Academy Innovation Resident

Photo of Anna Ortega-Williams

Anna Ortega-Williams, PhD

Academy Innovation Resident

Dr. Anna Ortega-Williams is a social worker, public scholar, researcher, educator, and organizer inspired by the healing alchemy of social action among Black youth. Anna is the Bachelor of Social Work Program Director, and an assistant professor, at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. A social worker since 2001, she is excited about trauma recovery interventions that push the boundary between individual and collective healing and social change. Her research focuses on historical trauma, posttraumatic growth, organizing, and well-being.

Anna is deeply inspired by local, national, and global social justice movements, in particular Black youth-led responses to interrupt systemic violence. Her work is informed by growing up in public housing in the Bronx, as well as her commitments to joy, healing, imagination, and hope while transforming the world. Anna holds a PhD in social work from Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service, Master of Social Work from Stony Brook University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Hunter College.

Academy Innovation Residency (AIR)

As the Academy’s inaugural Innovation Resident, Anna leads work intended to shift dialogues and improve community health practice. This includes:

Transforming Trauma Discourse
Anna is curating a series of public conversations with the Academy that will enlarge the way we think about trauma, growth, and healing. This conversation series will start in December 2023.

Supporting Innovation in Academy Programs 
Anna acts as a Senior Advisor to the Academy’s Trauma-Informed Organizational Practice pilot. She leads the development and application of co-design methods and tools for building and improving this curriculum with NYC social service providers. Anna also teaches from her work in historical trauma and posttraumatic growth.

Piloting the NYC Land-Based Healing Project
Anna was awarded a CUNY Interdisciplinary Grant to launch the NYC Land-Based Healing Project in partnership with community gardens and farms across the five boroughs and a team of scholars and practitioners. This project explores land work in NYC as a path to social action, connection to culture, and intergenerational legacies of healing in the context of historic and persistent racism. It centers on the experiences of Black youth and youth of color working in community gardens and farms, along with the elders who support them. As part of the research team, the Academy supports the implementation and spread of this pilot approach to community-centered care.