Video: Dr. Bradford Williams Page Content Video Transcript: [Moderator]: Good morning, everyone. This is Rick Walker and let me just real quickly say we are recording this session, and good morning. Welcome to the third of four El Centro Presidential Candidate Community Forums. As I said, my name is Rick Walker. I'm director of Starlink at our LeCroy Center location and I'll be serving as your moderator for today's community forum. I want to thank everyone for joining us today and thank you for taking part in this important opportunity to interact with the highly qualified candidates for the role of President of our El Centro campus here at the Dallas College and learn more about them. As we've mentioned before, in normal times we would have gladly hosted each candidate on campus so everyone could interact with them face to face; however, as we all know, these are not normal times and we must exercise caution and safety during the pandemic. So, I want to thank all our candidates, our panelists and our virtual attendees again for your flexibility as well as your attendance. Now, during today's virtual community forum, we will direct a combination of live questions from our virtual audience and prepared questions from our panel who I'll introduce here in just a second and we'll direct your questions to Dr. Bradford Williams. Now, if you have a question please submit it to the chat room and type in your question and we'll get to as many questions as we can this morning. Our community member panelists today are Harrison Blair, President of the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce, Kourtny Garrett who is President and CEO of Downtown Dallas, Inc., and Rick Ortiz is joining us. He is President and CEO of Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Now, before Dr. Williams shares his opening statement, let me provide you with a brief recap of his background. Dr. Bradford Williams currently is president of Oklahoma State University - Oklahoma City, OSU OKC. Driven by a strong commitment to student success, employee excellence and community relevance, he values creativity and innovation collaboration and the integration of technology to enhance student experience. He leads initiatives that partner campus and community resources to provide students hope, help and a way forward. Dr. Williams models a sense of purpose and a style of servant leadership that is the foundation for a campus climate that values empathy, kindness and the unique contributions of all faculty and staff. Prior to OSU OKC, Williams served as the Deputy Director of Strategic Planning and Initiatives at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. He also directed fundraising efforts at the Price Tower Arts Center in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and at the University of Central Oklahoma. A citizen of the Choctaw Nation, he has worked as an ombudsman for the Chickasaw Nation Office of Community Advocacy and for its division of housing. It is my pleasure to introduce to you Dr. Bradford Williams. Dr. Bradford - and I believe you said we can call you Brad? Brad cared to do an opening statement here this morning. Good morning. [Candidate]: Yeah, good morning. Thank you. Just a quick mic check. Can everybody hear me okay? [Moderator]: You're coming in great. Thank you. [Candidate]: This is an important forum because one of the critical pieces to the El Centro campus is its relationship with the community, and its perspective groups and members that help advance the agendas of the community. And so it's an honor to be part of this conversation this morning and I look forward to the exchange of ideas and questions in the forum that follows, so thank you. [Moderator]: Well, it's a pleasure to have you here this morning and again, if you have a question for Brad Williams, just throw it in the chat room and we'll get to it as best as we can. Our first question goes to Harrison Blair, President of the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce. Harrison, go ahead. [Panelist]: Thank you, Rick. Good morning, Brad. Thank you so much for being with us and my first question this morning is what is one big initiative that you would like to implement with external partner organizations like the Chamber as the incoming president of El Centro College within the scope of this new role? [Candidate]: Yeah, thank you for that. I think the important thing regardless of which chamber you speak about, is the value that chamber members benefit from or participate in as a chamber member. And so when you look at the strength and value of those relationships, the role of El Centro becomes very important. It becomes important for a number of reasons that include how do we help young men and women develop business plans and continue to advance the economics of the community? How do we develop young men and women to become leaders in the community and in those organizations that are part of the chambers that you represent? So when we talk about the relationship between the campus and the community and initiatives that I'm interested in, it's tightening those relationships to a point where everyone understands the strategic plans of the other respective groups and how do we begin to embed those plans into other plans and integrate those in a way where we're finding efficiency and process, but we're also maximizing and leveraging the resources of the community and the talent that's out there that ultimately strengthens Dallas as a whole. So that's what I'm excited about, is sitting down with each chamber organization or business stakeholder that the campus serves and how to tighten those relationships in a way that ensures that the symbolic relationship is maximizing leveraging