Hillard T. Smith Community Service Award – Silver Medal. Victoria Williams, NCARB, AIA, LEED AP.
Victoria Williams, NCARB, AIA, LEED AP
Victoria Williams is being nominated for the Hillard T. Smith Community Service Award – Silver Medal, because her dedication to community service and support for her profession exemplifies what Hillard T. Smith stood for. Victoria lives the Rotary premise of “Service Above Self.” She not only supports a variety of community organizations but also has invested a great amount of her own time in leadership roles within those organizations. Her impact has been felt wherever she serves as can be attested by the number of public recognitions she has received. By selecting Victoria as this year’s Silver Medal recipient, she would be a testimony to the values the award signifies.
The community has benefited in a number of ways due to Victoria’s involvement – from organization increases in membership and revenues, to added services provided to the community, and to increasing the profile of the profession she practices. She is viewed as a role model not just for her willingness to do whatever it takes but also for the accomplishments achieved under her watch.
Victoria’s strong sense of community involvement stems from her intrinsic desire to promote and impact programs that enable others to grow personally as well as professionally. Through involvement and leadership in Junior Achievement, the Emerald Coast Business Women’s Association, The Panama City Pops Orchestra, Panama City Rotary and the Small Business Institute, she strives to empower youth, business women and small business entities to aspire to succeed . She also serves her community as a member of the Panama City Beach Chamber as well as the Bay County Chamber of Commerce, where she serves on the Board of Directors and several outreach committees. Victoria strives to promote the architectural profession by serving on Panama City’s Downtown Improvement Board’s Architectural Review Committee and is Co-Chair of the Downtown North CRA Design and Planning Board. As an appointee of the Bay County Commissioners, she serves as a Bay County Planning Commissioner to determine current land use as well as future land use and zoning. Within AIA, Victoria serves on the AIA Northwest Florida Board in Membership Relations.
Junior Achievement is a worldwide non-profit organization that is dedicated to teaching students how to compete in a global economy. This is done through a partnership between the business community and local educators. This organization is one that Victoria deeply supports and believes is critical to providing the tools our youth require to make the transition from academia to the workforce. As President of Junior Achievement of Northwest Florida’s Eastern Region Board of Advisors, she cultivated a cohesive team atmosphere and empowered the Executive Director which enabled the Eastern Region to exceed their goals. Under her leadership, class sponsorships increased and the number of students who had Junior Achievement increased by 55%. Victoria also re-implemented the Junior Achievement Hall of Fame Banquet which honored two business leaders, M.G. Nelson and Representative Marti Coley. This event raised approximately $25,000 to fund Junior Achievement classes in Bay County and achieved full Board participation.
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Victoria serves as Co-Chair for the Special Events/Fundraising Committee for the Eastern Region Board of Advisors developing and coordinating Junior Achievement fundraising and awareness efforts.
In the Adopt-a-Precinct program, Victoria serves as the Assistant Clerk during elections. In addition to donating the money to Junior Achievement from working the Precinct, Victoria strives to raise community awareness of Junior Achievement and it’s lasting influence on our youth.
Due to her passion for Junior Achievement and her past performance on the Eastern Region Board of Advisors, Victoria was elected to Junior Achievement of Northwest Florida’s Board of Directors and serves as a liaison to the Eastern Region Board of Advisors as well as a member of the Management and Operations Committee.
Though her service in the Board room is vital, Victoria is determined to take Junior Achievement directly to students and teaches elementary as well as high school courses in Bay and Washington County as well as participating in mock interviews at various high schools in order to prepare students in presenting their credentials to future employers.
The Emerald Coast Business Women’s Association is comprised of professional women who assist each other in business opportunities, promote each other’s strengths and talents, and come to the aid of the general community. Victoria served as Vice President prior to currently serving as President of the Association. Although she encourages general involvement in assisting Bay County, the group’s primary focus is providing scholarships to women over 25 years of age to return to school and further their education. The funds for this endeavor are generated by “Death by Chocolate” which has been held for eleven years. In addition to her other responsibilities, Victoria was the Media and Sponsorship Chair for this event. Past scholarship recipients are present to assist as necessary and answer any questions regarding this program. During Victoria’s presidency, over $11,000 in scholarships were awarded.
Another community outreach project that Victoria spearheaded was providing Christmas gifts for approximately thirty battered women through the Salvation Army Women’s Shelter.
The Panama City Pops Board of Directors was previously comprised of musicians and their families and/or fans. Due to the overwhelming growth of the Orchestra, the Board determined that there was a need to provide a business atmosphere and implement business practices on the Board level. Victoria Williams was elected to the Board and quickly moved into the Vice President position due to her willingness to contribute her time and expertise to evoke cooperation and cohesion among the Board members and unite the Board and musicians in a common goal, mentor and play memorable music.
The Panama City Pops Orchestra is not only a highly respected Orchestra, but also a non-profit mentoring program. Emerging student musicians are invited to audition for an opportunity to participate in rehearsals as well as in at least four professional concerts a year. This mentoring program aids in bridging the gap between playing an instrument in high school or college and obtaining scholarship or professional musician opportunities. Victoria is in her second term as Board President following her term as Vice President. Victoria implemented several operating procedure changes including updating the bylaws, developing procedures for handling of monies, streamlining the budget by cutting unnecessary expenses and fostering positive Board morale.
