Black History Month
History. Tradition. Community.
February is Black History Month.
Since 1926, and the creation of Negro History Week by Carter G. Woodson, the accomplishments of persons of African descent have been recognized each February. The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights is proud to present Future History Makers, a profile series featuring emerging leaders from the Twin Cities African American community who share our ideals of advancing civil rights and removing barriers to equity.
Honoring The Legacy
William F. (Billy) Williams was born October 24, 1877. Williams was a graduate of Mechanic Arts High School and Hess Business College. After college, Williams had a brief career as a semi-pro baseball player. Later, Williams enjoyed a lengthy career as an executive political assistant.
Williams, was a skillful communicator and respected leader. In 1904, Williams joined the staff of Governor John A. Johnson as his personal assistant. Williams was retained in that position through 14 governors for a total of 53 years. Williams was active and voiced forceful opposition to racism, particularly in the military. He was chairman of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety during the World War I, retiring in 1957. Upon his departure, the state Legislature passed a special act giving him a pension for life. William F. Williams died in 1963.
Celebrating The Future
Today’s Future History Maker understands the commitment and dedication of Mr. Williams. She also is dedicated to leading and empowering community. She is Shawntera Hardy.
Shawntera Hardy is the Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith. In this role, she helps to advance the Dayton Administration’s mission to make a better Minnesota by improving the quality of services provided to all Minnesotans. Hardy drives day-to-day operations within the office of the Governor and Lt. Governor in the areas of emergency management, specifically managing any of Minnesota’s unexpected crises (i.e. tornadoes, disease outbreak, and breaches of security).
Hardy has over 15 years of experience in urban planning and development and state and local policy. She has worked as a legislative assistant in the Ohio House of Representatives, a city planner for the City of Saint Paul and as a professional lobbyist for HealthPartners hospital division. As a planner for the city of St. Paul, she brought together government, community leaders, and businesses as co-planner of the University Avenue Task Force, which created the Central Corridor Development Strategy, a 30-year plan for housing, economic and social development along the recently opened Green Line light rail route.
Hardy also helped secure $10 million in community development funding for the City and represented the city on the Transit for Livable Communities Bicycle-Walk Advisory Committee, which helped garner and direct over $25 million in federal funding for bike trails and street improvements. In her role as a lobbyist she worked on critical health policy for some of the most vulnerable Minnesotans.
Hardy received her undergraduate degree in Human Ecology from The Ohio State University and her Masters of Urban Planning at the State University of New York at Buffalo. She has a strong passion for, and commitment, to building strong communities and leveling the playing field in the civic engagement process. Hardy is the board president of the St. Paul YWCA, board member of Minneapolis Parks Foundation, board member of the Wilder Foundation, and general member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Most Rewarding Work Experience
In a number of professional capacities, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to bridge the gap between policy and people. I’m driven and excited to do the work that will improve people’s overall quality of life. One project that comes to mind is the Green Line. While working as a City planner in St. Paul, I was deeply involved in the planning of the project. To now, see it up it running allowing people affordable and accessible transportation, I can’t help but beam with pride.
Advice for Those Interested in a Career in Government
The work is extremely rewarding so I encourage those that are interested to come with high expectations. Always, bring your best self. Be enthusiastic and committed to making a change. The idea that government can’t be innovative is certainly false. If you are an innovator and you bring that spirit with you in all that you do, the results will follow.
Beacons of Leadership
Individuals that are honest and have integrity. I met many individuals who are working to create change- both seasoned and beginners. I am most attracted to those who adhere to a standard and hold fast to their morals and convictions.
My mother is the most inspirational person in my life. She did not have a high school diploma or GED, but she raised me to value education and always believe anything was within my reach. Her guidance allows me to truly understand that your current condition isn’t your permanent position. She motivates me to be my very best.
- Youngtown, Ohio
- The Ohio State University, B.A.
- University of New York, Masters of Urban Planning