CHICAGO — Angela Williams is a minister, a lawyer, and has served in the United States Air Force. She is also the first African American to serve as president and CEO of one of the nation’s largest non-profit healthcare organizations.
For Williams, the call to service came at a young age.
“From a small age, I grew up hearing about civil rights, equality and seeing my parents in action when it comes to advocacy,” she said.
She’s had a storied career. In the mid 1980s Williams served in the U.S. Air Force as a judge advocate general. or lawyer. In 2006, she served as the interfaith liaison for the Bush and Clinton Katrina fund.
“My responsibility was to hand out $25 million in grants to rebuild houses of warship that were devasted by the hurricane,” she said.
These experiences prepared her for the position she holds now, advocating for those with disabilities, as the president and CEO of Easterseals. Easterseals is a non-profit healthcare organization serving more than 1.5 million people a year.
“Our purpose statement is to change the way the world defines and views disability,” she said.
As she advocates for others, Williams is making history. She is first African American woman at the helm of Easterseals.
Easterseals, who recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, has served countless people throughout the last century, but Williams, hired in 2018, was designed to bring about change for the next century.
“Being an African America woman, I always look at how can I use the position that I am in to better society and also to provide support and services to the Black community,” she said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Williams said healthcare disparities in the Black community became crystal clear.
“What we know is that Black children are diagnosed later than white children with developmental or intellectual disabilities,” William said.
Launched earlier this month, Williams created the Black Child Fund, with a goal to raise $5 million to help identify African American children with disabilities their first five years of life.
“The right thing to do is to include all of the various aspects of who we are as humanity for a seat at the table and to be treated equally,” Williams said.
And as Easterseals delves into its next century, rest assured, Williams will continue doing her part.
“Advocacy and equality, I think it’s part of my DNA,” William said.
Angela Williams she is one of Chicago’s Very Own.
If you would like to donate to the Black Child Fund visit easterseals.com.