Karen Williams (’93) is a career coach at Management Leadership for Tomorrow, a career development institution that works with high-potential African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans. Previously, she served as the executive director of UCLA Anderson’s Center for MEMES. She has also held posts with Hearst Magazines, Disney, Time Inc. (with Essence Magazine) and USC’s Marshall School of Business.
Williams is currently the president of the Anderson African American Alumni Association (5As). She was gracious enough to answer a few questions from the UCLA Anderson blog.
Q: What are the purpose and goals of the group?
5As is a forum for black alumni to convene, communicate and contribute to mutual professional development and the cultivation of Anderson African-American graduates both present and future. We are committed to building and strengthening the Anderson African-American community.
The goals are as follows:
- To enhance the professional and personal development of our members at all stages of their career journey.
- To support the academic, career and personal development of current students.
- To increase the number of talented African-American students applying and choosing to attend Anderson.
- To assist in identifying, recruiting and retaining underrepresented African-American administrators and faculty.
- To create initiatives for members to serve the communities in which we live and work.
I was an officer with the Black Business Students Association (BBSA) when I was a student, 1991 to 1993. I wanted to support the reboot of the group. I was asked by the head of the affinity groups (Monique Jones, ’93) to be president.
Q: What is the membership like in terms of numbers? How do you recruit members? Do you have a relationship with the BBSA?
We have a relationship with BBSA. We partner with them on programming during the year. In fact, in August 2016 we partnered on a very successful new student welcome reception. The event was attended by 17 students including full-time, FEMBA and EMBA.
Q: At present, what types of activities does the group engage in? How does the group connect to the greater alumni network and to activities on campus?
Currently we are looking to program one event each quarter. In addition to the August new student reception we also hosted a Worldwide Welcome Weeks event in October. The program featured a conversation with Vanessa Morrison, the president of Fox Studios Animation. We will also host a reception during the A Days weekend and host a second-year graduation brunch in June.
Q: What are you goals for the future? Where would you like to see the group in a few years?
I would like to see 5As accomplish the following:
- Most important, see more African-American students choose to attend Anderson.
- Increase the number of members who actively volunteer. We need volunteer support beyond the board in the areas of marketing, programming and fundraising.
- Launch an executive leadership speaker series.
- Launch a 5As student scholarship.