Influential Leaders

David Williams

David Williams

University of Houston, C. T. Bauer College of Business


David Williams, who received his MBA from Bauer in 1992 while serving as executive director of the Houston Food Bank, has devoted his career to helping others. In the mid-1990s, he became chief operating officer of Habitat for Humanity International, and, in 2005, he joined the national office of Make-A-Wish, which recently celebrated its 35th anniversary and is one of America’s most beloved charities, granting the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses.

All of these professional opportunities, Williams says, came with the risk of failure. He often did not have the experience on paper to take on these roles, but what he lacked in experience he made up for in potential, passion, and purpose.

Williams has been a respected leader in the nonprofit world for more than three decades. Under his leadership, the national office of Make-A-Wish has more than doubled its annual revenue, to 84 million USD, and distributions to chapters have increased five-fold, to 50 million USD. Overall revenue, including contributions from chapters, has increased from more than 100 million USD to 400 million USD. In fiscal year 2014, David Williams led Make-A-Wish America to grant more wishes in a single year than ever before, using approximately 79 percent of all contributions to do so.

To date, Make-A-Wish America has granted more than 250,000 wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses, fulfilling its simple, heartfelt mission: granting the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy. On average, every 38 minutes, the organization grants one wish, made possible through a network of staff, volunteers, donors, and other supporters, led by Williams.

Williams has used his business education to transform the lives of others, including the children whose wishes are granted by Make-A-Wish, as well as the young business professionals he has mentored and guided.