A True Community Champion

Feb 01, 2022

During Black History Month, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation is profiling pioneering Black leaders past and present who have made a mark on our community. Throughout the month, we’ll be sharing stories of these important figures and showcasing their work to make Fairfield County a stronger, more equitable community.

Dudley Williams left an indelible impression on nearly everyone he met in Fairfield County.

In addition to flashing a brilliant smile that never failed to light up a room, Dudley was known throughout our community for his warmth, compassion and wit.

But Dudley — who passed away in May 2021 after a battle with cancer — was best known for his tireless dedication to Stamford, the city he called home for more than a quarter century, and for his passion for public education.

This passion became central to his career, where he served as director of district education strategy at GE Asset Management Group, and to his extensive work as a public servant. Dudley served two terms as President of Stamford’s Board of Education, along with stints on the Connecticut State Commission on Educational Achievement and Association of Boards of Education.

In these roles, he worked to ensure preschool programs were preserved in the face of proposed budget cuts and played an instrumental role in bringing funding to Stamford schools through the GE Foundation’s College Bound District Program, which provided the Stamford school district with a $15.3 million grant in 2006.

The grant was the largest non-government grant in the district’s history and was used to improve student achievement and increase college readiness through comprehensive school, business and community collaboration. Through Dudley’s leadership, the GE Foundation ultimately invested $25 million in Stamford Public Schools — a massive investment that has opened doors and expanded opportunity to students throughout the city.

His service to the Stamford community also extended beyond public education. Dudley worked behind the scenes with a range of city leaders, nonprofits, businesses, youth and other citizens, and was committed to providing opportunity and improving the quality of life for all of Stamford’s neighborhoods.

He served on the boards of organizations such as The Connecticut Center for School Change, CT Voices for Children, Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Ferguson Library, Childcare Learning Centers, the Rowan Center, Stamford YMCA and the Urban League of Southwestern CT.

His passion for improving his community also extended to his work supporting efforts to transform Mill River Park into a true community resource — one where citizens can gather, learn and connect.

After retiring from GE in 2017, Dudley became CEO of the Mill River Park Collaborative, working closely with the City of Stamford, the Wittingham family and other donors and supporters to improve the park.

The project stands as another reminder of Dudley’s immense impact on our community — a legacy that will surely echo for generations to come.

The Dudley N. Williams, Jr. Memorial Fund invests in nonprofits and programs that support Stamford youth, enabling them to reach their full potential. Learn more.