Biz Talks: Episode 3 – Michael L. Williamson
With all the talk of opening businesses back up, one thing not being discussed a lot is childcare. According to a recent survey, one-third of childcare providers in greater New Orleans reported that an extended closure will force them to permanently close. With so many industries and jobs whose workers rely on affordable childcare options, what’s being done to help these providers?
Michael L. Williamson, president and CEO of United Way of Southeast Louisiana talks about what’s being done, as well as the work underway to help area nonprofits — another sector fighting to survive in this new world — in the third episode of Biz Talks.
Williamson has over 30 years of executive level nonprofit management experience, 26 of those years served in the United Way system. In a matter of weeks, he has led United Way’s immediate COVID-19 relief efforts, which have generated more than $7.5 million in local community support through crisis grants, volunteerism, advocacy, and nonprofit partner funding. Williamson is serving on Governor John Bel Edwards’ Resilient Louisiana Economic and Community Development Task Force to help develop solutions to strengthen the state’s economy.
Under Williamson’s leadership as CEO, United Way developed a Blueprint for Prosperity, a plan which informs all of organization’s work with a framework to eradicate poverty in Southeast Louisiana and a bold vision of equitable communities where all individuals are healthy, educated, and economically stable. The Blueprint included an expansion of the traditional United Way granting process with the addition of collaborative grants to drive systems-level change and advance the speed at which the needle is moved on poverty.
Williamson is committed to a focus on community outcomes as the top strategy for increasing accountability and maintaining United Ways’ leadership in philanthropy. He has worked to strengthen United Way’s public-private partnerships at the local, state, and federal level to create scalable community building efforts while creating and leveraging the state’s only United Way advocacy program, which has been responsible for countless legislative advancements since its inception.
Some of United Way’s most significant challenges and successes have come in the wake of disaster – Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Isaac, the BP Oil Spill, the August 2016 Floods, and most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic.