Some might call it a job. For J’Nada Williams, working for the City of Huntsville’s Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion felt like a calling.
Williams, a December 2022 Alabama A&M University graduate, recently completed an internship with the Office of DEI. Under the leadership of DEI Director Kenny Anderson and Assistant DEI Director U’Meeka Smith, Williams gained numerous career and life skills during her time with the City.
We caught up with the Mississippi native since she left the City to begin a full-time job as an Employment Specialist/Coach with Phoenix. Here’s what she had to say about her experience.
How it started
Williams received an internship with the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion through the social work program at Alabama A&M. She describes being “amazed yet excited” for the opportunity to fulfill her internship hours with the City.
“After I was interviewed for the intern position, I knew this would become an enlightening opportunity just by hearing about the involvement of community advocacy, networking opportunities and the feeling I received of being in the right place at the correct time,” she said.
Being part of the Office of DEI’s first Civic Engagement Academy was one of Williams’ favorite assignments at the City. The free, six-week program is open to citizens seeking a deeper understanding of City of Huntsville government.
“I was able to learn and appreciate the efforts of City employees,” she said. “Meeting new people with similar interests to the Civic Engagement Academy created a delightful atmosphere to learn and network within the City of Huntsville.”
Williams also looked forward to designing the display case on the first floor of City Hall. Each month, she selected a different theme, such as Huntsville Music Month for September, National Hispanic Heritage Month for October and Veterans Day for November. In December, the display captured Christmas traditions around the world.
“I enjoyed researching different sources for the needed information,” Williams said. “I wanted the purpose of the display case to be not only informative, but eye-catching as well. I enjoyed witnessing the faces of people reading and admiring the creativity of the display’s content.”
Ask any City of Huntsville employee and they’ll probably agree: no two days in local government are alike. The same goes for our interns.
Having opportunities to try different things and meet new people made each day of her internship worthwhile, Williams said.
“I love the moments, from the lessons learned to the connections I have made to the relationships I have built,” she said. “Knowing the value of networking is a piece of my internship experience that I will forever appreciate the most.”
In her new role at Phoenix, Williams will serve as an advocate and a bridge for disabled communities.
Williams plans to take her networking prowess and other City resources to better the lives of people in need at Phoenix and beyond.
“With the multiple skills I gained throughout my internship with the Office of DEI, true professionalism is among the many,” she said.