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February 20, 2021 / 2021 Power 50

2021 Power 50: 13. Jay Williams

Photo | Contributed Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams addresses a crowd of nonprofit leaders.

Since arriving at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving in 2017, Jay Williams has significantly lifted the profile of the organization, which sits on a $1-billion community fund. In 2020, he led the foundation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit many Hartford nonprofits, small businesses and residents hard, and the racial equality movement.

Jay Williams

The foundation responded by boosting its annual giving by more than a third, providing nonprofits grants of $52.7 million — its highest-ever yearly total.

Major efforts included the foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund, which made more than 200 grants totaling $9.5 million through the end of 2020 for basic needs and improving pandemic safety at area nonprofits.

The foundation also launched a $1.4 million relief program for Hartford-area small businesses that distributed 150 grants of up to $10,000 each, with some of the funding earmarked for enterprises owned by women and people of color.

In partnership with the city of Hartford and Dalio Philanthropies, the foundation also pledged to help fund a network of wireless access points across the city that will give all city residents and businesses free high-speed Wi-Fi access when the project is completed later this year.

A former mayor of Youngstown, Ohio, and member of the Obama administration, Williams has made an outsized impact on the community. During his foundation tenure he has also developed a new strategic plan that focuses on pushing the Hartford region to achieve greater racial, geographic and economic inclusion.

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