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Karen Hastie Williams

Karen Hastie Williams was born on September 30, 1944 in Washington, D.C. to Beryl and William H. Hastie, Jr. Her father was the first African American federal judge appointed to the bench of the Federal District Court in the U.S. Virgin Islands and became the first African American Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1946. In 1949, he was appointed to the Third United States Circuit Court of Appeals, where he would serve for twenty-one years. Judge William H. Hastie along with Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall, and others worked on the cases that led to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision.

Williams graduated from Girls’ High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She received her B.A. degree from Bates College in 1966 and her M.A. degree from Tufts University in 1967. In 1973, she received her J.D. degree from Catholic University of America. She was then hired as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and Judge Spottswood W. Robinson, III of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Williams served as Chief Counsel of the Senate Committee on the Budget from 1977 until 1980. She also served as Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy. In 1982, she was the first African American to joined Crowell & Moring LLP, where she made partner in two years. As a retired partner, she has taken on a new area of expertise, seeking compensation for victims of terrorism.

From 1992 to 1993, Williams served as Chair of the ABA Section of Public Contract Law and became Director of Washington Gas & Light. Williams was appointed by President George W. Bush and served with distinction as a Public Life Member of the Internal Revenue Oversight Board from 2000 to 2003 and was Chair of the Red Cross Governance Advisory Committee.

Williams is a member of the National Contract Management Association, the Black Women Lawyers Association, the National Bar Association and the Women’s Forum of Washington, D.C. Her community activities include service on the Board of Directors of the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights under the Law. She is a member of the Board of Trustees for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund at Amherst College and formerly of the National Cathedral School.

Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 27, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.167

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/27/2007

Last Name

Williams

Maker Category
Middle Name

Hastie

Occupation
Schools

Philadelphia High School for Girls

Ellwood Sch

Saints Peter and Paul School

Columbus Law School

Wagner Gen Louis Ms

Bates College

The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

First Name

Karen

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

WIL39

Favorite Season

Summer

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Warm

Favorite Quote

It Is Not Important To Be The First If You Can't Open The Door For A Second Or Third In Whatever You Do.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

9/30/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Mangoes

Short Description

Corporate lawyer Karen Hastie Williams (1944 - ) was the former director of Washington Gas, and was the first African American to join the law firm Crowell & Moring, LLP, and be made partner.

Employment

Crowell and Moring LLP

Mobil Oil Company

Thurgood Marshall

Spottswood W. Robinson III

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver and Jacobson LLP

U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget

Office of Management and Budget

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Karen Hastie Williams' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Karen Hastie Williams lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Karen Hastie Williams describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Karen Hastie Williams describes her maternal grandfather's career

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Karen Hastie Williams describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Karen Hastie Williams describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Karen Hastie Williams describes her father's education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Karen Hastie Williams describes her father's education and career

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Karen Hastie Williams describes her father's work under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Karen Hastie Williams describes her father's roles in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Karen Hastie Williams describes how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Karen Hastie Williams talks about her father's civil rights activities

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Karen Hastie Williams remembers Thurgood Marshall

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Karen Hastie Williams recalls her father's civil rights casework

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Karen Hastie Williams describes her early aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Karen Hastie Williams describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Karen Hastie Williams describes her elementary school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Karen Hastie Williams describes her transition to public schooling

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Karen Hastie Williams describes General Louis Wagner Junior High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Karen Hastie Williams remembers the Philadelphia High School for Girls in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Karen Hastie Williams describes the East Oak Lane neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Karen Hastie Williams describes her experiences at the Philadelphia High School for Girls

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Karen Hastie Williams recalls her decision to attend Bates College in Lewiston, Maine

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Karen Hastie Williams describes her experiences at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Karen Hastie Williams describes her undergraduate thesis and graduate studies

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Karen Hastie Williams remembers meeting her husband

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Karen Hastie Williams describes her position at the Mobil Oil Corporation

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Karen Hastie Williams talks about her husband and children

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Karen Hastie Williams recalls her decision to attend the Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Karen Hastie Williams remembers the Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Karen Hastie Williams recalls her judicial clerkships

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Karen Hastie Williams talks about her father and Thurgood Marshall

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Karen Hastie Williams describes her career in government

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Karen Hastie Williams recalls her role at the Office of Management and Budget

