Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Opportunities to Excel

BOND: What do you see as your greatest contribution as an African American leader?

WILLIAMS: The ability to take advantage of the opportunities that have been presented to me and to excel. I like to think that I've excelled in business, in government, in the non - profit world, that I have been able to be a good leader. I've been a responsible leader and I've tried to do the very best I can because I think we stand on the shoulders of so many people who sacrificed everything for us. And for us not to avail ourselves of this opportunity to excel whenever we can is an absolute must. It's an essential thing. It's something that's in my inner core. It's something that I have tried to pass on to my sons and everyone who I mentor.

BOND: As you look back at your life, are there opportunities you didn't take advantage of and you regret it now?

WILLIAMS: I don't believe in looking back but also I think I've been very lucky, Julian. I think that I started down a road that very few people have walked down from my community by joining the Peace Corps. I received very positive reinforcement from that and I was successful in a career in foreign affairs, in the Foreign Service working for USAID and so I've really enjoyed my career. It's been good for my family. It's been good for me professionally. It's led me to be able to work at outstanding organizations like RTI at this stage in my career so actually as I look back, it's been really a marvelous career. The only thing you could say is as I was an MBA, I probably could've gone into business and made a lot of money but I had the kind of enrichment that we have enjoyed as a family and what I've enjoyed in terms of my personal attainment has been very satisfactory to me.