– 12 ICONS OF NEW ORLEANS –
Selected by JPMorgan Chase
THE ICON: Tim Williamson
THE LEGACY: Born and raised in the Crescent City, former NOLA Media Group CEO Tim Williamson always believed in the potential of his hometown.
Williamson cofounded The Idea Village, a nonprofit committed to attracting, supporting and retaining the city’s up-and-coming entrepreneurs, in 2000. It’s during his 16-year tenure with this organization that he accomplished what he considers his most meaningful work.
In the organization’s earliest days, Williamson explains, community members raised doubts that New Orleans embodied the entrepreneurial spirit he envisioned. In spite of this, he pressed on with his mission to access local talent, confident that his vibrant city offered ample opportunity to create a collective of like-minded businesspeople who could help their respective communities grow.
Eventually, his perseverance paid off. Williamson’s role in guiding the nonprofit as it sought to unite the city’s business-minded residents was instrumental in catalyzing a movement that’s still present today.
The moment that stands out above all, however, was returning to the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and seeing the businesses The Idea Village had helped already up and running in their efforts to shed light during those dark days.
“New Orleans is one of the most special places in the world, and it’s special in the way we connect to the community,” he observes. “I’ve always thought New Orleans could be a model for how people can love a community.”
Now, Williamson continues to serve New Orleans in order to create a place where his family, and his daughter in particular, can flourish. He believes that great growth is in the city’s future, and while he acknowledges that this growth is sure to bring challenges, he’s confident that efforts to connect current leaders with the next generation can help New Orleans retain all that made it special in the first place.
THE INSPIRATION: “I see a city starting to experience growth that we haven’t had for the last fifty, sixty, seventy years. That’s going to create opportunities, but also create challenges concerning not only how we progress as a vibrant community, but how we do so while preserving what makes us great.”