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Center for Women Veterans (CWV)


Director of VA Center for Women Veterans

Kayla M. Williams, MA

Kayla M. Williams

Kayla M. Williams serves as primary advisor to the Secretary on Department policies, programs, and legislation that affect women Veterans.  In addition, she oversees the Center’s activities, which include monitoring and coordinating VA’s administration of health care, benefits services, and programs for women Veterans; serving as an advocate for cultural transformation (both within VA and in the general public) in recognizing the service and contributions of women Veterans and Servicemembers; and raising awareness of the responsibility to treat women Veterans with dignity and respect.  As Director of the Center for Women Veterans, Ms. Williams is the Designated Federal Official for the VA Advisory Committee on Women Veterans, manages the VA’s Women Veterans Program, leads the White House Council on Women and Girls Women Veterans Working Group, and serves as an ex officio member of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services.

Prior to coming to VA, Ms. Williams spent eight years at the RAND Corporation conducting research and analysis on numerous topics, including the effectiveness of efforts to support wounded warriors and transitioning servicemembers; sexual harassment and assault in the military; psychological and cognitive injuries, their consequences, and services to assist recovery; and Veterans’ education benefits.  She also assisted in strategic management of the military health portfolio, including aligning with Congressional intent, identifying research needs, filling gaps in core competencies, business development, and ensuring regulatory and oversight compliance.

She spent five years enlisted in the U.S. Army as a voice intercept operator and Arabic linguist, which included a year-long Operation Iraqi Freedom deployment while serving in the 101st Airborne Division.  As commander’s interpreter during combat operations, Ms. Williams helped infantry companies succeed in conducting numerous quick reaction force (QRF) missions and combat security patrols by interacting with Iraqi civilians and police.

Ms. Williams graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Bowling Green State University and earned a Masters of Arts in International Relations from American University.  She is a member of the VA Survey of Experiences of Returning Veterans (SERV) Study Advisory Board and the Army Education Advisory Committee, a Truman National Security Project Fellow, a former member of VA Advisory Committee on Women Veterans, a 2013 White House Woman Veteran Champion of Change, and a 2015 Lincoln Award recipient.  Ms. Williams is also the author of Love My Rifle More Than You:  Young and Female in the U.S. Army, a memoir about her deployment to Iraq, and Plenty of Time When We Get Home:  Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War, about her family’s journey from war trauma to healing, both published by W. W. Norton.  She has given lectures and participated in numerous panel discussions and print, radio, and television interviews about Veterans, wounded warriors, caregivers, and women in combat.

July 2016