Terri Broussard Williams: A Firestarter and Movement Maker
It was a long night in November watching the defeat of her candidate in a U.S. congressional election, where suddenly Terri Broussard Williams was out of a job. As the spokesperson for this senatorial candidate, as soon as the night ended Williams was out of work with no direction of what she would be doing the following days and weeks. That’s when a mentor said she should be a lobbyist. Her background in journalism and tv equipped her with the communication skills of a qualified lobbyist - Terri should give it a try. A born and bred Louisiana girl was thrown into the world of legislation, navigating the ecosystem of a capitol building with no prior experience in her pocket. Through the encouragement of others, and by the legacy and teachings of her parents and grandparents, Terri’s fundamental perseverance to start fires in communities, legislative floors, and college campuses continues to challenge the mediocrity that lives there.
Terri, a policy advocate for the American Heart Association, now works in all 50 states to advocate for health policy. Before that, she advocated for the Louisiana Smoke- Free Air Act in the Louisiana Legislature and worked with congressmen and women to stay true to “the spirit of the bill”. These accomplishments are credited to Terri’s parents and grandparents whose child- rearing practices shaped the person she is today. Raised in Lafayette, Louisiana, or “the happiest place in the country,” the beginning of community service and outreach started with a church; the public was void a black catholic church, and the need for it was glaring to her grandparents. Built from the ground up, this church provided opportunities for gathering in the community and a chance for Terri to give back starting at a young age. Her parents acquired the role of service and taught Terri the importance of encouraging others that they matter and have a voice, and through simple tasks of volunteering she was prepared for the more substantial projects in her future. She first started volunteering at the IVY Reading Academy where her mom taught the lessons, and she handed out cookies and punch for the participants. Later, in middle school, Terri won a service award for volunteering at the public library, and it was in college that her service evolved into politics. Terri began interacting with the Student Government Association and presented paramount ideas to the student leaders of Louisiana State University that included passing a university policy that introduced funding the African American Cultural Center. If interacting with politics was a pot of water, her experience in college started to heat it on the stove. After leaving LSU, she was brimming with boiling water.
Working in Washington, D.C. to advocate for public policy on behalf of the American Heart Association is a mere portion of what Terri does. She “inspires others to create change” in their own communities, defining these activists as Firestarters. Terri explains that, “Convincing people that they can do anything is life changing,” and she thrives off encouraging others to revolutionize their life and their communities. Whether she is changing policy in Washington, D.C. or catching up with family in down- home Lafayette, Terri touches each life she meets and pushes them to be the change that they want to see in the world.
The resources that Terri offers can be found on her website at www.terribwilliams.com.