The Honorable Ann C. Williams (Ret.) joined the law firm of Jones Day in 2018 to lead its efforts in advancing the rule of law in Africa. When she was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit by President William J. Clinton on November 10, 1999, Judge Williams became the first person of color ever appointed to the Seventh Circuit and the third African American woman to serve on any United States Court of Appeals. She had previously been appointed in 1985 by President Ronald W. Reagan to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. She was the first woman of color appointed to a district court in the Seventh Circuit, which includes all federal courts in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.
In addition to her memberships in various bar groups, including the Chicago, Women’s, Cook County, Black Women Lawyers, Federal, and American Bar Associations, Judge Williams also serves on the Board of Trustees of the University of Notre Dame, the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, Equal Justice Works, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York and on the Advisory Board of Just the Beginning – A Pipeline Organization.
Before becoming a lawyer, Judge Williams began her career as a music and third grade teacher in the inner city public schools of Detroit, Michigan, after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree from Wayne State University in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Guidance and Counseling from the University of Michigan while working full time. She received her J.D. from the University of Notre Dame.