Make-A-Wish CEO Honored

David Williams receives Administrator of the Year Award

PROVO, Utah – Mar 24, 2017 – David Williams, CEO of Make-A-Wish Foundation, was named 2017 Administrator of the Year by Brigham Young University’s Romney Institute of Public Management. The program recognized Williams at a banquet on campus.

The Administrator of the Year award honors outstanding public management professionals for their ethical and moral service in the public sector and for the example that they set for BYU MPA students.

“David exemplifies this award through his history of work in the nonprofit sector,” says Rex Facer, associate professor of public finance and management. “The effect of Make-A-Wish Foundation on people in very difficult times is the kind of organizational effort that we want our students to emulate.”

Williams described his initial discomfort accepting the award due to his belief that working in the nonprofit sector is about service—not recognition.

“What really changed my mind though was learning more about George Romney,” Williams says. “He was a great business leader, an amazing public servant, and valued his family and his faith. As I looked at some of the people this school has honored in his name, it felt like I should take another look at it. I’m glad I did because he was a great man, this is a great institution, and this is a wonderful award.”

Williams, who has served as CEO since 2005, did not always plan to work in nonprofit. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in accounting at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Houston, Williams realized that he wanted to pursue nonprofit work. After thirty-four years in the industry, including time with the Houston Food Bank and Habitat for Humanity, he has found great satisfaction with his work and the people he works with.

“In my job, I get to see people at their best,” Williams says. “Whether that’s a celebrity granting a wish to a kid or whether it’s a corporation or executive that’s come to us happy to be partnering with us, I get to see people at their best.”

During his remarks at the banquet, Williams closed his address with advice to BYU MPA students as they embark on their career, counseling them to become great leaders and public servants.

“It’s easy to make the mistake that great leaders are larger than life,” Williams says. “Most are not. They care, they’re committed to their profession, and they go the extra mile.”

The Romney Institute of Public Management, part of the Marriott School’s Master of Public Administration program, was named in 1998 for three-term Michigan Governor George W. Romney. A part of the Brigham Young University’s Marriott School, the Romney Institute offers a master’s degree in public administration through both pre-service and executive programs. The Romney Institute has a long tradition of preparing young people for careers in public service and is dedicated to educating men and women of faith, character and professional ability who will become outstanding managers and leaders in public and not-for-profit institutions. Brigham Young University is the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. 

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Make-A-Wish CEO David Williams

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Tessa Haas