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Rufus Williams

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Information about Rufus Williams

Profile image of Rufus Williams

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Accountant
Education Chief Executive
Financial Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red
Favorite Food:
Catfish
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Bermuda
Favorite Quote:
I Am The Master Of My Fate, I Am The Captain Of My Soul.

Birthplace

Born:
12/30/1956
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Accountant
Education Chief Executive
Financial Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red
Favorite Food:
Catfish
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Bermuda
Favorite Quote:
I Am The Master Of My Fate, I Am The Captain Of My Soul.

Birthplace

Born:
12/30/1956
Birth Location:
Chicago
See how Rufus Williams is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Accountant and Chicago Board of Education President Rufus Williams, Jr. was born on December 30, 1956 in Chicago, Illinois to Dicye Belle and Rufus Williams, Sr. Williams was raised in a household of six children in the North Lawndale and West Garfield Park communities on Chicago’s Westside. During his childhood, he attended Crown Elementary School and Dvorak Elementary School before graduating from Morton Upper Grade Center. In 1974, he graduated from Orr High School where he was a member of the school’s basketball team.

Without the finances to pay for a higher education, Williams postponed his plans of attending college to work at a fast food restaurant. He eventually earned enough money, received a scholarship and with the help of his parents, enrolled at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In 1978, he graduated magna cum laude with his B.S. degree in accounting in 1978. Williams was then hired as a certified public accountant for Arthur Anderson & Company. He worked there until 1988 when he became the corporate audit manager for the Baxter Healthcare Corporation. Williams later went on to work for Harpo Entertainment Group as a senior manager. There, he was instrumental in establishing the operational structure and financial management of Harpo Studios. Oprah Winfrey then encouraged him to follow his dreams of becoming an entrepreneur. In 2000, Williams founded Olympus LLC and began providing business management, contract negotiations and career development sources. His clients consisted of a variety of entertainers and athletes including veteran baseball player Gary Sheffield.

Williams was appointed to the Chicago Public School (CPS) Board in 2005 and served on the board of trustees of the CPS Teachers Pension and Retirement Fund before succeeding Michael Scott as the school board president in 2006. As president, Williams has helped to form the Charitable Fund for Inner-City Athletic Equipment, a fund that provides athletic shoes to CPS student athletes from low income families. In 2007, Williams launched Real Men Read which was designed to encourage a love of literacy in young boys, while encouraging long lasting school-community partnerships.

In addition to serving as president for the Better Boys Foundation, Williams has served as Vice Chairman and Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of Providence-St. Mel School and as the president of the Local School Council of Whitney M. Young Magnet High School.

Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 22, 2008.

