Carol Williams’ career as an activist, peacemaker, educator, mother and grandmother has spanned four decades. As a passionate civil servant, Carol has dedicated her life to representing the people of Montana, maintaining a clean and healthy environment for future generations, promoting peace, and advocating for the rights of women and children. She spent more than a decade as a Montana state legislator, first in the state House of Representatives, and later in the state Senate from 2004 – 2012, and rose to become the State Senate’s first female Minority and Majority Leader.
Carol was Montana’s Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor in 2000, running on a ticket which championed Montana’s Native Americans and helped to usher in a record number of Native American Montana legislators that year.
During her tenure in the Montana Senate, Carol served on the Finance and Claims, Law and Justice, Public Health and Local Government Committees, and was the Chair of the Senate Rules Committee. She successfully sponsored and passed legislation to ensure all of Montana’s children have access to full day kindergarten, a first for the state. She also co-sponsored legislation affirming the state’s responsibility to include the history of Montana’s Native American community as a component of all state school curricula.
Other legislative achievements include sponsorship of legislation establishing special education programs for Montana’s schools, several bills expanding the public rights of nursing mothers, and co-sponsorship of numerous bills supporting healthcare, environmental protection and education. Carol was also Chairwoman of a successful ballot initiative to expand Montana’s child health insurance coverage by raising the poverty level.
Prior to her career as a legislator, Carol worked as a non-profit executive and educator, which shaped her understanding and appreciation of public service. Carol began her career as a Head Start teacher in her hometown of Butte. In 1985 she co-founded and served as executive director of Peace Links, an international women’s organization dedicated to expanding the role of women in U.S. national security discussions. What started as a project by a group of Congressional wives, turned into a global peacemaking and cultural exchange platform which connected more than 35,000 American and Russian women via pen pal programs to promote cultural understanding during a time of uncertainty. Carol was later appointed as a delegate to the 1995 UN Conference on the Status of Women in Beijing, and on behalf of the U.S. Department of State traveled to Kyrgyzstan to work on special democracy-building projects encouraging women to run for office.
Carol is married to Pat Williams, a former nine-term Congressman from Montana and also an advisor to williamsworks. She remains active in the Missoula community, continuing to champion issues related to women’s rights and education and serving on a variety of boards, including the Missoula Community Foundation, Montanan magazine, and the National Board of the Delegation of Women. She also founded the Montana Majority PAC, later named Carol’s List, which helps recruit and support Democratic women candidates for office in the state of Montana. Carol has twice received the Jeanette Rankin Peace Award, in addition to the AFL-CIO Lifetime Achievement Award, the Peace Links International Woman of Vision Award, the Montana Conservation Champion Award, and was named the 1990 Western Montana College Alumni of the Year.