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Van-Far graduate named NIFA associate director of operations

Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2022 at 3:20 pm

By Woodrow Polston

Drenda Williams has been named the new associate director for operations of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. In this role, she will provide oversight of the agency’s operations for a workforce of more than 340 employees and an operating budget above $100 million. Williams grew up in Vandalia, Mo., and lives in Kansas City, Mo.
“I currently live in Kansas City,” said Williams. “Through my career I have been able to make considerable accomplishments in the areas of agriculture and natural resources. This rewarding opportunity enables me to outreach about the many career opportunities this science area can provide while also serving as a role model,” she added.
Since May 2020, Drenda has served NIFA as the director of equal opportunity and civil rights, acting associate director of operations and acting senior policy and operations officer, making significant agency impacts in civil rights, operations, policy, and diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. As a USDA career employee of more than 28 years, she previously used her extensive leadership experience at the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service 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.
“As a first-generation college graduate, I believes in paying it forward and I am looking forward to continuing my dedication to public service making a positive impact among agricultural stakeholders and communities in this new leadership role,” said Williams.
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 native of Vandalia and a Class of 1993 graduate of Van-Far High School.