GET TO KNOW ME
Q: Where were you born?
A: I was born in Selma, Alabama.
Q: Who are your parents?
A: My mother is Dorothy Chatmon, retired Registered Nurse and former Diabetes Educator for the Dallas County Office of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. My father is Jimmy Williams, retired Norfolk-Southern train engineer.
Q: How would you describe yourself in ONE word?
Q: Why "driven"?
A: The word driven accurately describes my focused commitment and resourcefulness. When I make a commitment I work very hard to honor it. I am a responsible, progressive woman who understands the importance of love, loyalty, and respect.
Q: Where do you work?
A: I am currently employed as the Grants Program Manager and Public Relations Director with Selma AIR (www.SelmaAIR.org). I also serve as a Program Manager with the Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth, and Reconciliation specializing in Sustainable Tourism and Economic Development.
Q: What school did you attend?
A: I attended Selma High School and graduated from the Alabama School of Mathematics and Science. I attended Georgetown University and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Political Science along with a minor degree in Communications from the Pennsylvania State University.
Q: What do you see as your greatest strength?
A: I believe my greatest strength is my ability to not only provide vision but to also organize and execute with excellence. Working in leadership roles as well as within the community, this is an important combination, as not all spaces will offer the same level of forward-thinking or expertise. I believe it is important to establish the goal or vision, whether it is for a day-long project or a multi-year program; as a visionary, I most often begin with the end in mind. I am highly organized, effective, and efficient in my use of resources. When confronted with a lack of resources, I am excited to work with others to gather information, share the findings, incorporate the findings into creative solutions, and steadily move towards the established goal.
Q: Why are you running to become the Selma City Council President?
A: I am running to become Selma's next City Council President because our city needs courageous, compassionate leadership at the helm of our Council. Selma does not need a co-Mayor or a Vice Mayor, but rather, I believe we need and deserve healthy neighborhoods, a healthy government, and a healthy economy; I am fully confident I am the person to help facilitate our city's focused growth as Council President. I am willing and prepared to offer ethical and capable leadership of the Selma City Council. I plan to work on behalf of our entire community, refusing to be bought out by those who make large campaign contributions or expect political favors. Selma must take itself off the political auction block which has cost us collective growth and prosperity. As the Council President, I will stand strong against political games, defamatory rhetoric, and treachery. I will lead with love, seek guidance from experts, and work with all the council members to grow our city forward.
Q: What experience do you have that makes you qualified to serve?
A: One of the primary functions the the City Council President is to serve as the presiding officer during city council meetings and work sessions. Thanks to local pioneers like Mrs. Nancy G. Sewell, Mrs. Athelstein Johnson, and Mrs. Gayla Okeke (deceased), I am well-versed in Robert's Rules of Order and have the demonstrated ability to conduct business meetings in an efficient manner. I have 20 years of experience working in the not-for-profit field, with over 13 years of program management and public relations expertise. Additionally I am skilled in resource management, strategic planning, marketing, budgeting, community organizing, and public speaking.
Q: What do you see as Selma's biggest problems?
A: I think Selma's biggest problems are low expectations and a lack of commitment to collaboration. When we don't wake up with expectancy, when we don't expect much of our children, when we don't expect much from our churches, our leaders, or our community at large, we become complacent and stagnant. We make this worse when we refuse to collaborate. When we turn to back-biting or cut off communication as a result of experiencing a disagreement, we stifle progress. Selma has to
raise the bar. We must expect more. We must become drawn to collective purpose more than personalities and refuse to accept just any old thing people throw at us. We must hold ourselves, our children, our schools, our religious institutions, and our leaders accountable for helping to make our community a better place to live, work, worship, and play.
Q: How would you describe the type of leadership you would provide?
A: I would describe the type of leadership I plan to provide as straightforward, inclusive, and focused. As Selma City Council President I will maintain a cognitive, clear, and transparent relationship with the Mayor as well as other council members and theresidents of Selma.
Q: Your campaign slogan is "Let's Grow Selma"; Why?
A: "Let's Grow Selma" is not merely a campaign slogan, but it demonstrates my commitment to working hard on efforts that will help our city thrive. As Selma's next City Council President I will ignite hope, serve with humility, and support our city's healing. Our city deserves to thrive; anything that thrives will eventually start to grow, so I say "Let's Grow Selma!"
Q: What do you say to those who don't think growth is a good idea?
A: I would not for one second assert the idea of any growth being good growth, after all, we prune trees and pull up weeds for a reason. I assure those who may not think growth is a good idea that the forward progress I am referring to requires a clear vision, collective action by effective team players, and consistent assessment. Selma does not have to and should not lose it's small-town charm to experience growth. Once elected to serve as Selma's City Council President I will help to create transparent, focused growth.
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A: Whenever I have free time, I enjoy spending as much of that time with my son and other loved ones. I like road trips, shopping, and productive conversations. I am a curious person, so I enjoy researching various topics and I am not afraid to say Google is the most used app on my phone.
Q: What was the best book you've read in the last six months?
A: The best book I was able to read in the past six months was Taking the War Out of Our Words by Sharon Strand Ellison. In this text, Ellison describes our traditional system for communicating which often includes defensiveness, withdrawal, and the counterattack. She then walks readers
through the steps of non-defensive communication which includes gathering information, being courageous in our dialogue, creating security through predictability, and accepting imperfection. I believe there is always room for personal improvement and we should all strive to grow better on a daily basis. That being said, fine-tuning my ability to practice peaceful and powerful conversations will continue to be an important attribute throughout my life and certainly during my tenure as Selma's next City Council President. I would recommend this book to anyone in a leadership position and in particular to my fellow council members as we work towards establishing shared agreements among the group; shared agreements will be important to maintain honor and respect of one another and our city.
Q: What's the most memorable quote you've heard?
A: I have been watching the Housewives of Atlanta for years (I know it's sad, but it's true) and many seasons ago Kim "Tootie" Fields made the comment to the other ladies featured on the show, "we need to learn the difference between information and instigation." I love that quote because it speaks to the idea of having good intentions and maintaining high expectations certainly among friends, but even as we interact with colleagues and associates. Misguided or 'messy' conversations can sometimes cause irreparable damage.
Q: What is your favorite 'guilty' pleasure?
A: I'd have to say other than watching the silliness of some reality television shows, it's got to be Girl Scout Samoa cookies. Although we have to wait for the once-a-year sale of the famous chocolate-coated treats, a really close substitution for the other is readily available at the local Walmart...and for half the price! Hint: they're sold under the Great Value brand and on the cookie aisle.
Q: Do you think it is better to be liked or respected?
A: Throughout my entire life I have thought being respected is what we should all strive to become. Being fair, honest, and reliable are character traits I hold dear. From my grandparents Alonzo and Ella Chatmon, to my uncles H. James Chatmon and Lawrence Williams, I have been encouraged to be an upright person who others could always respect. When I consider what society seems to value however, I must acknowledge many of us have not always chosen to support those we respect but rather those we like. It seems many of us tend to find it easier to overlook immoral, unethical, illegal, and incompetent actions when we 'like' someone. Despite society's reverence for like-ability, I have to choose respect. It's what my family
taught me and what I believe to be one of the basic tenants of a just society.
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