Drenda Williams is currently the NIFA Associate Director for Operations at National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) – U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) extramural grant funding agency for agricultural research, education, and Extension programs. In this role, she will provide oversight of the agency's operations for a workforce of over 340 employees and an operating budget above $100M.
She joined NIFA in May 2020 as the Director of Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights. As Director she implemented a holistic method of collaborating with stakeholders to provide technical assistance and civil rights compliance oversight. As the agency Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility lead she was integral in implementing initiatives to address Executive Orders 13950 and 14035. She has also served as the NIFA Acting Associate Director for Operations and Acting Senior Policy and Operations Officer providing oversight to the agency’s administrative and operations functions.
As a USDA career employee of more than 29 years, she previously used her extensive leadership experience at the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in critical agency functions including Operations, Administrative Transformation, Farm Bill Programs, Performance Targets, and Policy Development. She served as a member of the Space Efficiency Team, Fleet Management Team, National Workforce Planning Team, National Recruitment Strategy Team, Activity Based Costing Forum Group, Conservation Delivery and Streamlining Initiative Readiness Team.
Drenda started her career as one of the first USDA 1890 National Scholars at Lincoln University, where she obtained a B.S. in Agriculture with an emphasis in Natural Resources as a first-generation college graduate. She is a graduate of the George Washington University Emerging Leadership Development Program and has received various notable awards such as the NRCS Chief’s Diversity, USDA Martin Luther King Drum Major for Service, USDA Organization of Professional Employees Unsung Hero, and the Pearlie S. Reed Excellence in Conservation. Drenda was the 2022 recipient of NIFA’s A.J. Dye Diversity Award which annually recognizes NIFA staff accomplishments in achieving positive organizational outcomes in support of diversity, pluralism, and related innovation in program design and implementation. The award acknowledges and celebrates efforts that support the USDA Strategic Goals and go beyond meeting EEO/Affirmative Action Program requirements.
Williams has consistently excelled in the performance of her duties within USDA and continues to lead by example. In her spare time, she enjoys spending with family, gardening, and creating things.