Beyond the Badge

AW Williams reflects on 20 years

Amber Williams, an associate warden, outside a prison.
Associate Warden (AW) Amber Williams.

Black History Month spotlight: Amber Williams

In honor of Black History Month, CDCR caught up with Associate Warden (AW) Amber Williams. In March, Williams will celebrate 20 years of dedicated service with the department.

“To me, CDCR is a career that has allowed me to work with people of diverse backgrounds who share the same mission to house and rehabilitate incarcerated people in a safe and professional environment,” said Williams.

Her notable career began at the CDCR Basic Correctional Officer Academy in March 2003. In June, she graduated as a Correctional Officer (CO). Over the next four years, she rose through the ranks from CO to Correctional Counselor I and Correctional Counselor II.

Her career advancements took her to four different institutions:

  • Salinas Valley State Prison
  • California Correctional Institutio
  • Substance Abuse Treatment and Facility State Prison, Corcoran
  • Avenal State Prison
  • and CDCR headquarters.

In January 2017, she promoted to Captain and in May 2020 promoted to AW. Currently, she is acting Chief Deputy Warden at North Kern State Prison.

As Williams promoted within CDCR, she realized she served as an example to women and people of color of what can be accomplished.

“I understand how my decisions, the paths I have taken, and my accomplishments are viewed by my family members, friends, as well as my peers,” she said. “I am motivated to become the most successful person I can become.”

Q&A with AW Amber Williams

What does Black History Month mean to you?

It means a couple of different things to me. Most importantly, it’s more than celebrating the history and accomplishments for 28 days or 29 days during a leap year. Black History Month is a time for people of all races to educate themselves on the importance of the struggles, trials, and tribulations of African Americans. It is is also a time for people of all races to educate themselves of the past, present, and current accomplishments African Americans have contributed to society.

Black History Month is important to celebrate because it brings attention to the history of the contributions of African Americans. For example, the celebration of Black history brings attention to significant leaders like Carter G. Woodson, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Malcom X, to name a few. There is so much more to Black history than the names that we commonly know.

Also, Black history is important because of my ancestors. In fact, Black history affected my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents as they endured the segregated south of New Orleans, LA.

As an adult, I visited the Ormond Plantation (a French Creole, West Indies Style Plantation built in 1789) located in Destrehan, Louisiana, as well as the Whitney Plantation in Edgard, Louisiana, where generations of Africans and their descendants were enslaved. Both visits were eye-opening experiences. Oftentimes, people think of slavery when Black History is referred to, but people can learn that Black History is a history that has intertwined itself into all races.

What are your proudest career moments with CDCR?

I have had many special moments during my career, but there are two that stand out the most. In 2018, I was part of a group of ten CDCR Captains who were invited to the Governor’s mansion. We met with former California Governor Jerry Brown to discuss CDCR’s current state and where the state of California was headed with CDCR.

My other special moment involves being selected to be a part of the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) Steering Committee. In doing so, GARE has allowed me to provide leadership and guidance to CDCR staff throughout the agency with information on the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion efforts for more inclusivity within CDCR.

What has been your biggest inspiration?

My mom and dad. Seeing my parents’ determination growing up, along with being told you can be anything as long as you work hard, has given me the drive to become the person I am today.

Fun Facts about AW Williams

  • Traveling to see family is a passion. She often visits family in, Seattle, New Orleans, Chicago, and Cincinnati.
  • She is a huge foodie and loves to embark on new culinary experiences.

By Todd Javernick, Information Officer
Office of Public and Employee Communications

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