2021 Onyx Woman Leadership Award Honoree: Felicity Williams Says Strong Black Women Played a Pivotal Role in Her Success

Programs and Policy Manager,
Special Assistant to the President and CEO
Hill Community Development Corporation
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What role has the support of other women played in your success?

Women have undoubtedly played a pivotal role in my success from my upbringing to my current career.  I grew up in a home with three, strong Black women; my mother, my grandmother, and my great aunt. In addition, I spent significant time with another great aunt who was a frequent guest at our family home.  They modeled strength, courage, perseverance, love, integrity, and ingenuity. All of them gave me a passion for the community. In fact, I have followed in my Great Aunt Vivian’s footsteps by working in the Hill District, where she served as Principal of Madison Elementary for almost 20 years.  Her work closing the racial achievement gap is the inspiration for the work I do today. Working in the Hill District, I have benefited from the mentorship from my President and CEO, Marimba Milliones. Marimba has presented me with the opportunity to grow, develop, and lead as a young professional.

Are you where you thought you would be and how did you get there?

No, but I think I ended up somewhere better.  I thought I would be working for a for-profit, or a series of for-profits, providing business consultation on mergers, acquisitions, finance, and other corporate-related initiatives.  Instead, I am helping revitalize a historic Black community with a resident-lead vision, helping to improve the lives of the people living in that community through small business development and homeownership, and helping to create a policy that will result in equitable development and reinvestment in Black communities citywide.  I got here by taking a leap into the unknown. I left my pursuit of the corporate sector in the DMV and moved back to Pittsburgh where I became involved in several grassroots organizations. I later joined Representative Wheatley’s office to work on the Peace and Justice Initiative, a policy agenda for Black people in Pittsburgh, before joining the Hill CDC where I currently work.

What does receiving the Onyx Woman Leadership Award mean to you?

This award is meaningful to me, because of the role women have played in my success.  It is an honor to be recognized among this group of women, many of whom I admire and have been fortunate to have worked or interacted with in some capacity.  It is especially meaningful to be recognized this year with the theme of “Black Women Making a Difference” celebrating some of Pittsburgh’s top women in leadership roles for their support and commitment to other women, businesses, social justice, and in our communities at large.  I am proud to have dedicated my career to racial and economic justice: advancing, uplifting, and advocating for Black people. This award is both a testament to that work and motivation, when the work gets hard, to keep pushing forward.  

On Sunday, July 11, 2021, we will have a private ceremony to celebrate Katie and other awesome women just like her.

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