Fay H. Williams


Fay H. Williams has made it her life mission to fight for the rights of women and minorities. For decades, she has championed for Central Indiana to be a place of inclusiveness that embraces diversity and opportunities for all.

Growing up in Texas, Williams remembers a spectrum of influences from community-minded people. Her earliest memory is of a teacher, Mrs. Delee Curtis, who popped corn in a pan, poured syrup over it and wrapped the sticky balls to sell at school fundraisers, raising money to help others. 

Later, in a college constitutional law class, William realized that her father’s efforts as a union organizer were about much more than Christmas toy drives. His union also helped finance landmark civil rights cases.

Once enrolled in a historically Black college, Williams became an activist herself. The expectation set by the college president -- the first African Williams ever met -- was that students would volunteer time   beyond the campus boundaries.   

So when she came to Indianapolis prepared for a law career, Williams was already a member of the NAACP and the YMCA. Those connections laid the foundation for a legacy to Central Indiana of “significant and far reaching contributions to the advancement and protection of the rights of women, people of color, the disenfranchised and other vulnerable people,” according to her 100 Heroes nominator Patzetta Trice.

Since 1955, the list of organizations for which Williams has served as a board member includes the American Red Cross, Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Indianapolis Economic Development Corporation and United Way of Central Indiana.  

At United Way, she joined Bill Mays, a businessman and philanthropist, to launch Minority Key Club, now Diversity Leadership Circle. This initiative became the cornerstone for the organization’s lasting commitment to inclusiveness and diversity when it comes to tapping the talents, leadership and resources of the whole community.

Williams is also credited as a founder of the Indianapolis Chapter of Coalition of 100 Black Women and served as a founding board member of the Indianapolis Urban League and Girls Inc. of Greater Indianapolis.

“For someone who did not grow up here, there can be a feeling of being an outsider,” Williams reflected.

What her actions make clear is that Williams never let such a feeling stop her from advancing and modeling the idea that people from diverse backgrounds and experiences can  -- and do -- make a community stronger and better.