Cheryl Williams (ICPES 76) learned about The Fund for American Studies by accident.
“I was just rummaging around stacks and stacks of information at the career services office at Mount Holyoke when I found the information about TFAS,” Williams recalled.
A 17-year-old freshman at the time, Williams convinced her reluctant father to allow her to attend the Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems (ICPES) during the summer of 1976.
TFAS staff placed Williams with the Senate Republican Steering Committee, under the direction of Jim McClure (R-Idaho). She received an early introduction to technology, spending much of the summer performing research on the Library of Congress computer system. Shortly after graduating from Mount Holyoke and receiving a master’s degree in International Relations from Columbia University, Williams held various positions with the Commerce Department, the United Nations, and the Federal Reserve before turning her attention to the private sector.
Following brief stints on Wall Street, with a family business in Chicago, and at the helm of her own financial consulting firm, Williams turned to work she knew she would enjoy, hoping “the money would follow.” Williams helped establish the New York-based Women’s Venture Fund, a micro-lender for low-income women, where she has served as chairman and currently serves as treasurer.
“I basically realized that the Third World debt crisis is right here, in the inner city,” said Williams. “All of this started, literally, with my finding TFAS’ application and saying ‘I can do this.'”