations—and partner with external organizations to create opportunities to serve more people affected by addiction.
"We are committed to lifting up more voices, reaching new communities, providing more opportunities, and making long-term investments in our journey toward greater diversity, equity and inclusion," said Hazelden Betty Ford CEO Joseph Lee, MD, who on June 28 will succeed the retiring Mishek as president and CEO. "Andrew's leadership is key to our future, and helping us reach our goals. I am excited to work with him."
Williams' experience includes more than 20 years in higher education diversity and multicultural leadership, including posts at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs in Minneapolis; and Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. He also is an educator and fundraiser, and is active in his local community.
The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is a force of healing and hope for individuals, families and communities affected by addiction to alcohol and other drugs. As the nation's leading nonprofit provider of comprehensive inpatient and outpatient addiction and mental health care for adults and youth, the Foundation has treatment centers and telehealth services nationwide as well as a network of collaborators throughout health care. Through charitable support and a commitment to innovation, the Foundation is able to continually enhance care, research, programs and services, and help more people. With a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center, the Foundation today is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in its services and throughout the organization, which also encompasses a graduate school of addiction studies, a publishing division, an addiction research center, recovery advocacy and thought leadership, professional and medical education programs, school-based prevention resources and a specialized program for children who grow up in families with addiction. Learn more at HazeldenBettyFord.org and on Twitter.