Crain's Chicago Business names Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.) to its 2021 list of "Notable Black Leaders and Executives"
Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.), of counsel in Jones Day's Chicago Office, has been named to Crain's Chicago Business' list of "Notable Black Leaders and Executives" for 2021. Honorees have demonstrated that they have "made a difference in contributing to the Black community in Chicago by helping to open opportunities to Black Americans."
Judge Williams co-chairs the Diversity, Inclusion & Advancement Committee in Jones Day's Chicago Office. Crain's editors recognized her in part for the important non-profit she founded, Just The Beginning - A Pipeline Organization, which aims to increase diversity in the law through programming for Black students and students of color. She also founded Jumpstart, a multi-day program for incoming Black and underrepresented law students from six Chicago law schools and the University of Illinois; over 200 law students participated in 2021.
Additionally, Judge Williams co-founded the Black Women Lawyers' Association of Chicago. She also co-founded Minority Legal Education Resources, which has prepared thousands in Chicago for the bar. She has mentored countless Black attorneys in Chicago; her mentees have become civic, law firm, and corporate leaders.
"Judge Williams has been a trailblazer, a trusted leader, and a mentor to—and sponsor of—so many," said Tina Tabacchi, Partner-in-Charge of the Chicago Office. "We are fortunate to have Judge Williams as a member of our community in Chicago, and celebrate with her this well-deserved recognition for her contributions to advancing the rule of law and diversity and inclusion in our profession."
Judge Williams heads Jones Day's efforts in advancing the rule of law in Africa, where she is devoted to promoting the effective delivery of justice. She has partnered with judiciaries, attorneys, NGOs, and the U.S. Departments of Justice and State to lead training programs in Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. She also has taught at the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
Judge Williams was nominated in 1985 by President Reagan to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, making her the first woman of color to serve on a district court in the three-state Seventh Circuit. She was nominated in 1999 by President Clinton to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, becoming the first judge of color to sit on that court and the third Black woman to serve on any federal circuit court. She brings her vast experience on the bench to serve as a resource to the lawyers in Jones Day's trial and appellate practices.