the resources for everyone involved. [Moderator]: Great, thank you so much. Our next question comes from Kourtny Garrett, who is President and CEO of Downtown Dallas, Inc. Kourtny, good morning. [Panelist]: Thanks so much, Rick. Good morning. Brad, I'm going to build on that question a bit. You talked about the value of working with chambers and those like organizations. I'd like you to expand a little bit on your approach to community engagement, particularly in communities that have very diverse constituencies. [Candidate]: Right, yeah. Within each of those communities are our leaders of those communities, or individuals who are prominent in those communities whose voice in a way represents some of those and so engaging those is sitting down with people regardless of community and having those conversations of how do we do this together, how do we benefit from each other, how do we strengthen the community and the young people, young men and women, and the existing businesses within that. You know, I was going to hit on this later but I've read through the 360 plan, the Dallas plan, and so how does El Centro and those respective communities also support the overall strategies that Dallas is trying to implement as a way to move the entire community forward, and in doing that and having those conversations and those collaborations and partnerships, then everyone moves together, every plan moves together, rather than competing against plans that others may own. So it's being aware of what are the initiatives or the agendas that each community has and how do we work together to advance those rather than-- and being unaware of the intricacies of those that really could be a strength for all to benefit from. [Moderator]: Excellent. We are honored to have Rick Ortiz here this morning. He's President and CEO of the Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Good morning, Rick. You're up next. [Panelist]: Thank you so much. Dr. Williams, how are you this morning? [Candidate]: I'm doing well, thank you. [Panelist]: It's good to see you again and I was hoping to, I'm going to, I kind of had an order for my questions but based on the two questions that you just answered, I'd like to see if maybe we could delve a little deeper into what you were talking about and more specifically we as an organization, Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber, we work with and serve small businesses, primarily Hispanic-owned, minority-owned businesses from under-served communities. A lot of focus is not just advocacy but also capacity building. So my question to you is what role if any do you see entrepreneurship or small business programs and initiative playing in your plan, your vision, should you take this role? [Candidate]: Yeah. Yeah. Thanks for that one because it's something we've been close to here in Oklahoma City. When you look at small businesses who are trying to find their way and you look at the failure rate of small businesses anyway, but then layer over that the COVID-19 situation that has absolutely disrupted even the hospitality industry and somewhat construction industry and those others, it becomes very important to help individuals and business owners in the community find a different pathway. And what we were finding here in Oklahoma City, that response from the community to help business owners feel their way through that, was just void. And so we stepped out there as OSU Oklahoma City trying to offer just general interest inventories or community outreach to say we know you're hurting, how can we help you. Now, it's one thing for federal CARES money to step in and hand out some relief checks to businesses to try to offset that. You know, I've read the articles nationwide and are aware of minority business owners who may not have feel or believe that there was a percentage that hit those businesses as a cohort. But the important part is, is where is the support from a party that can help, whether it speak to entrepreneurship or business development or overall service recovery when it comes to small businesses who have been all but flattened by what COVID-19 has done to the country and the lockdown that that has had. So the role of El Centro, the role of what I believe that I would play in this is a convener to ensure that everyone understands the ideas and then more importantly, understands the opportunities for rebounding or recovering in some way. And that's again, for you take a restaurant or hospitality organization, that's more than putting tables and chairs on the sidewalk. What is the delivery piece and, and are small businesses aware of the technology that they can incorporate to help them reach broader audiences during this downtime? So it's really being a convener to help ensure that businesses are receiving the support or at least the ideas, trading ideas across businesses to help people survive what we're in the middle of right now. Thank you. [Moderator]: Okay, excellent. Let's go back to Harrison. Go ahead, Harrison. [Panelist]: Thank you. Brad, this question is really focused around the challenges with the pandemic. What are some of the biggest challenges and needs that you see for students of El Centro College coming out of this pandemic? [Candidate]: Yeah. You know, when you look at student needs, and these are basic human needs too, if you look at Maslow's hierarchy over safety and security and some type of certainty, those have all but been eroded during this time and so what we have tried to do where I am now what the role at El Centro is, is how do you, even if you have to manufacture that to some degree, create a sense of certainty for people to grab onto? If you take the general scenario of a student who is working maybe in the