Originally from Monroe, Louisiana, Carlisha Williams Bradley moved to Oklahoma at age three. After graduating from Union High School and the University of Oklahoma, Williams Bradley continued her education at Syracuse University, where she received a master’s in public administration. Passionate about education and social change, she has stepped into several leadership roles, including as the executive director of ImpactTulsa; the Congressional District One representative on the Oklahoma State Board of Education; a consultant and keynote speaker; and the founder of Women Empowering Nations, a non-profit devoted to the educational and leadership development of girls around the globe. We caught up with Williams Bradley and got her thoughts on … 

… ImpactTulsa.

ImpactTulsa is a collective impact organization that serves nearly 200,000 students across Tulsa County, in partnership with more than 300 organizations locally and nationally. Our aim is to guarantee that all students in Tulsa County are guaranteed a high-quality education. ImpactTulsa is a data-driven organization that uses that data as a flashlight to illuminate bright spots and existing disparities within the communities we work alongside. The data collected serves as a guide to complement the lived experience of community members, for the development of intentional strategies across sectors that will transform student life outcomes. 

I was drawn to this job due to my deep passion and work in public education. I have previously held leadership roles as an educator, administrator and superintendent. ImpactTulsa has allowed me to expand upon the work in my past to support 21 school districts in Tulsa County and increase engagement with the community to design solutions to some of our greatest challenges in supporting students from cradle to career. 

… Women
Empowering Nations. 

Women Empowering Nations (WEN) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to provide exposure and mentorship for girls of color in underserved communities and to develop them into socially conscious global leaders. Founded in 2009, WEN has worked with over 4,000 young women in eight countries to provide travel seminars, leadership programming and yearlong mentorship opportunities. 

My vision for WEN was fueled by my personal passion to give every girl the space to believe in herself, chase her dreams and magnify her voice. I grew up in many classrooms and on teams where I was the only person of color. During my childhood, the ability to see and be mentored by women who could hold up a mirror to my potential outside of my home was missing. I founded WEN to be the change for young women that I wished for as a young girl and to also provide a pathway that will transform access for women of color in leadership. 

… Tulsa in 50 years.

Tulsa is a special city, with a painful past rooted in systemic racism that we continue to see the impact of today. As our city is still in the process of growing and healing 99 years after the Tulsa Race Massacre, when I fast forward 50 years, I would love to see the outcomes of a community united in its commitment to racial equity. 

I desire for my future grandchildren to grow up in a community where their identity nor zip code limits the opportunities available to them. I envision excellent schools being accessible to all students in every neighborhood, and economic mobility being more than a dream, but a lived reality for all. In 50 years, I want to be proud to live and work in a city that has committed and done the hard work to transform oppressive systems, is willing to reallocate resources with a focus on equity, and prioritizes building solutions with, not for, the community.

… her drive.

I was born into this lifestyle. I come from a long lineage of educators, social change agents and servant leaders. From my grandparents to my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and more, I am blessed to be a part of a family that lives by the principle, “To whom much is given, much is required.” My passion and purpose collide daily in all of my work, so I count it as one of my many blessings to be able to lead in a lane that brings me much joy.