May 31, 2007
In 1990, Dawn Williams was a recent business school grad who wanted to reconnect with the University. She heard about a downtown Seattle alumni lunch and thought that would be a good start. But the turnout was “embarrassing,” she recalls.
Afterwards, she told herself, “Don’t complain about something unless you are willing to do something about it.” The basic idea of a lunch series was sound, she thought; it just needed better execution.
So Williams worked with other business alumni to revamp the offerings.
Through some arm-twisting, they were able to attract high-powered executives who, in turn, drew sellout audiences.
And that was just the beginning of Williams’ work as an active alum — work that has led to her selection for the UW Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award. Her first big achievement was unifying three different alumni groups — one for BAs, one for MBAs and one for the Executive MBA program — into one business alumni association. That led to her joining the UWAA’s Board of Trustees.
A financial adviser at Smith Barney, Williams became the association’s treasurer, and in that role she helped ensure that life dues and income from credit card agreements were banked in the UW’s end In 2003, Williams became president of the UWAA, a job she enjoyed so much that in her first month she attended 42 alumni meetings and events. But she claims to enjoy it all.
“The best part for me,” she says, “was the camaraderie, just being with my fellow Huskies working to support the University.”