Research Passions: education, religion, information (and ignorance), global contemporary Jewry, social change, public policy, qualitative and quantitative research
Matt Williams is the founding Director of the Center for Communal Research. He works closely with a broad range of stakeholders in the OU and across the Jewish community to identify critical questions and evidence-needs so as to better solve social problems at scale.
His experiences have taught him that applied research, though imminently valuable, never realizes its potential without a user-base. He spends much of his time on the pedagogic elements of data: not just on what research says but on what it can do. He believes that collaborative research can cultivate more disciplined and successful communal professionals.
He joined the OU after serving as the Managing Director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive, an open-access online library and advisory group for Jewish professionals and lay leaders. He has conducted an array of research projects, developed strategic plans, and guided the design, execution, and evaluation of programs for a variety of Jewish and non-Jewish institutions, ranging from day school kindergarten classrooms to philanthropic foundation boardrooms.
He holds degrees in Art History, English, and Jewish Studies from Yeshiva University’s Honors program and was recognized as the Outstanding Honors Program Scholar and a Point of Light upon graduation. He received a master’s degree in History and Public Policy and is completing a doctorate in Education and History from Stanford University. Prior to attending graduate school, Williams served as both a Jewish day school teacher and a museum curator.
Williams is an alumnus of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, as well as a former Jim Joseph Fellow in Jewish Education, a summer fellow at the Katz Institute for Advanced Judaic Study, a Mellon Initiative Scholar at Yale University, and a visiting professor at New York University, the University of California Irvine, and his alma matter, Yeshiva University. He’s a proud member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and a Sephardic Jew of Moroccan descent. He and his family live in Irvine, California. When he’s not volunteering at the local pre-school, you can find him reading at the beach.