Faculty Spotlight

Michele Williams, BCBA-Doctoral®, LBA

Dr. Williams is a native of southwest Missouri and a graduate of Drury University.  There she majored in psychology and minored in biology.  After completing her undergrad, Dr. Williams went to grad school on a full scholarship to West Virginia University, which is one of the top schools in the world for behavior analysis. In fact, she was one of only three students that were accepted into the program that year. There, Dr. Williams received her master’s & PhD in psychology, but her concentration area was the experimental analysis of behavior.


"I did operant learning research with rats, pigeons, & Siamese fighting fish. I also had a teaching assistantship and taught 2 undergraduate class sections per semester," said Dr. Williams.


After graduation she completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Behavioral Pharmacology at Mercer University- Southern School of Pharmacy in Atlanta, and also taught part-time at Agnes Scott College, a private, liberal arts women’s college.


At this point Dr. Williams decided she liked teaching more than research, so she took her first academic position at Anderson College in Anderson, SC.


"The job I took at Anderson College was actually vacated by a former student of mine at WVU. She had trained in the same lab as me, but was leaving to start an applied behavior analysis (ABA) consulting business. When I moved to Anderson I started working with her & found that ABA was a great way to see the application of all of the learning principles I studied in my research," said Dr. Williams but after 8 years away from Missouri she decided to move back home.

 

Once back to Missouri, she worked for a company called The Childhood Learning Center. It was based in Reading, PA but employed behavior analysts all over the country.  Dr. Williams worked with children up to age 12 years who lived all over Missouri.


"I assessed their behavior, designed behavior programs, trained behavior therapists, & worked with school systems. I also taught part-time at my alma mater, Drury University. While it was a great experience working as a consulting behavior analyst, I quickly tired of the travel & missed full-time teaching too much. So, I took a position as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Drury.  After 2 years at Drury my position ended & I took the opportunity to try something new," said Dr. Williams.


At this point, she started working for another former grad student as an instructional designer for his company. For the following 3 years Williams designed online, classroom, & blended training programs for clients, which consisted of banks, hospitals, & insurance companies, among others. still missing the classroom, she took a full-time position at Missouri State University as a Senior Lecturer.


"Six years later, everything came together for me. One of my former Drury students, who had also worked as a behavior therapist for some of my clients, called me up one day & asked if I would help them out by writing some ABA course syllabi. Megan Weaver, my former student, was now the Interim Dean of Master’s Programs at Forest Institute. They were trying to get course sequence approval from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) so they could start an ABA program. I wrote the syllabi, they got approval, & then they asked me to be the program director. I was given the opportunity to teach graduate courses in my specialty area, oversee research projects, & create an ABA program from the beginning. I accepted that position in January 2011 and never looked back," said Dr. Williams.


Outside of work, she's also busy with her home life.  "I have been married for 20 years to an amazing & supportive husband, Chris, & we are the proud parents of two 6-year-old Boston Terriers, Frank & Brooklyn. I also serve as a Nationwide Leadership Training Team member for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life, which means I get to travel all over the country in my spare time training volunteers, and I head the Training Taskforce for the High Plains Division of Relay For Life, which consists of 6 states plus Guam. In the latter role I oversee all of the volunteer training that takes place in our division. I’ve been a Relay For Life volunteer since 2000, when my mom died following her second diagnosis of breast cancer. I have personally fundraised close to $10,000 for the American Cancer Society since that time & I am willing to do whatever it takes to keep any other daughter from losing her mother to that horrible disease," said Dr. Williams.


Dr. Williams is always open for questions and love to talk to anyone interested in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis.  She can be contacted at michele.williams@forest.edu.


For much more on Dr. Williams and her work please see her Curriculum Vita attached below.