Keynote Speaker | ISLC
Each year ISLC has a powerful keynote speaker. This year's speaker will be Matthew Williams!
Some people need a cup of coffee to get them going. Matt Williams just needs a healthy
dose of ideas or challenges. Not small ones. Ones that require you to mobilize people,
inspire action, and catalyze change. For the past nine years, he designed campaigns
for nonprofits, government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies to advance civic and
Williams' projects include garnering national media attention for high school scholastic and athletic achievements as part of Wendy's High School Heisman; partnering with celebrities to raise 2 million dollars for charities through 7-Eleven's Cup with a Cause; and supporting adolescent literacy with a Guinness World Record for Jumpstart Inc. He's also resourced and mobilized school officials and youth advocates nationwide as part of the Health Resources and Service Administration's bullying prevention campaign. And most recently, he helped to shift the cultural climate at Wake Forest University with an award-winning documentary and programming to commemorate its 50th Anniversary of Integration.
Each of these efforts serves as examples of his fierce commitment to social impact and innovation, developing initiatives and media that spark trending topics on Twitter, create lasting change, and uplift marginalized communities. In his current role as a diversity educator and communication director for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Wake Forest, he works alongside the university's senior leaders to build an equitable community that respects all its citizens. He also has a special appointment with the Office of the President as Co-creator and Director of The Leadership Project, a program providing campus and community members with an opportunity to learn from influential leaders. Featured participants in the Project include, Chris Paul, Nancy Lublin, Eboo Patel, Rep. Donna Edwards, Charles Best, Tony Dungy, and more.
Williams is also co-founder of Hustle Winston-Salem, a non-profit organization that exists to facilitate a more inclusive entrepreneurial community by advocating for those most at-risk for systematic exclusion or marginalization in the local innovation economy. Additionally, he's an affiliate researcher for the Anna Julia Cooper Center for Race, Gender, and Politics where he's exploring impacts of social media and racism on Black millennials. Using scholarly research, quantitative data, and personal narratives, his public engagements illuminate important truths about society that challenge thinking and inspire action. His expertise includes institutional and systemic change, community development, creative-problem solving, strategic communication, inclusive cultures and structures, and more. Some of the most prominent supporters and coverage of his work include South by Southwest, TEDx, Fortune Magazine, the Personal Democracy Forum, Public Relations Society of America, the ACC Leadership Symposium, National Public Radio, and Fast Company.
A native of LaGrange, GA, Williams attributes his emphasis on community building and resistance to systemic inequality to the "village" sensibilities of his rural upbringing. In essence, when everyone invests in each other's success, the only option for anyone is to thrive. Williams earned an undergraduate and graduate degree in Communication at Wake Forest University and holds certifications in intercultural development and conflict management, social justice training, and brain-based conversation skills from the NeuroLeadership Institute.
In his spare time, you'll likely find Williams traveling. He's visited 20+ international cities, lived abroad in Venice, Italy, and has plans to explore more. He also loves hip-hop cycle, green smoothies, hosting cultural and community events, and spending time with family and friends.