Phone: (512) 596-5417

2028 E. Ben White Blvd #240-5417
Austin, TX 78741

Amber Willis

Vice President of Program

Our People

Dr. Amber Willis is Vice President of Program at Deans for Impact, leading custom programming. She has led work with the Learning by Scientific Design Network and Impact Academy. She is an experienced and dedicated educator with a passion for teacher education and a deep commitment to equity and social justice. With over 20 years of experience in the field of education, Amber has a deep understanding of equitable teaching practices, content knowledge, mindsets, and practice-based pedagogies that serve to increase the likelihood that marginalized students will have greater access to equitable learning experiences.

Prior to joining the team, Amber taught middle and secondary mathematics for over a decade, taught elementary and secondary mathematics methods courses, and was a mathematics research specialist at TeachingWorks. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics Education from Oakwood University, a Master’s degree in Mathematics Education from Nova Southeastern University, and a Doctorate in Educational Studies with a concentration in Mathematics Education from the University of Michigan.

Amber’s professional agenda focuses on designing and studying practice-based professional learning experiences for teacher educators, pre-service teachers, and practicing K-12 mathematics teachers. Her interests are motivated by a commitment to children and a desire to (re)humanize their experiences in schools.

Why did you start working in education?

I decided to work in education to disrupt the inequitable learning experiences that BIPOC students were having in math classrooms.

What do you enjoy most about working at DFI?

I enjoy working at DFI because we collectively value taking risks to create transformative change. It requires courage, vision, and a willingness to challenge the status quo, and that is precisely what DFI is doing across all of our work. Transforming the educator preparation system is a generational effort because it requires a fundamental shift in how we approach education. It requires us to rethink our assumptions about what makes an effective teacher, how we train and support them, and how we measure success. This type of systemic change takes time, dedication, and a long-term commitment to seeing it through. Our work is a daunting but essential task that requires vision, perseverance, and a deep commitment to equity and justice in education. The rewards are significant.

Describe a teacher or student who made a lasting impact in your life.

One teacher who truly impacted my life was Mr. Williams, my 8th-grade Algebra 1 teacher. He saw potential in me that I didn't even see in myself and encouraged my mother to enroll me in his class. Mr. Williams, a Black math teacher, understood the opportunities that Algebra 1 could open up for students if taken in the 8th grade. Mr. Williams went above and beyond by inviting us to his home for tutoring sessions multiple times a week, where he filled any gaps we had in our mathematical knowledge. His commitment to ensuring that we understood the material and succeeded set us on an uncommon trajectory, especially for Black students. His home became the math tutoring hub for Black students in my community for many years after that. I am grateful for him and the impact he has had on my life.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Whether I'm exploring new destinations, diving into a fascinating historical nonfiction novel, or simply hanging out with my family and friends, I always find a way to make the most of my time outside of work. Traveling has been an incredible way to broaden my perspective and learn about different cultures. Reading historical nonfiction is a way to learn about our past and how it shapes our present. And spending time with my family and friends is always a source of joy and connection. #travel #history #familytime