Phenomenal Dolly Williams
By Vashtee Achibar Sunday, January 27 2013
A Trinidadian woman has been honoured by the New York Society of Architects.
She is 63-year-old Dolly Williams, a mother of two and grandmother of four, and originally from Penal Rock, South Trinidad.
Williams is president and chief executive officer of a family-owned business, A Williams Construction, one of New York City’s minority owned companies that started as a trucking business and grew to the level of a general contractor and small developer, working in both the public and private sectors.
The company has operated out of Brooklyn for the last 34 years and specialises in excavation/foundation and general construction work.
Last week, Trinidad and Tobago’s Consul General in New York, Rudrawattee Nan Ramgoolam was on hand to congratulate Williams when the New York Society of Architects presented the ‘‘Distinguished Achievement Award’’ to her at the society’s 106th Annual Awards Dinner held at the Tribeca Rooftop, Manhattan, NY.
Williams also received a citation from the Brooklyn president, Marty Markowitz, for her contribution to the development of New York State.
The society described Williams as a “Phenomenal Woman”.
Her company worked on the Bronx Criminal Court Foundation, one of the largest done in New York City and the Medgar Evers College Student Service Centre, giving opportunities to many Brooklyn-based minority and women-owned businesses.
Williams told Sunday Newsday the experience of working on major projects in the big city “shows that Trinidad and Tobago nationals as well as minority contractors are capable of building total projects anywhere in the world, once given the opportunity, something never contemplated by anyone in the Big Apple.”
Williams and her company have received numerous industry and civic awards including Crains New York Business of the Year, SBA Contractor of the Year Award, New York State Department of Commerce, as well as many gubernatorial, congressional, and mayoral awards over the years.
Williams has also served on many Boards in the City and was a New York City Planning Commissioner for five years. During this time she was instrumental in making decisions that changed the landscape of the city. Dolly, as she is fondly known, said in an e-mail interview with Sunday Newsday, that she always supports sustainable development and is an advocate of affordable housing.
“There are lots of projects to be built and many more people to help,” she said. “I want to provide jobs and help the community just a little more, and to be a good role model for girls and women everywhere”.
She recalled how as a little girl growing up in Rock Road, Penal in the 1950’s, she dreamt of migrating to England and becoming a physicist like the then leader of the Democratic Labour Party, Dr Rudranath Capildeo. Capildeo, who became leader of the Opposition in 1961 to 1963, was her hero and she remembers listening to him on the “Phillips” radio with her grandfather, Ganpat and her uncles in the evenings. As she sat in her grandparents living room at Rock Road, Penal reading Charles Dickens and other English classics by the light of a kerosene lamp, Willams said she knew that she wanted more from life.
One of the highlights of Williams’s career was the unearthing of an African slave burial ground in Manhattan in 1991.
Her company was doing the excavation works on a building site when they came upon the graveyard. Her company assisted in the archaeological dig. She said 450 skeletons, 300 of which were children were unearthed. She said the federal government offered her company the job to re-bury the bones in seven huge graves.
But Williams is not all work. She believes that in every day, one should make time for some fun because life is not only about work. She is a supporter and avid mas player in the Carnival celebrations in New York.
And, talking about her homeland, she is proud that another woman from Penal has done well — Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar
“When the election results were announced in 2010 I am sure my neighbours could hear me screaming with joy. We had our own celebration up here in New York,” she said.
Asked about retirement plans, Dolly remarked that the word is not in her vocabularly. “I have too much to do still, I want to help young people, I love young people,” she said.