Black women are shattering glass ceilings in the nonprofit space. Angela F. Williams was recently appointed to serve as the president and CEO of United Way Worldwide; making history as the first Black woman to sit at the helm of the global organization.
Founded in 1887, United Way Worldwide is a nonprofit that’s mission is rooted in evoking change at a grassroots level. The organization—which has a presence in nearly 1,800 communities across the globe—supports initiatives centered on economic mobility, healthcare and the advancement of education. For Williams, a seasoned nonprofit leader with over three decades of experience within the industry, the impactful efforts being led by United Way Worldwide align with her vision to uplift and empower vulnerable communities. The South Carolina native—who holds degrees from the University of Virginia, the University of Texas School of Law and the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology, Virginia Union University—has dedicated her entire career to driving change.
She served in the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps for over six years, focused on criminal law as part of Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s Senate Judiciary Committee staff, was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida and was part of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division’s National Church Arson Task Force. She has also held executive-level roles at organizations that include the YMCA and Easterseals and was instrumental in supporting the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund.
Williams, who succeeds Brian Gallagher, is excited to take on the new role. “I am absolutely honored to join the world’s leading charity at a key moment in the organization’s history and world events,” she said in a statement. “Around the world, issues of health, education and economic sustainability are at the forefront of ensuring equality and access to a good quality of life. I recognize and appreciate the tremendous role that United Way Worldwide plays in supporting individuals and families and transforming communities. I am committed to working with the Board, volunteers, partners and staff to build on the rich legacy of the organization in its second century of service.” Williams—who will be the first woman and first African American to lead the organization in its 134-year history—is slated to officially step into her position on October 15.
Her appointment comes at a time when there is a major need for diversity in nonprofit leadership. Research shows 87 percent of all executive directors or presidents at nonprofits are white.