The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Elynor Williams

Share on Social Media

Information about Elynor Williams

Profile image of Elynor Williams

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Corporate Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black
Favorite Food:
Crab, Shrimp, Lobster
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
This Too Shall Pass.

Birthplace

Born:
10/27/1946
Birth Location:
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Corporate Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black
Favorite Food:
Crab, Shrimp, Lobster
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
This Too Shall Pass.

Birthplace

Born:
10/27/1946
Birth Location:
Baton Rouge
See how Elynor Williams is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Corporate executive Elynor A. Williams was born on October 27, 1946 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Albert and Naomi Williams. She graduated from Central Academy in Palatka, Florida before receiving her B.A. degree in home economics from Spelman College in 1966. Williams then joined Eugene Butler High School in Jacksonville, Florida as a home economics teacher. In 1968, she became an editor and publicist for General Foods Corporation in White Plains, New York. Williams received her M.A. degree in communication arts from Cornell University in 1973. At Cornell, she worked as a tutor for special education projects.

Following the completion of her education, Williams became a communication specialist for North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service. In 1977, she became a senior public relations specialist for Western Electric Company in Greensboro, North Carolina. Williams served as director of corporate affairs for Sara Lee Corporation’s Hanes Group in Winston-Salem, North Carolina from 1983 to 1986 and director of public affairs for the Sara Lee Corporation in Chicago, Illinois from 1985 to 1990. Then, she was promoted to vice president of public responsibility for the Sara Lee Corporation, becoming the company’s first African American corporate officer. During William’s time at Sara Lee, she directed the Sara Lee Foundation, served as executive secretary of the Employee and Public Responsibility Committee for the board of directors and founded the Frontrunner Awards to honor the achievements of outstanding women. After leaving the Sara Lee Corporation, Williams served as president and managing director of Chestnut Pearson and Associates, an international management consulting firm.

Throughout her long career, Williams has demonstrated a continued commitment to her community, becoming involved with numerous local and national organizations. She is a founding board member of the Executive Leadership Council and Spelman College Corporate Women’s Roundtable. Williams has served on the board of directors of the American Cancer Society Foundation, Children’s Memorial Hospital and the Chicago Sinfonietta. She is also deeply dedicated to the advancement of women, especially minority women and has worked with the National Women’s Economic Alliance, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc., the International Women’s Forum and the President’s Council of Cornell University Women. Williams has been recognized many times by national media including being named one of the 50 Top Black Executives in Corporate America by Ebony ; Magazine and one Chicago’s most powerful women by WBBM-TV. She has received the Drum Major for Justice Award from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and was named a National Headliner by Women in Communications. Williams lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Elynor A. Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 19, 2012.

See how Elynor Williams is related to other HistoryMakers
Loading...
Click Here To Explore The Archive Today!
  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Elynor Williams' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Elynor Williams lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Elynor Williams describes her mother's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Elynor Williams describes her mother's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Elynor Williams describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Elynor Williams recalls how her parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Elynor Williams talks about her parents' educational backgrounds
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Elynor Williams describes her parent's personalities and who she takes after
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Elynor Williams describes her earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Elynor Williams remembers her early neighborhood in Mobile, Alabama
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Elynor Williams describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Elynor Williams talks about her early religious experiences
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Elynor Williams recalls her favorite subject at W.H. Council Elementary School in Mobile, Alabama
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Elynor Williams describes her early personality
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Elynor Williams remembers moving to St. Augustine, Florida
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Elynor Williams talks about the race relations in St. Augustine, Florida
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Elynor Williams talks about being bullying as a young child
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Elynor Williams remembers attending Central Academy in Palatka, Florida
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Elynor Williams remembers enrolling at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Elynor Williams recalls attending Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Elynor Williams talks about her civil rights activism
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Elynor Williams remembers her influential professors at Spelman College
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Elynor Williams recalls her plans after graduation from Spellman College
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Elynor Williams remembers teaching at Eugene J. Butler Junior Senior High School in Jacksonville, Florida
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Elynor Williams recalls being hired at General Foods Corporation
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Elynor Williams remembers the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Elynor Williams talks about being featured in Ebony magazine
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Elynor Williams talks about the benefits of affirmative action
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Elynor Williams recalls receiving a scholarship to attend Cornell University in Ithaca, New York
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Elynor Williams remembers encountering a racist professor at Cornell University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Elynor Williams talks about her master's thesis
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Elynor Williams describes her experiences at Cornell University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Elynor Williams talks about working at North Carolina Agricultural Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Elynor Williams remembers being hired by Western Electric Company
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Elynor Williams remembers running for the North Carolina House of Representatives
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Elynor Williams talks about the corporate politics at the Western Electric Company
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Elynor Williams recalls being hired at Hanes Group
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Elynor Williams talks about advocating for women's groups at Hanes Group
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Elynor Williams describes her experiences at Hanes Group
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Elynor Williams talks about diversity at Sara Lee Corporation
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Elynor Williams recalls accepting a position at Sara Lee Corporation
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Elynor Williams remembers moving to Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Elynor Williams talks about her experiences with sexual harassment at Hanes Group
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Elynor Williams remembers co-founding the Executive Leadership Council
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Elynor Williams talks about her women's initiatives at Hanes Group
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Elynor Williams remembers the Frontrunner Awards at Hanes Group
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Elynor Williams talks about retiring from Sara Lee Corporation
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Elynor Williams recalls her decision to retire
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Elynor Williams reflects on her legacy
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Elynor Williams talks about her acquaintances with black female business executives
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Elynor Williams reflects on her life
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Elynor Williams talks about her family, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Elynor Williams talks about her family, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Elynor Williams describes how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Elynor Williams narrates her photographs