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Karen Hastie Williams describes the law firm of Crowell and Moring LLP

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Karen Hastie Williams talks about her organizational involvement

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Karen Hastie Williams describes her work with the American Red Cross

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Karen Hastie Williams talks about the leadership of the American Red Cross

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Karen Hastie Williams describes her terrorism casework at Crowell and Moring LLP

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Karen Hastie Williams reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Karen Hastie Williams shares a message to future generations

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

1$5

DATitle
Karen Hastie Williams describes her father's roles in the U.S. Virgin Islands
Karen Hastie Williams recalls her role at the Office of Management and Budget
Transcript
Let's step back a little bit and talk more about your father as governor of the [U.S.] Virgin Islands. Did he share stories about his work there at that time?$$Yes, he was, when he was governor of the Virgin Islands I was five years old, my brother [William H. Hastie III] was born in Government House [Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands]. I went to elementary school at the local Catholic school.$$Do you remember the name of it?$$Saint Peter's and Paul [Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School, Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands].$$Okay.$$Catholic school and stayed there through the fifth grade. When Dad came, this would be back to the islands because as you recall he had been there as a judge before he went to teach at Howard [Howard University School of Law, Washington, D.C.]. And he was fairly controversial in the sense that he established the terms or had the legislature approve the terms of the Organic Act [Organic Act of 1936] which was the first major overall of the legislation that really guided the way things were going to be done within the government structure within the tax structure. And there were those particularly the editor then of the largest newspaper who many years later became his brother-in-law, were attacking him in stories saying you know, "Hastie's [William H. Hastie] trying to bring his stateside ideas to our little island. And you know wants to change the way things were done." Well his concern was that the laws were not clear, they were being interpreted by local judges giving favoritism to a lot of the big property owners. And the work force the, the men and women who were conducting their lives responsibly, were in many ways not being supported by the way the laws were being interpreted. So this went on for probably close two years, legislature ultimately passed his recommendations. And that is still the law in the Virgin Islands now. He was I think the first civilian governor after a string of [U.S.] Navy governors were the, the leader of the, of the islands. They, they were presidential appointees most of them were white naval officers. But, he had a very successful term, Truman [President Harry S. Truman] came down to the Virgin Islands and it was the first time that a president had visited the islands and this would have been probably in 1947 or '48 [1948] I believe. And my brother was born in Government House on St. Thomas [U.S. Virgin Islands] in 1947.$$Okay.$$I think that in retrospect most Virgin Islanders feel that his tenure as governor was good for the islands.$So I went down to the White House to OMB [Office of Management and Budget] and spent a year and a half down there working as the head of the Office of Federal Procurement and Policy [Office of Federal Procurement Policy], which is an executive office located within OMB.$$And tell me what that experience was like?$$That was a very interesting experience because my, my job was really to put pressure on the federal--the major federal cabinet offices to do more with contracting out to women, to people of color. That was a real agenda item. And this was the Carter [President James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr.] administration. And so I did that and I remember having a conver- a meeting with Colin Powell [HistoryMaker General Colin L. Powell], who was then the, I guess it's called the special assistant to the secretary of defense. And he said to me and I had not known him before, but I walked in, and he said, "Before we have a conversation I have to tell you that your father [William H. Hastie] changed my life." I said, "Oh my, how did he do that?" He said, "Well, he was the chairman of the Commission on White House Fellows [President's Commission on White House Fellowships] and he picked me out of a group of thirty candidates to be one of the people who was a White House Fellow. And I choose to come over and work with the secretary of defense," and here he is now back again on another tour. And he said, "I really want to help you, I know that the [U.S.] military should be doing better. But, I've gotta tell you when I run up against these three stars and four stars [four star general]," this was before he had all of his stars, "it's very difficult." I said, "Well I'm just looking for--I realize you can't change everything overnight, I'd like to just see some progress." And I, we talked about strategies that he might use. And I told him, I'd provide him some additional information as to what was going on in other agencies. So that was a particularly interesting time when I was in OMB, because I was interacting with a lot of senior people in government. And working also with people up on Capitol Hill [Washington, D.C.]. So I think that the two governmental experiences both at the budget committee [U.S. Senate Committee on the Budget] and at OMB were very instructive. In terms of building my experience level to be able when I went back into private practice, to be able to help clients negotiate within the federal structures.$$So you leave there in 1981?$$Right.