Cynthia D. Williams
As the oldest of five children in a family that was among the first to racially integrate University City, Cynthia Williams has made it her personal mission to empower those who feel marginalized or powerless to find their voice.
Since graduating from the Brown School’s Masters of Social Work program, Cynthia has served as an integral member of the School for nearly 33 years. As Assistant Dean for Field Education and Community Partnerships, Cynthia is well known for her patience, intelligence, and ability to find solutions that unify people while respecting individual voices. She was instrumental to the success of the School’s International Student Group and she played a pivotal role in the creation of Mosaic, a student group designed to provide a safe place for students from multiple ethnic backgrounds to come together and embrace differences. Cynthia oversees the Brown School’s relationships with over 400 nonprofit organizations, and she is responsible for over 170,000 hours of student service to our community each year. Her close working relationship with students, agency instructors, and faculty is remarkable; where Cynthia senses a need, she finds a way to fill it.
Cynthia’s dedication to the St. Louis community extends far beyond her professional responsibilities. Since 1988, she has served as a foster parent to children whose behavioral issues impeded adoption. She has also taken an active role in developing coursework and providing training to assist birth families during the reunification process, and to support other foster families in navigating the challenges of caring for displaced and high-risk children. Cynthia works tirelessly to train and empower women. She has mobilized community groups to support a local domestic violence shelter and the nonprofit Let’s Start, which helps formerly incarcerated women integrate back into society.
As apparent in her numerous community commitments, “service is not just something that Cynthia does; it is deeply ingrained into every facet of her life.” Her nominator, Brown School Dean Edward Lawlor, asserted that, “even in a field where compassion and commitment to social justice are the norm, Cynthia is extraordinary.”