My name is Michael Williams and I’m excited and honored to be the new Executive Director for Citizens Project. Before I share a bit of my background, I’d like to offer an extremely sincere thank you to Erin and Lori for working above and beyond to guide CP through a difficult time that was unprecedented for all of us. They came to CP in smaller roles and both have worked tirelessly to ensure that we are in a great place as an organization. They are making my job much easier by helping me in my transition. Please take some time if you’re able and email them a thank you note.
I am a Colorado native and attended Colorado Springs District 11 schools from PreK-12th grade. I grew up and still live on the Southeast side of the city. I learned at an early age, because of so many who looked out for my family in a positive way, that community is everything. I spent a lot of time in my youth doing normal things that kids do; striving to do the best I could academically, playing sports, and volunteering (which was an absolute requirement in my household). This led me while at Mitchell High School to join the student council, become a peer counselor, and through that, be a part of an international program that helped students transitioning to Colorado Springs in military families find a secure and comfortable landing spot in our community. My parents made sure we understood that we couldn’t realize our potential as a community if we weren’t looking out for one another. Fast-forwarding to my early college life, while attending the University of Northern Colorado, my father fell very ill. We later found out he had brain cancer and within a year, he passed away. This led me to a career in financial services as I saw what my mom and dad were doing, while something, wasn’t the best regarding their financial situation. I entered into a finance career from an equity lens; how can I help low to middle-income families, like I grew up in, maximize what they’re doing to have a better life financially for their families? I am grateful that I was personally able to help over 500 people have a better life, and that the organization has impacted a few thousand lives around the country in a positive way.
In the past five to seven years I’ve spent a lot of time volunteering around Colorado Springs School District 11, and also partnering in the community with fantastic organizations like Men of Influence, and the Chinook Center. I was lucky enough to meet some wonderful leaders in our community and recently co-founded an organization called Neighbors for Education. Within 4 months our group has held local school board members accountable, educated the public on what’s going on, worked on effective ways to bring change to our schools, and we are committed to continuing to ensure that school is a place of inclusion for ALL students.
Looking forward, with this being Citizens Project’s 30th year, I’m extremely excited to celebrate what we’ve done and help lead us through a period of growth and impact. Citizens Project and its core values of Equity, Inclusion, and Justice, are needed from our organization more now than at any time in recent memory.
Please reach out and let me know how I can be of help and how we can work towards inspiring each other to become fearless and bold advocates, as well as engaging voices that empower and challenge our entire community to embrace equity, inclusion, and justice for ALL.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and I look forward to getting to work.