Paulette Thomas Williams is a native of Freeport, IL, and a graduate of Freeport High School. She holds a B.A. Degree in Communications & Journalism from Western Illinois University, and is a graduate of the Highland Community College Leadership Institute.
Paulette is currently employed as the Communications Specialist for Freeport School District 145. She previously worked for 28 years for MetLife Auto & Home, where she was instrumental in developing and initiating a diversity & inclusion council and a paid internship program for high school and college students.
Paulette is actively involved in the Freeport Community, committing the last 25 years to public service. For the last 2 years, she has served as Commissioner on the City of Freeport Housing Authority Board. Prior to this, she served as a commissioner for the City of Freeport Planning Commission(3 years). Paulette previously served as a board member and president of the Freeport Community Foundation Board of Directors (6 years), and board member and president of the Freeport School District Board of Education (13 years). She was the first African American in the District’s history to hold this position where she served for 6 years.
Paulette is active in the faith community, serving in many roles in her local church, district, and state-level faith-based affiliations. Paulette has received numerous awards and recognitions, in her employment and in the Freeport and faith communities. This past August she received a “Small Town Hero” award from the United Way of NW IL. She is often called on as a speaker, instructor, and moderator of both community and church events. Paulette’s personal quote is “Let what you do speak greater volumes than what you say”.
I am not currently part of any local civic organization, but I have volunteered my time to special events sponsored by the Boys & Girls Club of Freeport & Stephenson County and in faith-based endeavors that benefit local agencies and community members.
I have been employed by the Freeport School District serving as Communications Specialist. In this role, I assist with and help prepare district-level communications and publications from media releases and administrative communications to emergency-related mass calls for school closings and other pertinent information. My role also
includes management of FSD’s website and social media presence. I also serve as coordinator for district special events.
Highland Community College has had a solid presence in its four-county district for many decades and is a great asset to the Freeport Community. I have an interest and desire to see HCC remain a stable institution where students from both near and far can continue their education in preparation for a 4-year college/university or prepare for the workforce through career and technical education offerings.
Enrollment: Recruitment & Retention
Recruitment and retention are current challenges for community colleges across the country and Highland is no exception. The continual and perhaps enhanced offering of degrees and certifications of relevance, and courses that feed into 4-year colleges and universities are all important factors in both recruitment and retention.
It is also important to have open and interactive communication between faculty, staff, administration, board, and students. Keeping the lines of communication open is a benefit to students and to retaining them until their desired goals of completion are reached. It is also important that HCC is able to compete with growing education trends such as online and weekend learning programs.
Recruitment of talented and diverse staff who can carry out the vision and mission of the college and deliver it to a diverse student body is also key to HCC’s success.
As state support has and may continue to decline, it is important that HCC takes financially sound steps to support the stability of the school and outcomes for students. HCC must continue to pursue new funding strategies and maximize on current alternative sources of funding with strategic partners that will be financially vested in the outcomes; willing to hire students who graduate from HCC; and whose support will help maintain the quality level of education that HCC offers. The strength of the Highland Foundation is also major in financial stability.
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