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Williams Takes Job with Hartford Foundation

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Former  Mayor Jay Williams has accepted a job as president of a philanthropic foundation in Hartford, Conn.

Williams, who was considering a run for Ohio governor after leaving the U.S. Department of Commerce in January, will take over July 17 as president of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the foundation announced Wednesday.

“When I look back over my experiences over the past 15-plus years in community and economic development, working in communities that have challenges but also great opportunities, it felt like a perfect fit,” Williams said during a phone interview.

The former banker and community development director was elected mayor in 2005 and served five years until he was tapped by President Barack Obama to serve as executive director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers. For a time, he served concurrently as deputy director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.

In September 2013, Obama nominated Williams as U.S. assistant secretary of commerce for economic development  to head the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The U.S. Senate confirmed Williams the following May and he served in the post until President Donald Trump took office Jan. 20.

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, established in 1925, is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. Since its founding, it has awarded some $700 million in grants.

JoAnn H. Price, chairwoman of the foundation, described Williams as “the right person, at the right time and the right place.

“Jay has a track record of strong leadership, innovation, community and economic development and public/private partnerships. He brings a long list of accomplishments and sound skills that will help move the Foundation’s new vision and strategic focus forward,” Price said in a statement.

The race for Ohio governor – an open contest because incumbent John Kasich  can’t seek reelection – was among several options Williams said he was considering for his post-Washington career. He wanted to do something he could be “impactful and passionate about,” he remarked.

Williams said he had been to Hartford twice before being approached by an executive search firm engaged by the foundation. Learning more about it brought to his mind the “transformative power of philanthropy,” he said, as he witnessed in Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley through the efforts of the Raymond John Wean Foundation.

The more he had the opportunity to engage with the foundation’s leadership and stakeholders and to reflect on the work the foundation does and is planning to do, taking the job became a “natural decision,” he said.

“This is still public service – not public service from elected office, but absolutely public service,” he said.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.