See how Rufus Williams is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Rufus Williams' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Rufus Williams lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Rufus Williams talks about his maternal family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Rufus Williams talks about his maternal family's migration to the North
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Rufus Williams talks about his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Rufus Williams talks about his parents' migration to Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Rufus Williams considers how he resembles his parents
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Rufus Williams lists the neighborhoods where his family lived in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Rufus Williams recalls his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Rufus Williams describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Rufus Williams talks about gang activity on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois in the 1960s
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Rufus Williams talks about his activities with the Boys Brotherhood Republic growing up in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Rufus Williams remembers his experience at Anton Dvorak Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois and its principal, HistoryMaker Barbara A. Sizemore
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Rufus Williams recalls his influential teachers at Anton Dvorak Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Rufus Williams remembers meeting Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1966 and the emergence of the Black Panthers in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Rufus Williams remembers segregation in the 1950s and 1960s
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Rufus Williams talks about his experiences at Albert Grannis Lane Technical High School and Orr Academy High School during the 1970s in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Rufus Williams remembers the aftermath of the 1968 Chicago Riots on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Rufus Williams describes fashion styles in the 1960s and 1970s in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Rufus Williams describes his experience with religion while growing up
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Rufus Williams recalls the death of his oldest sister in 1977
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Rufus Williams describes his freshman year at Albert Grannis Lane Technical High School in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Rufus Williams describes his freshman year at Albert Grannis Lane Technical High School in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Rufus Williams remembers his hopes and dreams during his time at Orr Academy High School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Rufus Williams recalls life lessons he learned in eighth grade at Morton Upper Grade Center in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Rufus Williams remembers playing on Orr Academy High School's basketball team in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Rufus Williams talks about the gang presence on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois during the 1960s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Rufus Williams describes how his motivation to be successful protected him in his neighborhood
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Rufus Williams recalls selecting a college to attend
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Rufus Williams talks about his siblings' college education
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Rufus Williams remembers not being able to afford college
  • Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Rufus Williams recalls being robbed while working at Burger King
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Rufus Williams remembers an influential history teacher at Orr Academy High School
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Rufus Williams recalls being admitted into Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Rufus Williams describes the impact of receiving an academic scholarship from the Better Boys Foundation
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Rufus Williams talks about choosing a career path in college
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Rufus Williams talks about playing basketball at Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Rufus Williams remembers pledging Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity at Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Rufus Williams describes his social and academic experiences at Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Rufus Williams shares advice that made him successful at Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Rufus Williams describes the benefits of attending a historically black university
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Rufus Williams recalls joining Arthur Andersen and Co. in Chicago, Illinois right after his college graduation
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Rufus Williams describes being hired at Arthur Andersen and Co. in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Rufus Williams describes the training process at Arthur Andersen and Co. in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Rufus Williams recalls working toward a promotion at Arthur Andersen and Co. in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Rufus Williams describes trying to become a manager at Arthur Andersen and Co. in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Rufus Williams recalls two difficult assignments at Arthur Andersen and Co. in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Rufus Williams talks about his family life and work with the Better Boys Foundation during his time at Arthur Andersen and Co. in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Rufus Williams explains his decision to leave Arthur Andersen and Co. in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Rufus Williams explains his decision to work at Baxter Healthcare Corporation in Deerfield, Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Rufus Williams describes joining Harpo Studios, Inc. in Chicago, Illinois and moving to the Lincoln Park neighborhood
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Rufus Williams recalls his aspirations when he became vice controller at Harpo Studios Inc. in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Rufus Williams remembers working with Oprah Winfrey to help set up the Oprah Winfrey Foundation
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Rufus Williams remembers his introspective conversations with Oprah Winfrey while working at Harpo Studios Inc. in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Rufus Williams talks about his experience working at Harpo Studios, Inc. in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Rufus Williams explains his decision to remain at Harpo Studios Inc. in Chicago Illinois in 1991
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Rufus Williams explains why he decided to leave Harpo Studios Inc. in Chicago, Illinois in 2000
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Rufus Williams talks about the origin and evolution of his wealth management company, Olympus LLC, in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Rufus Williams describes negotiating Gary Sheffield's baseball contract
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Rufus Williams comments on the Detroit Tigers 2008 baseball team
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Rufus Williams explains how he was appointed president of the Chicago Board of Education in 2006
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Rufus Williams reflects upon the importance of his role as president of the Chicago Board of Education in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Rufus Williams talks about former Chicago Board of Education presidents, HistoryMakers The Honorable Kenneth Smith, Sr. and Michael Scott, Sr.
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Rufus Williams considers the ways to improve the education of African American children
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Rufus Williams describes starting the Real Men Read mentoring and literacy program in Chicago Public Schools
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Rufus Williams remembers Bill Cosby's 2006 speech at Chicago Public Schools' Power of Parents conference
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Rufus Williams reflects upon his goals as president of the Chicago Board of Education
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Rufus Williams considers some of the challenges he faces as president of the Chicago Board of Education
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Rufus Williams recalls a conversation about education with HistoryMaker Barbara A. Sizemore
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Rufus Williams considers how long he will serve as president of the Chicago Board of Education
  • Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Rufus Williams reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Rufus Williams reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Rufus Williams describes how he would like to be remembered