Council Chief of Staff

Dr. Joan M. Williams serves as the Chief of Staff for Akron City Council.  In that capacity, she serves as liaison between the Office of the Council President and the Office of the Mayor, other departments of the City, County, State and Federal government offices. Additionally, she is responsible for planning, directing, and coordinating the overall operation of the Office of the President, Council Leadership, and Council-led Initiatives. 

Dr. Williams served as the former District Outreach Coordinator for The United States House of Representatives serving the stakeholders of the Eleventh Congressional District of Ohio, formerly represented by Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge. There, she directed the development and execution of key outreach strategies focused on maximizing congressional member exposure in the district and driving community connection to constituents to resolve federal issues. 

An experienced human services professional and collaborative bridge-builder, Dr. Williams has over 30 years of experience in building sustainable partnerships in the non-profit, public, and government sectors. 

Throughout her career, she noted that governmental regulations and policies regularly conflict with addressing the unexpected, and often unthinkable, involved in meeting the needs of people.  It is this reality that fuels Dr. Williams’ efforts to contribute to the development of legislation that builds bridges of communication and fosters partnerships between community stakeholders and all levels of government. 

In 2023, Dr. Williams was selected to participate in The Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP) sponsored by the Institute for Education Leadership in Washington, D.C., a unique professional development laboratory in which Fellows come to understand, strengthen, and apply fellowship-acquired knowledge and skills to prepare and make significant policy change within or areas adjacent to P-20 education. Dr. Williams’ Policy Project proposed the creation of a Free Pilot Pre-K Program for low-income families in Akron, Ohio.

In 2024, Dr. Williams was appointed to the National League of Cities (NLC) 2024 Race, Equity And Leadership (REAL) Council. As a member of NLC’s REAL Council, Dr. Williams will play a key role among a diverse group of local leaders to encourage collaboration, networking and the development of resources and programs beneficial to communities that share demographics, size or location that can be replicated across the country.

As the former Executive Director of a nonprofit organization, Dr. Williams is passionate about organizational sustainability.  She has labored tirelessly to increase organizational impact, expand access to services, and position organizations for greater levels of financial solvency and overall effectiveness. Her work continues to focus on advancing human services, improving health and wellness, eradicating food insecurity, combatting gun violence, reimagining community policing, and fostering economic development in impacted communities. 

As a Licensed Social Worker and Ordained Minister, Dr. Williams’ expertise represents a distinctive marriage between social action and gospel engagement which has proven relevant internationally in the nations of Ireland, Zambia, Aruba, Nigeria, South Africa, Curacao, Cuba, St. Maarten, Brazil, and Jamaica.  She is the author of “Kinship, Foster Care in New York State - An African American Perspective”, published in Fostering Kinship – An international Perspective on Kinship Foster Care, and Opposing Transformation: The Role of Resistance to Change in Church Sustainability” available on Amazon. Women’s Day magazine recognized her accomplishments as an organizer of a New York City Walkers for Wellness Program.  Additionally, the New York City Police Department has recognized her commitment to the Harlem community and support of local precinct community policing efforts. 

Dr. J, as she is affectionately called, is a first-generation American born to immigrant parents from the beautiful island of Jamaica who taught her the value of education. Their love, teachings and support undergirded her as she pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Colgate University, a Master of Science in Education from SUNY College at Brockport, and a Master of Social Work from Columbia University School of Social Work.  Dr. J. earned a Doctorate from Alliance Theological Seminary.  She is an active member of the Chief of Staff Association and serves as a Member of the Advisory Board of Salvation Army Summit County Area Services.

p 330-375-2258