hospitality industry trying to go to school, living at home with family and contributing to the family environment and then you layer the COVID piece onto that where parents may have lost their job, maybe the student has lost their job, and so the morale piece to that alone is pretty much devastating. So everyone's trying to figure out how to do life when life has been disrupted in such a way as this, but at the same time making sure they get their 12, 15 credit hours done for the semester. And so what happens then is the El Centro or campus has to step in and be there for that student in a way that nurtures their mental psyche but also supports them. For students that don't have internet access at home, you know, we have, at OSU Oklahoma City, amplified our broadband and our parking lots and allowed people to access that in ways. We're showing people what study spaces at home look like. We're showing people what it looks like to be successful in an online environment when they may have traditionally relied on on-campus courses as their preferred method of instruction. So it's a pulse check on students and we do that frequently. How are you doing, what can we do to help you in the situation that you're in, and how we can help you continue to advance for right now to the spring semester. And I'll tell you right now, there are students across the country who have struggled during the fall trying to figure out if they want to set out for the spring or if they're going to stay enrolled for the spring and that is the big question right now. [Moderator]: Excellent. A quick reminder that our chat room is open if you have a question and you'd like to toss that out to the, to our candidate please fill that out in the chat room and then we'll go back to Kourtny. [Panelist]: Thank you. Brad, Rick asked you a great question about small businesses and we have certainly our fair share of small businesses in the downtown and work with El Centro in a number of ways from employment and other programs incorporating the culinary school in order to support them. Building on that, I also want to talk about our larger businesses though, our corporate culture, downtown is the hub of Dallas' corporate environment. So could you give me some examples of your business community collaboration and specifically how to leverage the business community, how to leverage the resources for the greater economic and social good. [Candidate]: Okay, and let me start there. You know, higher education is well known for its handout for corporate resources with little value in exchange and that is where we are doing what we can to change that. This has to be a relationship where both parties have value, identify value and move forward from that. So at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, I served first as legislative liaison. So we're working business incentives packages at the state capitol. Oklahoma had a closing fund only because it needed one to compete with what you guys were doing in Dallas and Texas. And so very familiar what your incentive packages look like for business, especially related to workforce development and such. And so I kind of whet my appetite at the Department of Commerce for interaction with business and so when Dale opened a call center in Oklahoma City, we created a workforce program to help them identify talent, secure talent, retain talent. So years later, here I am at OSU Oklahoma City and we see a notice in the newspaper where Amazon's going to locate a fulfillment center there. And it was just barely an announcement and so what we did is we knew though based on experience what Dale needed at different times, we could only apply that to what we assumed Amazon would need as well. So we called about everybody we could find within the Amazon directory and we finally located a site location person that was responsible for onboarding employees. And we reached out to Amazon and said we're going to offer you space so that you're not trying to hire Oklahomans to work in your fulfillment center under some tent in a parking lot or at a hotel. So as you onboard employees, we want to talk to them about what it means to work for a great company and we also want to talk about college and career. And so that started about two and a half years ago and over that two and a half years, we have run with Amazon about 15,000 to 20,000 Oklahomans through our campus who are seeking employment with Amazon. Now, about 12,000 to 13,000 of those were actually hired so then the next strategy was us pursuing the Amazon career choice program. So now that those employees have been or will be with Amazon for a year, they will be coming back to us as a career choice provider for their educational future. Those folks are looking for medical coding, that are going to feed directly back into business and industry in the area and that's just one example. Costco right now is landing a call center here as well so we're working with them. Here's what I absolutely love about Costco right now, is they're looking for people who have, I'm going to call them justice involved individuals, not afraid of that. And so we are networking Costco with a local nonprofit community to put people to work who were struggling to find work elsewhere and that is what community development is about. It's helping a rung of people on a certain pay level to step up because that changes families. It changes the community and it changes their family's trajectory and we just, we love being part of that. And that is what I absolutely love about the job and really what intrigues me the most about the El Centro job at Dallas. [Moderator]: Thank you, Brad. [Candidate]: Now I've got ten more of those examples so I know that's just one question but I could speak to that all day. [Moderator]: Excellent, thank you, Brad. Next question, Rick Ortiz. [Panelist]: Thank you, Rick. So, Dr. Williams, I'm going to go ahead and see if we could expand a little bit on the question that Harrison asked regarding some of the challenges associated with COVID. Let's see if we could make it a little broader, okay? Dallas county as you know is a mix of communities that are challenged by rapid population growth across the area, poverty, low education educational attainment, growing workforce needs contrasted with affluent expanding cities, etc. Please tell us what you know about the challenges in Dallas County and what role you see Dallas College playing in assisting these communities and growing their individual and collective economies beyond just your traditional training programs. And I'm going to add a twist to that question and say, and ask, and what role do you see external community partners playing in this? [Candidate]: Yep, yeah. First of all, when we look at COVID and its effects across the region, you know, it's one thing to look at the counts of COVID positive tests but there's a definitely a cross section of people who can't and aren't interested in a test, for a positive test being reported because that is the only income coming into that family and that is a dynamic that our nation I think is still struggling with. Not sure we're talking about it, but it's an important issue because when you look at the ability of or look at the piece of testing positive and then not being able, allowed to work or be around others when that is in fact the only income that is putting food on the table or milk in a baby bottle, that is a very different dynamic that we continue to have to acknowledge and address. But when we look at interacting with the community beyond training programs and development programs, there's also a financial cost to that. And what I mean by that is, it's an inability to access it because of the potential cost. And so when we look at how do we have subject matter experts as El Centro and what are the webinars or seminars that we can do out into the community that allow people to see and interact with new information and then if they so choose, maybe they then enroll in that marketing class because they want a little bit more of that to understand it but there's definitely a, oh, a need and a desire to interact with the community that doesn't always have a price tag on the presentation of information for that. And so that is what we are working toward as well is what are those entry-level or informational sessions that we can do to help people understand a world beyond their current imagination for new opportunities or innovation as it relates to technology or just the psychology of interacting with the public, and those are the things that I believe that can be done as kind of approachable community service minded informational presentations that allow people to have a positive experience with the campus without, for a struggling business, having to pay a set amount of money to even access that. It's part of the community responsibility I believe of the two-year community college system. [Moderator]: Excellent. Harrison, you've got the next question. [Panelist]: Brad, I just want to focus in a bit more on creating opportunities for students on the campus. What is your overall strategy to engage with community partners to create more opportunities for the students of El Centro? [Candidate]: Yeah. Yeah, so when we look at opportunities, there's a thousand different opportunities. Whether it's, you know, we run a camp during the summers and it's called 'so you want to be'. So you want to be, in this case, so you want to be a firefighter, so you want to be a nurse, so you want to be a, you know, a culinary specialist or what have you. Those are summer camps that allow a new generation of students to have a college experience. One of the things that we had done in that, because we wanted to do some survey and assessments on that, but realized that for middle school and below that may be difficult for them to kind of put words on paper to capture that experience. So, you know, I've worked in art therapy before so we had them draw pictures, and that first set of pictures before camp began were things like I want to be a professional athlete, or I want to play basketball or football, or I want to do, you know, whatever. At the end of the camp, those pictures they were drawing were I want to be a firefighter, I want to be a nurse or a doctor. I want to be a chemist, I want to-- and so it's exposing people to those opportunities in college and career and then creating the pathways for them to enter the doors of El Centro. But when you look at creating opportunities for students at El Centro, you know, the things that I think about are the co-sponsorship of business plan competitions where whether it be the Black Chamber, Hispanic Chamber members co-sponsor and/or judge or mentor, and support business plan competitions of young men and women who have that idea and are going to college and don't maybe want to go work for someone else, but want to figure something out on their own. So how do you wrap around those services, whether it be community through the chamber or campus through instructors and a team of support, to help them reach their goals and their dreams for their life? And so those are, that's the way I think of how do we bring partners in, leverage resources and co-produce events and opportunities that allow people to not just be confined or excel within the boundaries of the campus, but really reach out and stretch them into the community so that transition beyond college is a lot easier to them because