Forty Under 40: Mike Williams

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 784 views 

Class of 2020 Forty Under 40 Mike Williams Director of Development Northwest Arkansas Food Bank, Bethel Heights

More than a paycheck, Mike Williams is pursuing a mission — connecting gifts of food with people who need food.

Williams, a native of Memphis, Tenn., came from a family that was poor but also modeled generosity, so he relates to both a donor and one with a need. He’s grateful that Northwest Arkansans hold their food bank in high esteem.

“Our donors are incredibly passionate people who couldn’t sleep at night if they knew someone was going without a meal,” Williams said.

As director of development for the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank, Williams helped set a goal to distribute 11 million meals each year by 2024, which is the estimated number of meals people won’t be able to secure on their own. Today the food bank provides 8 million meals to 160 food pantries, shelters and meal programs.

Williams was working for FedEx in 2000 when the company designated him a “loaned executive” to United Way. For 16 weeks, he visited Memphis workplaces raising money for United Way-supported agencies.

“I had clarity the first week that I wanted to serve causes,” Williams said. “Those agencies were not just names. I was raised by a single mom who didn’t graduate high school. We made ends meet through help from these organizations.”

Williams joined United Way in 2005, and in 2010 he moved to Northwest Arkansas to serve as vice president of resource development. He also served as a development director for WorkMatters before learning that the food bank was hiring for the newly-created position of director of development.

Williams said the organization’s focus is on efficiency, trimming costs and addressing root causes.

“How do we shorten the line of those we feed?” he said.

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