Program Highlight- Marquita Williams, Kids Can Program Manager

All Things in Time

William Shakespeare once said, “Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.”

Marquita Williams’ youth development journey started around 15 years ago at one of the largest youth serving agencies in the Metro area.  She was not sure exactly where she fit in the bigger picture, but knew she wanted to make an impact in the lives of people. She said, “to be honest, it was just a part time position for me, never in a million years did I think youth development would be a career for me.”  Ms. Williams was born and raised in Omaha and is a 2002 graduate of Omaha North High School.

While she was working at Boys & Girls Club of the Midlands as a Childcare Subsidy’s Manager, she became unsettled with her role and began thinking about what her next steps could be.  During a conversation with Lavone Walker at Collective for Youth, she recalls him telling her about the potential of becoming a Site Director in the Collective for Youth network.  Marquita applied several times within her agency and each time she was turned away.  It seemed like one roadblock after another would prevent her from moving into the position she wanted. 

One of the qualities of a leader is the ability to have patience.  Francis De Sales put it this way, “Have patience with all things but first of all with yourself.”  Marquita didn’t become frustrated with the process, but was at a loss as to why she was being overlooked.  She was able to fill in for other site directors that were out on vacation and her reviews were good, but she was at a standstill.  So, as she continued to challenge herself and seek out other positions that were available within the network, she was told about a Site Director position in the Kids Can organization.  She applied for the position and became the Site Director at Conestoga Elementary School in August of 2021.  Conestoga had never had an afterschool program, so this was a wide-open opportunity to show her skills as a leader.

Her new position didn’t come easy, but she accepted the challenges it presented.  Marquita knew that being assigned to a school that previously had an after-school program that didn’t succeed would be difficult.  “I had to go in and actually prove myself to the principal, the classroom teachers, and the families that were involved in those other after school programs.” While at Conestoga, Marquita has been about building partnerships outside of the school as well.  Bridge Church has been a consistent supporter from day one.  “The relationship with the church has been very successful for not only the organization, but also for our community. Building strong connections with the parents has helped as well.  Parents are able to contact me after business hours if needed.” – which further strengthens communication.  Marquita also did a food drive to help families supplement their resources during the first couple weeks of summer.  The principal was also pleased with the progress and success of the after-school program.  “Since I am new to the building, it has been a pleasure to work with Ms. Williams and her team.  We have consistent communication and she always finds a way to stay connected to our mission and puts the students first.”

There is an equation that goes, PREPARATION + OPPORTUNITY = SUCCESS.  Marquita is an example of what it means to have a clear vision about what you want and being ready for the right time to move.  After being a Site Director for two full years and creating a strong foundation for success in the after-school program, she was recently promoted to Program Manager by her organization.  Marquita will be working with Conestoga and Miller Park during the upcoming 2023-2024 school year.  This is certainly a major step in her career and a great opportunity for her to grow in her leadership.  She explained that, in her new role, she will be, “making sure that my Site Directors have a quality program, create activities that are relevant to students and keep everyone up to date on compliance and following through with the goals the team sets.”

It was only a matter of time before Marquita was able to unleash her leadership potential.  What a great encouragement to those around her and an excellent example for the students and families she serves to never give up hope or your dream.