ONE ON ONE | Jay Williams CDA chief's goal is to make agency more efficient
What's with the R. sometimes in front of your name, since everyone calls you Jay?
My real name is actually Roy Kojo Jawara Williams. That was the name of my grandfather. It means peace, loving and unconquerable. My mother, when I was a child, came up with the nickname Jay. I've been Jay since birth.
Best thing about leaving a bank vice presidency for a job with the city?
I get to see the results of my work a little more immediately and much more close up. The bank ... it was going to be successful whether I was there or not. I was glad I was able to contribute. Here, up close and personal. I can participate more.
The bureaucracy and the politics. At the bank ... if a decision needed to be made ... it was fairly straightforward. It was driven by profits so that caused a lot of efficiencies. Here, things aren't driven by profit. You still have the same customer service, but you get a lot of inefficiency and bureaucracy.
What makes a city neighborhood great?
A. People. Second would be the actual physical environment. If you have nice people, that can make up for maybe some of the other general deterioration.
What's your favorite neighborhood in the city?
I grew up on the East Side but I had family on the South Side. I liked the Volney Road-Winona Drive-Glenwood area. I could spend the summers there, having a good time, go fishing, we'd run in the park, ride our bikes.
Did you ever think anybody would give you $7 million a year to look after? That's a lot of money.
I've always worked to put myself in a position that I could be entrusted with that. I had a lot of, for lack of a better word, authority at the bank. It's not such a huge transition. I can't say I'm totally surprised. I'm grateful and appreciative, but not surprised.
Biggest accomplishment in this first year on the job?
Internally the staff, externally the contractors that we deal with, have realized there is now a new environment in the CDA, there's a new level of accountability and expectation.
Biggest thing you haven't accomplished after a year?
There is still an extreme amount of disorganization and disconnect between policies and procedures and operations. There is not a lot of continuity.
A year from now, what do you want this organization to look like?
I want the procedures we use to process cases to be firmly entrenched. I want them to be documented and efficient such that when a person comes in and sits down for assistance, it's a matter of several days ... as opposed to several weeks.
Most influential person in your life?
My parents. They reared me, first and foremost, with a respect for God. Second to that, a respectful environment of discipline. They always taught me standards. Certain qualities, a certain level of expectation. They taught me respect and how to treat other people.
If you had $1 million ... ?
I would probably take a year off and go on a worldwide golf vacation. I'd take my golf buddies and my wife. Then, I like toying with investments.
Where did you get this golf bug?
My father. I caddied for him, every opportunity. I didn't really pick it up. I was just exposed to it. About five years ago, I just, wow, let loose.
What's the handicap?
On my good days I can be an 18 handicap, and on my bad days a lot worse. On a good day I can shoot 90. I know I'm going to get a lot of flak from those who have seen me on my bad days.
Best part of being married?
Coming home to my friend. She's my wife, she's my friend.
The one question I should ask Jay Williams that I haven't?
Where would I like to see the city in five years?
OK, where would you like to see the city in five years?
I would like to see a city that has a well thought-out comprehensive plan that's being followed. I'd like to see a city with citizens who are thoroughly engaged and involved in the process of holding their leaders to standards and accountability.