they've already been working with business owners in the community. So it's exposing them to the community beyond just the campus zip code. [Moderator]: Thank you, Brad. We are coming up to our nearly halfway point so if you are an attendee and you have a question now would be a great time to toss your question into the chat room. Let's go back to Kourtny Garrett. Go ahead, Kourtny. [Panelist]: Thanks, Rick. Brad, I want to talk a little bit-- This position is very much described as one that's external in many, many ways. So I want to talk a little bit about your civic experience and specifically your interaction with local, county, state officials, leadership, and then how in a new market would you engage, how would you go about engaging within the civic leadership and elections leaders here? [Candidate]: Yeah. Yeah, so here in Oklahoma, I did, I think I mentioned earlier I served as a state and federal legislative liaison from the Department of Commerce. What I realized really, really fast is that people around the table one, want to know who you represent and if you're a trusted agent of that organization. But then second, what is the topic? And so really the emphasis comes around one, do I trust that what you're bringing to the table is true and accurate, and then the second piece of that is what is the topic and how does it affect the community? What I really realized really fast was as the topic, or the topic of discussion, is identified and everyone rallies around that, that personalities kind of emerge in different ways but the important part is, is that everyone wants access to the right information in order to make the decision. It's as simple as that. And so when you look at entering a new community which would be that for me, there's certain gatekeepers to each of these different and various constituencies, so it's a matter of getting to understand and know them and then, and then helping them understand the motives that El Centro and Dallas College have as it relates to the topics that are being discussed. And so, you know, sometimes I overthink the relationship but really, any decision makers after information that is accurate and fair, and is also after information that represents a broad community base, no one likes to be blindsided so transparency is very, very important and response time is important as well. And so when you when you bring all of those pieces together, as a [inaudible] such as El Centro, becomes very important as you are the ambassador of that organization and all the goodwill. Even the history, whether you own it or not, that history is on you too but it's understanding that history as a way to move an agenda forward. [Moderator]: All right, let's go back to Rick Ortiz. Rick? [Panelist]: Thank you, Rick. Dr. Williams, let's, I want to see if you could share something, share a time that okay, well, we all experience success and failure in our lives, in our careers. Can you share a time when you didn't succeed, you failed at something in your job but that you learned from it and what that experience was and how you learned from it and how it's helped you today? [Candidate]: Yeah. Yeah. What-- one thing, and thanks for phrasing it like that, failure and success is a yes or no light, red light kind of deal. And when there's something to learn from everything, even as if it's a success or even it's a failure. You know, I think back on speed bumps or failures that I've had throughout life that involve large groups of people and so for example when you look at when I was at the University of Central Oklahoma, we transitioned from a legacy operating system to a, to a banner aleutian product which was an entire adjustment of the campus student information system to that. And what my role was, is to help that transition be possible. Everyone approaches change in different ways. Fear is one. You have your early adopters of course. You have those that need to see it work and then adopt. But fear is a common factor throughout that and there are times in my life where I have underestimated the absolute fear that some people have toward change. It's, it's beyond the fear of public speaking or death. It's fear of absolute change and disruption. So, I've learned a lot from my past insofar as how people approach change because of the fear and have gotten better about the communication process throughout that to make sure we understand the basis of the fear moving forward. And so I've used that. I've used that now as our campus has tried to adjust to COVID-19 and the shutdown that we have done. People are afraid and everyone has the right to be afraid in their own way. That is, fear's a subjective piece. You know, if you've been exposed to significant events in life, then your level of fear towards change may not be what others are. But again, when you look at learning from past experience, the opportunity to help people step through change is difficult but it's certainly something I've learned from the hard way, from not being as communicative or collaborative as I could have been early on in my career as it relates to change and fear. [Moderator]: Well, we've had some great questions from our panelists. I believe we're done with the scripted questions but I would like to give another last call for the chat room. If anyone who's attending would like to ask a question, now's your chance to get your question in and then I'll ask our panelists any follow-up questions. We all good? [Panelist]: I'll throw one last one in there for you. [Moderator]: Okay, Kourtny. Go ahead. [Panelist]: And maybe it's a good last one to end on if there's nothing else. This is a really exciting time for Dallas College and the El Centro campus, particularly as we think about