More than 400 well-wishers attended McKinley Williams’ Retirement Celebration and Scholarship Fundraiser Sunday, Dec. 11, at the Contra Costa College (CCC) Physical Education Complex.
The event commemorated Williams’ six-year presidency at CCC as well as his contributions as an educator and academic leader and was hosted by the CCC African American Staff Association and CCC Culinary Arts Department.
The celebration also kicked off the Gaye & McKinley Williams Scholarship Fund. Michelle Jackson served as Mistress of Ceremonies.
The program included a village assembly call performance by the Fua Dia Congo Drummers and an invocation by Rev. Paul Foster, Pastor of Abundant Faith Church.
Dr. Wise Allen of the Peralta Community College District and Dr. Helen Benjamin of the Contra Costa College District also spoke, and the Black Song & Poetry Ensemble performed.
Elected officials presented resolutions honoring Williams’ achievements, including Richmond Vice Mayor Tom Butt, San Pablo Mayor Cecilia Valdez, San Pablo Councilmember Leonard McNeil, Supervisor John Gioia, and representatives of Congressman George Miller, Senator Loni Hancock and Assemblymember Nancy Skinner.
Williams was roasted and toasted by co-workers and neighborhood friends including Rafael Madrigal, President of the CCC Foundation; Dr. George Herring, former President of Merritt College; Jeanette Moore, former Dean of Enrollment Services; Peter Garcia, President of Diablo Valley College; and Joe Fisher of the Black American Political Action Committee (BAPAC).
Williams gave closing remarks and thanked all who attended and contributed to the Gaye & McKinley Williams Scholarship Fund. He also thanked his wife Gaye for her continuous support for over 40 years.
“This has been my husband’s dream, to help students who can’t help themselves, those who are unable to attend college because they don’t have the income,” Gaye Williams said.
McKinley Williams was born in San Francisco and raised in Richmond. He attended San Francisco State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in counseling. He later attended the University of Colorado Boulder, earning a master’s degree in clinical psychology. He spent the early part of his career teaching and working as a counselor before working in educational leadership.
Prior to his presidency, he was appointed to the position of Dean of Instruction at College of Alameda and later served as the Dean of Instruction at Merritt College. In 2005, Williams was appointed to the position of Interim President of CCC and served in that capacity until being appointed President of CCC in 2006.
An active community member, Williams serves on executive boards fo Richmond and San Pablo Chambers of Commerce and the Middle College National Consortium. He is also on the board of Richmond Community Foundation and is a member of the Leadership Advisory Committee for El Cerrito High School.
He and his wife have two children and six grandchildren.
Kia Croom is a contributing writer for the Richmond Post.