Cheryl Joseph Williams has a belief that giving in the church can be a spiritual calling, and starting in May she will work to strengthen the United Church of Christ's philanthropic efforts as the director of the UCC's Office of Philanthropy and Stewardship. Williams, who begins her appointment on May 1, is a certified fundraising executive with more than 10 years of nonprofit development experience.
"I am excited about this opportunity to work with this community of faith to strengthen its culture of philanthropy — growing our resources to equip the church, its congregations, services and mission," Williams said. "Giving is a high calling, and philanthropy moves our giving from being transactional to relational."
In leading the Office of Philanthropy and Stewardship, Williams will create and implement a comprehensive fundraising and development program for the national setting of the church.
"Cheryl is passionate about philanthropy and she is looking forward to joining the national staff in this role," said the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, UCC general minister and president. "She has experience in major donor development, annual giving, grant writing and administration, gift management systems and operation efficiencies."
Williams has served as director of Corporate Partnerships for Akron Children's Hospital, and was previously the director of stewardship and development for Episcopal Diocese of Ohio, where she helped create, organize and manage the Diocese of Ohio's inaugural development office.
Williams earned a bachelor's degree in the management from Indiana Wesleyan University, and is finishing a master's degree in public administration at the University of Akron.
"As Director of Philanthropy and Stewardship, my hope is that I can be an instrument to help nurture a philosophy that aligns the spirit of generosity to what it means to be in relationship with Christ, [and] what it means to be available to God," Williams said.
Williams will also have the support of UCC board members who look forward to being part of the church's stewardship endeavors. The Rev. Ron Patterson, a UCC pastor who chairs the United Church of Christ Board's development committee, said at a board meeting in March that he wants his fellow members to be integral in the church's philanthropic efforts.
"We've been looking for a person who is a collaborative leader, familiar with stewardship, familiar with donorship and technology, [who will] equip the board to take part in that function," Patterson said. "Giving is growth, and all great institutions survive on philanthropy that is committed."