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February 20, 2023 / 2023 Power 50

2023 Power 50: 10. 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. 

He has focused the 97-year-old foundation on breaking down structural racism as well as promoting equity in social and economic mobility.

Under his tutelage the foundation has issued grants for everything from improved police training and youth mental health services to food security, entrepreneurs and artists of color. The foundation has also invested in reentry programs for people returning from incarceration and neighborhood financial literacy.

Two words that could describe Williams’ tenure at the Foundation are balance and partnerships.

For one, he has to balance the needs of, among others, the arts and cultural organizations that are vital to the region with the push for equality and mobility.

Another balance he must strike is between the needs of urban and suburban communities.

In 2018 he and his staff did a listening tour of all 29 towns the foundation serves. From that came the establishment of 29 separate community funds, independent of town government, for each town. Town residents have used the funds for a wide variety of social, cultural and recreational needs.

Williams seeks to partner with whomever can help move a project along. Since day one, and particularly during the pandemic, the foundation has partnered with the city of Hartford on everything from providing food to the hungry and aid for small businesses to Wi-Fi expansion.

Williams, a former mayor of Youngstown, Ohio, serves on the boards of the MetroHartford Alliance, AdvanceCT and is a member of the Governor’s Workforce Council. 

Prior to joining the foundation, Williams served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, where he led the federal economic development agenda for the United States. 

Find out who else is in the 2023 Power 50.

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