She may be just 39, but L. Joy Williams has already made a lasting impact on Brooklyn, the city, and the country.
Williams, a Bedford-Stuyvesant resident, is the founder of consulting firm LJW Strategies, president of the Brooklyn branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, produces a civic education podcast, and is the founding chairman of Higher Heights For America, an organization that works to empower black women leaders.
“There needs to be a permanent push against government, against society to not accept the status quo, and live up to the founding principles of equality and freedom,” she said.
Williams — who comes from a family of Brooklyn pastors — has been serving as the president of the Brooklyn N.A.A.C.P. branch since 2012, becoming its youngest adult branch leader in the United States when she took the post. And like her predecessors, who include prominent black political leader and state legislator Tom Fortune and Lucille Rose, the first woman to become deputy mayor, Williams is serious about creating change.
“L. Joy has come with the same kind of excitement and advocacy work for the branch,” said Hazel Dukes, president of the New York state N.A.A.C.P., noting that membership has increased since Williams became president. “I think she is really becoming just not a leader for the Brooklyn branch, but for the city of New York and indeed the state,” she said.
Outside of her role as the organiztion’s president, Williams has become a prominent name on the national political scene, appearing on news programs to talk politics and social justice.
As the founder of LJW Strategies, Williams is a consultant and advisor to elected officials across the country who are working on a social justice agenda. In 2013, Williams worked on Letitia James’s campaign for New York City’s Public Advocate, helping her become the first black woman to hold an elected citywide position.
This Woman of Distinction has many passions, but she lists voting rights, gun reform, school equality, healthcare disparities, and police brutality as issues that are close to her heart.
She doesn’t just talk about them, though — through her tireless work with Higher Heights for America, she is on a mission to make sure that black voices are heard.
“Joy continues not only to provide the leadership on the board but also rolls up her sleeves,” said Glynda Carr, who is the co-founder of the organization, of which Williams is the founding chair.
“She is really and truly not only a thought partner but an implementer of the work.”
Founder and principal.
Company: LJW Strategies.
Claim to fame: Youngest adult NAACP branch leader in the country.
Favorite Brooklyn Place: My beloved Bed-Stuy neighborhood.
Woman I Admire: Septima Poinsette Clark, she developed literacy and citizenship classes during the civil rights movement to train people how to organize and register to vote.
Motto: I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.