A longtime leader of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs’ Alumni Society is being recognized for his service to the School and his efforts to get alumni more involved.
Jeff Williams (MA ‘96) received the 2020 University of Minnesota’s Alumni Service Award at a virtual ceremony September 24. He is one of eight alumni recognized for their “major impact” on the University, its schools, colleges, or the Alumni Association.
Williams fits that description, according to Humphrey School Dean Laura Bloomberg, who nominated him for the award.
“Jeff’s devotion to the Humphrey School is strong and abiding,” she said. During his six years on the Alumni Society’s Board of Directors (2012-2018), including one year as its president, “Jeff recognized the importance of celebrating the achievements of our alumni and the need to connect them with our current students. The Alumni Service Award is a fitting tribute to Jeff’s highly effective, enthusiastic, and very generous service to the School.”
Williams has built a successful career focused on designing and carrying out policy strategies and developing meaningful collaborations. Currently, he is director of the Community Data and Research Lab at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Prior to joining the Johnson Center in 2020, Williams was chief executive officer of Public Sector Consultants, a nonpartisan public policy research firm in Lansing, Michigan.
During his tenure on the alumni board, Williams encouraged the board to take a leadership role in the annual Give to the Max Day fundraising efforts, created an Alumni-in-Residence program to invite Humphrey School graduates to share their professional expertise with students and fellow alumni, served as a career mentor to students, and promoted the tracking and assessment of alumni engagement with the School.
“Jeff truly personifies what it means to give back,” said Kerrie Blevins, past president of the alumni board. “He had a vision for creating stronger pathways for connections between alumni, their professional fields of practice and service to the school. Jeff’s leadership energized and focused the board, and alumni at large were well organized, motivated and inspired to help the school achieve and sustain its mission.”
At the awards ceremony, Williams said he is honored and humbled to receive the recognition.
“The Humphrey School and the Twin Cities campus were foundational experiences in my life. Classmates challenged me, professors inspired me, and the academic and college staff supported me at every step during graduate school,” Williams said. “I’m passionate about connecting data to people to action. So there was no better home for me than a place committed to advancing the common good. I was honored to return as an alumnus, and to advance and support the School.”
Although he’s no longer serving on the Humphrey School alumni board, Williams is involved with a number of community activities; he is a member of the audit committee of the $3 billion Michigan State University Federal Credit Union; the board of the Delta Institute, a nonprofit that focuses on sustainable development and environmental stewardship in the Great Lakes; and the Board of Visitors of James Madison College at Michigan State University, among others.
A native of Lansing, Williams earned his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Michigan.