Victoria is determined to provide an artistic outlet and opportunity to Bay County and it’s youth while enriching the cultural fabric of the region. Patron attendance has steadily increased and Orchestra sponsorships have remained steady in spite of the current economic environment. Victoria participates not only as the President, but also as the set-up/tear-down crew and is very involved in the Fundraising/Development Committee who is responsible for such events as the Season Sunset Party and Battle of the Batons which invites Bay County Celebrities/Politicians to conduct the Orchestra and compete, through donations to the Orchestra, for the title of “Maestro”.
With “Service Above Self” as one of her mantras, Victoria was inducted into the Panama City Rotary where she was quickly invited to join the Board of Directors as the Club Service Chairman. In this position she created a review process that includes communications with all Assistance Applicants, whether they received donations from her Rotary Club or not. This has kept communication open between the Club and the community and has helped foster a better understanding of the type of programs that Rotary financially supports.
As the Club Service Chairman, Victoria has led her committee in reviewing and recommending donations for those programs that follow Rotary International’s Goals of access to clean water, combating hunger and promoting good health, expanding literacy and promoting the overall well-being of children. This review process has resulted in the award of many thousands of dollars towards education and outreach programs in Bay County while staying within her allotted budget.
In the effort to continue the momentum she created in the Club Service position after her term is completed, Victoria developed a written protocol for the Club Service Chair. This is just one example of her efforts to streamline processes in order to concentrate on the tasks at hand. Her protocol format is now being used as a template for other positions within the Club in order to achieve a smooth transition to the next Board of Directors.
One of the many projects that the Panama City Rotary is currently involved in is the Panama City Lighthouse which will be a fully functional and approved nautical aid for safe passage into St. Andrew Bay. Victoria is a member of the Lighthouse Committee and has chaired a fundraising opportunity in partnership with the Artist, Paul Brent. This Saturday event helped to raise awareness about the project as well as over $2000 to go towards the construction of the structure.
You definitely get out of the Chamber of Commerce what you put into it. Victoria devotes countless hours to promoting the economical development of small businesses and new Chamber members through her involvement with the Bay County Chamber of Commerce. One of the first Committees that she joined was the Ambassadors. This provided opportunities for her to meet and mentor new businesses, assisting them in getting to know their Chamber and its various committees and members. After serving on this committee for several years, Victoria was elected to Chair the committee. After her term, she decided to continue her involvement with the Ambassadors and enjoys helping new members maneuver the Chamber.
The Small Business Institute, SBI, was created by the Chamber of Commerce in order to provide resources and programs to help grow the small businesses of Bay County. Upon joining the Committee, Victoria was asked to sit on it’s Steering Committee. It’s role is to provide guidance for the overall program and what it offers the small business community. While remaining on the Steering Committee, Victoria became the Chairman of the SBI in 2010 and has implemented a weighted scoring process to rank and award the Small Business of the Month to deserving businesses.
Leadership Bay is a community leadership development program sponsored by the Bay County Chamber of Commerce. The current class’s project is a Business Plan Competition in an effort to promote and empower aspiring entrepreneurs to start a business or further develop their existing business. Based on her community involvement and her strong leadership skills, Victoria was asked to be a judge for the Competition. Winners of the Competition receive a cash prize in addition to Chamber membership, materials and services.
The Bay County Chamber of Commerce extended a Board of Directors seat invitation to Victoria for one year. She proved to be a valued asset and has been elected to a three year term. Her focus is primarily on small business programs and education of the community on issues such as Amendment 4 and off-shore drilling in the form of resolutions drafted by the Government Committee, the value of networking through the Chamber, and integrating business leaders experiences’ into the education of our youth.
In addition to her involvement in her Community, Victoria strives to promote good design and proper planning within Bay County as well as furthering the mission of AIA. She has served on the Architectural Review Committee of the Panama City Downtown Improvement Board since 2004 and has been involved in writing and updating the Design Guidelines as well as conducting reviews of various signage and building design packages proposed for the Downtown area.
She was called to serve on the Downtown North CRA Design and Planning Board where she was elected Vice-Chair due to her extensive knowledge of the area and procedures. Victoria is responsible for the development of design and planning requirements within the CRA and is in the process of producing a publication to be distributed to property owners and new businesses moving into the neighborhood as guidance for future renovations/construction endeavors.
Victoria was appointed to the Bay County Planning Commission in 2004 by the Bay County Commission and served by reviewing proposed zoning, use and future land use changes during one of the most active construction periods in Bay County history. She resigned shortly after the birth of her second daughter only to be reappointed in 2007. She continues to work diligently to promote good planning practices while striving to retain the rights and benefits of the citizens of Bay County.
Victoria continues her work in promoting Architect collaboration and the profession itself as Membership Relations Chairman for the AIA Northwest Florida Board of Directors. She is working closely with staff to develop a roster of members and non-members in our region as well as crafting a membership retention program through open communication, payment programs for those who require extended dues payments, continuing education courses and workshops in an effort to educate them on the benefits of membership as well as a united voice for issues currently facing architects.
Victoria was also the AIA Northwest Florida 2009 Community Service Award recipient. This honor was bestowed on Victoria based on her overall community involvement and impact.
Victoria Williams exemplifies what community service and volunteerism is about through service to youth, small businesses and her general region. Her tireless contributions and dedication reflected in this presentation embody the very essence of the premise behind the Hillard T. Smith Community Service Award .