Chief Academic Officer/Assistant Superintendent

Image of Ellen McWilliams-Woods, Ph.D.
Bio for Ellen K. McWilliams-Woods, Ph.D.
Chief Academic Officer/Assistant Superintendent
Akron Public Schools

Revised January 2020

Ellen McWilliams-Woods has served as Akron Public Schools chief academic officer/assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction since 2008. A lifelong educator, she began her career in the Akron schools in 1989 as a teacher and has since served in numerous key leadership positions over her 31 years in the district.

She was Akron Public Schools first Medicaid consultant where she designed a new school-based Medicaid program that generated more than $1 million annually for services to students with disabilities. She also served as a special education supervisor and director of special education for 15 years. As assistant superintendent, Dr. McWilliams-Woods successfully secured a $9.2 million Race to the Top grant to elevate the Akron Public Schools into an innovative leading urban school system in Ohio. She was instrumental in opening three new specialty schools in the Akron Public Schools including the National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM Middle School and High School, as well as the I Promise School in partnership with the LeBron James Family Foundation. She also successfully collaborated with faculty and local businesses to have the district named as the first Ford Next Generation Learning community in Ohio where the district's nine high schools have been transformed into the College and Career Academies of Akron.

In addition to her work in Akron Public Schools, Dr. McWilliams-Woods devoted 20 years as a part-time faculty member in Educational Foundations and Special Services at Kent State University. Prior to joining the Akron school system, Dr. McWilliams-Woods held various positions within the field of counseling and education. She began her career as a culturally different language specialist in the Cleveland Heights/University Heights school district. She also served as a counselor for children and adults in a private practice in the Akron area and worked as a research assistant at Kent State University's Observation Analysis Lab.

Dr. McWilliams-Woods earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Audiology from Illinois State University. Her three advanced degrees were earned at Kent State University: a Master of Education in School Counseling, a Master of Education in Deaf Education and a Ph.D. in Educational Administration. Additionally, Dr. McWilliams-Woods completed a three-year Harvard Executive Leadership program with school, business and city leaders from Akron and completed a seven-year Partnership for Leaders in Education school turnaround program at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business and Curry School of Education.

Dr. McWilliams-Woods is a leader in education and in the community. She serves on the board of ConxusNEO and Project GRAD Akron and is an active and proud member of Leadership Akron, Class XXVI.
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