Etta Williams has been in the field of child development for over 15 years, and currently serves children across the valley as a pediatric speech language pathologist.
Between family life and her day job, she also makes time for a significant project – the Children’s Museum of Napa Valley. Williams is the co-founder of the project, now in the fundraising stages.
She’s lived in Napa since 2014.
1. Which three people would you most like to have dinner with?
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Warren and Taylor Swift would top my list. However I would love to have dinner with a number of influential women who have either lived extraordinary lives, or are currently working to make an impact on our society.
2. What job would you like to try/not try?
Try: Children’s book author, focusing on creating more literature out there that features kids and families not often portrayed in children’s books: members of our special needs, minority and LGBTQ population.
Not try: Accountant; however I am so grateful for those who do this work!
3. How did you get into your industry?
I completed my undergraduate degree in elementary education and psychology. After graduation, I focused my teaching career in the primary grades (K-2).
It immediately became apparent to me that my students that struggled to acquire literacy skills, which is the major focus of those grade levels, were often my students who had challenges with their communication skills.
Knowing I ultimately wanted to pursue a graduate degree that would allow me to remain in the education field, pursuing my Masters Degree in Communication Studies and Disorders felt like the perfect match to allow me to continue to professionally make an impact with youth with a more focused lens.
4. What is the biggest challenge your industry has faced?
In Napa County, our biggest challenge in the field of speech pathology is that there are not many of us. There is a huge need for speech language pathologists to work in every element of our work from early intervention with infants and toddlers, to school-aged children, adults, and the medical field.
Speech language pathology is continuously ranked as a top-growing profession and a top-10 career for women, however to be qualified one is required to complete a great deal of education, and go through a licensure process with the state.
These hurdles can be daunting to most. I promise, though, the pay-off, and the rewarding nature of the profession in helping others makes it worth it!
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5. What’s on your to-do list?
Professionally: Lots of email correspondence and material prep for families and teachers of children I support.
Extensive to-do lists for the Children’s Museum of Napa Valley, which I co-founded, to find a home where my children and families can go and put their communication skills to good practice in an authentic and safe environment.
Personally: Getting my family and home ready for the arrival of baby #3 in mid-October. Needless to say, we’re busy!
6. Who do you most admire in the business world?
It may sound corny, but lately it’s been Taylor Swift. I appreciate anyone who uses their platform as a voice to help others. This year I’ve watched her stand up for artists’ rights and the Equality Act in very real and active ways with her art.
While I may never have her size platform, being an advocate and active supporter of the causes I believe in is something I constantly strive to do for both myself and as a model for my children.
7. What is one thing you hope to accomplish in your lifetime that you haven’t yet?
Continue to raise happy and confident children, build the Children’s Museum of Napa Valley and publish a book.
8. If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?
The amount of paperwork, especially in pediatrics and public education.
9. What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
Before leaving the classroom, I was named one of the Governor’s Top Teachers of the Year in New Jersey (in only my second year of teaching).
10. If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?
I’m torn between my back porch with my husband, Ryan and our children; and New York City. Ryan and I moved to Napa from NYC right before starting our family and I very much miss the city each autumn.