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TASA’s “Inspiring Leaders” tagline is not just a reminder of TASA’s commitment to leadership development; it describes our members themselves — school leaders who inspire others as they work to prepare future-ready students. Meet Theresa Williams, one of those Inspiring Leaders.

Since 2022, Dr. Theresa Williams has held the top office in Plano ISD, having previously worked as chief operating officer and deputy superintendent in the district. As a district leader, she is committed to growing her leadership and expertise in education. Williams was a nominee for the 2024 AASA Women in School Leadership Award, which recognizes the exceptional leadership of active, frontline leaders who are making a difference in the lives of students every day.

Lesley Range-Stanton, chief communications officer in Plano ISD, says Williams is an inspiring leader who shows the dedication and genuine care she has for all students through her work and the initiatives she has implemented.

“Dr. Williams sees education as her calling and as the key that unlocks doors of opportunity,” Range-Stanton says. “She is committed to achieving strong outcomes for all student populations and firmly believes that every student, regardless of their background or circumstances, deserves the opportunity to pursue their dreams and have a bright future.”

Williams serves PISD with pride and a daily commitment to the district’s mission of empowering all students to be critical thinkers, collaborators, and problem-solvers.

“An exciting current project — a result of our community’s generous bond program — is the development of our first-ever Career and Technical Education (CTE) center that will serve as a hub of innovation and collaboration with industry partners,” Williams says. “This is one more path, of many, that we provide students to be prepared for their future success. I am so proud of the impact and outcomes for all of our students including our work with Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Dual Credit and CTE.”

A first-generation college student, Williams understands the challenges many students face and is determined to provide ample opportunities to help students in the district meet their future goals.

“From her early days as a teacher to her current role as superintendent, she has demonstrated a deep commitment to creating future-ready pathways for students, which includes developing and implementing successful programs and systems to connect students to their future,” Range-Stanton says. “She understands the importance of providing resources and support to help students navigate their path to postsecondary success in college, career and beyond.”

A proud product of Texas public schools, Williams says she truly believes in the power of public education and the profound impact it can have on each student.

“I approach this incredibly important work each day with the heart of a servant leader who strives for excellence and continuous improvement across the organization to benefit each one of our students. This mindset anchors me to approach each day with resilience and a willingness to navigate the complexities of the education landscape.”

PISD staff says Willliams is committed to hearing and valuing the voices of her team members in a way that inspires them and makes them feel supported.

“She is a keenly observant leader who appreciates the work of her team across all roles,” Range-Stanton says. “Her leadership has reinforced the idea that effective communication is not just about disseminating information, but also about actively listening, engaging and building meaningful connections in order to foster a strong and successful educational community.”

For Williams, leading and developing others is an exciting and essential part of the work. She says she strongly believes that great things happen in an organization when leaders inspire innovation and growth in others.

“Leadership development is as multidirectional as leadership itself. A good leader is adept at leading those entrusted to them, leading their peers, and even leading up to those in authority by serving as advisors and subject matter experts, which makes building strong relationships an essential component. Throughout my own leadership journey, I have had the privilege of working with exceptional leaders and mentors. It is incredibly rewarding to give back to the profession by providing mentorship, support, and guidance to aspiring leaders. In Plano ISD, we recognize that developing a strong leadership pipeline of teacher leaders and administrators is a critical element for long-term organizational success.”

If you’d like to nominate an Inspiring Leader, email