Ms. Williams has more than two decades’ experience as a folklorist and arts administrator. She began her career at the North Carolina Arts Council Folklife Section. From there, she moved to the McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina, where she co-curated the national travelling exhibition Jubilation: African-American Celebrations in the Southeast.
For the past fifteen years, Lesley has been living in Durham, NC. “I am not only returning to my hometown, I’m coming back to an organization that was instrumental in developing my interest in the arts. I took classes in everything from photography to dance to improvisational theatre at the Center. I’m excited about joining the team and the rest of the Wayne Center for the Arts friends and grateful for this opportunity to help provide others with the wonderful arts experiences that I benefitted from.”
Williams has also served as the South Carolina Arts Commission’s first Program Director for Folk Arts from 1994 to 1999. While at the SCAC, she founded the Institute for Community Scholars, a training program for people interested in documenting local community culture. She directed the Cultural Visions for Inner Cities Program, which paired artists and community researchers with underserved urban schools and grassroots organizations to research neighborhood history and create art projects utilizing this research. As an independent contractor, her clients have included the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke, the Southern Arts Foundation and the Union Institute. Most recently, Williams served as the Executive Director for the Raleigh Chamber Music Guild. Her other projects include co-curating the exhibition Legacy of Survival: Catawba Pottery – 7 Master Potters and co-producing an album by renowned Piedmont blues guitarist Etta Baker. She has served as a grants panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and seven state arts councils.