building a new facility in the center of our city. So there will be, I anticipate, some visioning involved and there's been a lot of great work that's already been done leading up to this and getting the bond passed. But I'd love to hear your approach for extending on that visioning, and building on the great work that's been done but then also using your own ideas and those from your external partners in the community. [Candidate]: Yeah, thanks. So when you look at a large new facility in a metro like that, [inaudible] to the concrete jungle that is, right? And if you've been downtown Seattle, how do you, if that, if the facility, I almost called it [inaudible] that's still a sterile term. So it's maybe a gathering place. If you view this as a true gathering place, then what does the green space look like? How is this truly a gathering space in terms of its programming for community members and whether there's public access to library or the facility in terms of wellness or how does the campus tie into either walking trails or bike paths and those types of things? Because it can't be a stand-alone facility but it has to blend in and be an additive structure in a way that supports the overall goals of the city. What I'm interested in in terms of visioning for a facility as it impacts the greater Dallas, I'm a big smart cities fan and so when you look at the data that a city is going to need to continue to analyze and draw insights from, how do we continue to, because you can't just build a building and walk away from it. What is the long-term plan for functional use? There's nothing worse than a new structure in a significant part of town that closes its doors at five o'clock and opens at seven or eight the next morning. It's got to be bigger than that. It's got to be beyond that. It's got to be almost a [inaudible] member of the community. In order to do that though, you have to talk to those in the area that will use it, that want to use it, but at the same time you have to stretch the community because the community itself will use its own lens and perspective to tell you what needs to be in that building which is sometimes finite. And so, so when you look at other cities who have put this type of, you know, that the level of money that's behind this type of projects is similar to a large public works project right in the middle of downtown so it has to reflect that and kind of absorb some of those traits rather than being one entity that's owned by one group with one directive behind it, but really a community asset that's going to continue to draw and attract people to it as this beacon of learning and education for decades and decades to come. And that's what's exciting about this. So again, so when you talk about vision for a building or a structure of this type, I view it as a gathering place and so while you do take ideas from the community on what goes with it, you have to continue to stretch people to think about but where will this go in five or ten years. At the same time, we see how fast every building in town was mothballed or shuttered with COVID-19, and so you have to have, or you are wise to have, a parallel online piece that mirrors the brilliance of the on campus because there's, I mean, who would have thought we'd be sitting here right now with half a year behind us where the world was trying to find its way. So anyway, if you have to have, based on what we've learned the past six, eight months, you have to have a corresponding strategy for how to bring into the virtual world all the brilliant lights and sounds of an on-campus environment to the virtual setting. [Moderator]: Great question to end on, Kourtny. And Dr. Brad Williams, it has been an honor having you here and of course we want to give you the final wrap up words. Do you have anything to say in close for us today? [Candidate]: Yeah, thank you for that and I've enjoyed the opportunity to speak not only this afternoon but, or this morning but yesterday as well. When we talk about a campus's relationship with the community, you know, there's a lot of academic research that structures or tries to present models or structures to, to organize that. And what we have seen, what I have seen and what my career I'm dedicated to, is trying to change that. This is not just the academy saying we're building a building and the community come to us for, and let us help you. This is really a coordinated and organized collaborative approach to where this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because as I've said in prior meetings, there is no other campus in the nation right now, one, consolidating its colleges into one but two, about to create a footprint in a large metropolitan area that is for people and there's a book called the palaces of the people, and that is what this is to be, not an ivory tower but a palace for the people, to where people come and exchange ideas that ultimately make the city of Dallas better. And that is exciting. Some people are there mentally already, some people have ideas on how to manifest these types of things, but we will continue to have to stretch this into the future because it can't look in 20 years what it looks like today because the world is changing that fast. And so I just look forward if chosen to be part of that. [Moderator]: Great. Dr. Brad Williams, thanks again so much. We appreciate your time. And Kourtny Garrett, Harrison Blair, Rick Ortiz, our panelists, thank you guys. Thank you to our participants. A quick reminder that we will have our final presidential community forum at 11:30 a.m. today and so this has been a very great time with you, Dr. Williams. We appreciate you and you guys have a great day today. Thank you. [Candidate]: Thank you.