Cofounder, State & Broadway; coordinator, Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Coalition
Jacqueline Williams has an unusual pedigree for an Albanybased lobbyist: She was born in London, the daughter of West Indian immigrants. Nonetheless, she displayed a love for government at an early age.
“My passion has always been government,” Williams said. “I always laugh because I look in my high school yearbook under interests, and right there, in black and white next to my photo, my interests are: government.”
Williams originally planned to work in Washington, D.C., but instead received a paid internship from the New York Assembly—and never left. As the coordinator for the MWBE Coalition, she gets to focus on one of her lifelong interests: parity for women and minorities in business growth and economic development.
The trajectory of her career might make it seem like she lives and breathes Albany and state policy and politics, but Williams says keeping her home life separate from her work life has been essential.
“I’m happily married going on 19 years, and I have two children,” she said. “God, family— I think keeping things in that perspective is what sustains me. I don’t make work my primary concern, and I’m very interested and I’m very passionate about what I do. I love politics but politics is not my love.”
How did you get your start?
I came to Albany by way of the New York State Assembly internship, moving from intern to legislative assistant, then to chief of staff. The internship I did was with Assemblyman Hector Diaz. Then I worked for Gregory Meeks, Gloria Davis in the Bronx, and then Assemblyman Keith Wright. I also became acting director for the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators. From there, after 12 and half years, I decided I wanted to go out and lobby.
On balance, has being a woman helped or hurt?
Just being a woman, and being a woman in this arena, with any position you’re in, there’s going to be challenges. I cannot shape other people’s mind-set, but I can certainly be in control of my actions. I’ve heard ridiculous things—and I still hear it—but you don’t let it affect you. It just lets me know how I have to deal with that person.
What is the worst advice anyone ever gave you?
Oh, that’s easy. Anyone who tells you that they’re “going to take care of you”—run in the opposite direction. Anyone who says, “I’ll do it for you; I’ve got you.” Because to me, that’s a control thing. If someone comes to you and wants to work with you, that’s different. You grow by experience, so don’t take that false sense of comfort. You can’t live within someone’s limitations.
Tags: Albany, assembly, Gloria Davis, Government, Gregory Meeks, Hector Diaz, Jacqueline Williams, Keith Wright, lobbyist, London, Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Coalition, MWBE Coalition, State and Broadway, West Indies, Yearbook
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