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Industry Briefs
Bill William Retires

Following 37 years of exceptional service to Chicago, W. “Bill” Williams is retiring from Choose Chicago (formerly the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau). Friends, family and industry colleagues celebrated his retirement on October 30 at McCormick Place, the Windy City’s primary meeting facility, where Williams was recognized for his outstanding contributions to Chicago, the meetings/hospitality industry, and his community.

Williams serves as vice president, Diversity/Sales of Choose Chicago. He was born in the Morgan Park Community of Chicago, where the City of Chicago has dedicated a street in his honor. Williams, has been with the organization for more than three decades covering the Social, Military, Education/Ethnic, Religious and Fraternal (SMERF) Market, and is a veteran of over 40 years in the hospitality industry.

A graduate of Chicago State University with a business degree, Williams is extremely involved in a number of professional, social and community organizations: a founding board member of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners, as well as a founding board member of the Chicago Chapter of the Society of Government Meeting Professionals. He is a former Marine and a current member of the Montford Point Marines Association, a lifetime member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and a member of the Quarter Century Club of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.

Williams, the recipient of a 2008 Apex Award for Distinguished Service from Black Meetings & Tourism, is a 33rd Degree Mason and a Shriner. He is also a member of Who’s Who Among Black Americans, Who’s Who in Black Chicago and holds membership in a number of other organizations, including the Religious Conference Management Association, International Association of Hispanic Meeting Professionals, NAACP, Christian Meetings & Convention Association, National Urban League, Rainbow Push Coalition, President of the Rat Pack Chicago, Former Grand Marketing Director of the Improved Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks of the World (Great Lakes Elks Lodge #43), Vice Chairman - Westside Association for Community Action, Board Member of Shoop School 49er’s, Member of the Board of Trustees of the Chicago Baptist Institute and a Board Member of the Academy of Travel & Tourism for the Chicago Public Schools, a member of the City Clubs of Chicago, and also a board member of the Black Metropolis Convention & Tourism Council. Recently, Williams was selected as one of 50 men of excellence by a poll of the Chicago Defender Newspaper.

Nationally, Williams is recognized as a leader in the cause of furthering racial equality and opportunity in the convention and tourism industry. He is also recognized as a mentor to many people who are interested in the hospitality industry. He has had a tremendous impact on the economic growth and development of Chicago’s hospitality industry in his promotion of cultural diversity in the meeting industry. Williams is the senior African-American in the U.S. in the convention bureau industry.

Additionally, Williams is active in the betterment of his community. As an entrepreneur he founded the Morgan Park Shoe Repair and Shine Parlors (now called K & J Shoe Repair & Shine Parlors) in addition to the E&B Restaurant along with his business partners. These businesses provide part-time employment for more than 30 people.

Williams is a husband of 47 years to Syleste, father, grandfather and a lifelong member of Mt. Calvary Baptist Church. Williams will serve as a consultant to Choose Chicago following his retirement.
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