NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Ethel James Williams
Ethel James Williams was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and attended public school there. She received her masters degree in social work from Columbia University.
She was appointed Executive Director, National Association of Commission for Women (NACW) in 1986, from which she retired in September 1989. Prior to this appointment, Ms. Williams served five years as Executive Director of the Commission for Women, a position to which Mayor Marion Barry appointed her, in November 1980.
In addition, she has served in a number of positions, including Business and Professional Girls Secretary; YWCA in Houston, Texas and Newark, New Jersey; Director of Adult Activities at the 110th Street Community Center in New York; and Executive Director, Southeast Neighborhood House, in Washington, DC. She also served as Associate Professor at the Howard University Graduate School of Social Work. As Director of the Research/Faculty Interns, she received a fellowship from the U.S. Department of Housing and Community Development and joined the staff of the first DC City Council.
After completion of assignment with the City Council, she served in the Executive Branch of the DC Government. She assumed several key positions, such as Special Assistant to the Director, Department of Resources; Division Chief of the Equal Employment Opportunity and Civil Rights Compliance program; Associate Director of Compliance for the DC Office of Human Rights and Supervisory Social Work Program Specialist to the Minority Business Opportunity Commission.
She worked for three summers at the National Catholic University and served as a consultant in program development for settlement houses in Philadelphia and Baltimore. Also served as program consultant to the National Council of Negro Women.
Ms. Williams was a recipient of a special award for meritorious lifetime service by the Metropolitan Chapter of NASW, March 1990. She was appointed to the Board of Directors, United Black Fund of Greater Washington, 1991, and reelected for a second term to the Board of Directors, Columbia University (New York) School of Social Work. In 1993, she was also appointed to the National Committee on Womens Issues, NASW. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) appointed her as a Womens Issues Specialist in 1996.
She is a public speaker who has contributed to various community organizations as a discussion leader, teacher, and trainer.
Social Work Pioneer - 1997