Jane Case Williams, a native South Dakotan, grew up in and was educated in both South Dakota and Washington, DC, as her father was a member of Congress and the U.S. Senate. She attended the University of South Dakota and received her BS in speech pathology from George Washington University and her MA in applied linguistics from American University.
Jane’s federal career began in the central office of the Head Start Program of the Office of Economic Opportunity, a centerpiece of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. She was instrumental in the inclusion of speech and hearing services in local Head Start programs.
She then went to the U.S. Office of Education (now Department of Education) where she planned and directed the congressionally mandated national study of gifted education in the US (Marland Report 1972). After the Office for Gifted and Talented (OGT) was established in the Office of Special Education Programs, the administration of the executive order authorizing the Presidential Scholars Program was given to the OGT, and Jane assumed executive director responsibilities. These included the development of a preliminary selection process that would ensure both wide candidate access and the privacy of student records.
Contractual arrangements with the Educational Testing Service and the American College Testing Service led to a broad-based process through which graduating high school seniors (potential PSP candidates) gave informed permission for records access. They provided significant other application information for consideration by the members of the Commission on Presidential Scholars, who are tasked with selection of Scholars. The Executive Order was later modified to include Presidential Scholars in the arts, and the selection of this group was assisted through the cooperation of national music and arts associations.
Jane retired after more than 30 years in the Department of Education, but her interest in Presidential Scholars continues. She divides her time between Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, and the Black Hills of South Dakota.