Like many of our current staff, Monique “Mo” Williams joined the Civicorps family as a Corpsmember (technically, she joined the East Bay Conservation Corps, as we were called in 1999 when Mo first came through our doors). Over the following 20 years, she left Civicorps twice – but both times she came back. She’s worked on just about every crew and touched every part of our conservation work with our key partners around Alameda and Contra Costa counties: East Bay Regional Parks District, East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), Caltrans, the City of Oakland, the City of Berkeley and the list goes on.
During her time as a Corpsmember, Monique promoted to Crew Leader at the Job Training Center. A string of promotions over a dozen years followed: Assistant Supervisor, then Supervisor, then Coordinator. At a certain point, she decided to leave the Corps to try something new at one of our partner agencies, Alameda County Flood Control. It turns out her heart wasn’t in it, and Mo realized her passion was to help young adults. As a result, she returned to Civicorps as Lead Supervisor, and a year later was moved up once again to Coordinator. In sum, Civicorps has spent 20 years valuing Monique’s enormous skills and expertise; in 2017, Civicorps recognized her as Staff Member of the Year.
Is your head spinning yet? But wait, there’s more!
In July 2019, Civicorps promoted Monique yet again to JTC Coordinator. There’s just a magic to Monique that’s hard to capture in words. But we’re trying anyway! We interviewed Mo to get a glimpse into her world….and for the world to get a glimmer of Mo.
Q: What’s your secret sauce? How do you influence Corpsmembers?
A: I tell Corpsmembers to keep going, don’t stop. Set your expectations, don’t let my expectations be yours. Make sure you keep striving. A lot of these young adults are coming in with a lot of trauma, so you have to really motivate them and show them that it’s okay to be successful. It’s okay to walk away, and it’s okay to be good; it’s okay to be great and to be positive. You don’t have to be this tough person or this “gangster” just to be fly. Just keep doing you.
Q: How would you describe your leadership?
A: I was born with it! I’ve always been caring, caring for the well being of others, and very motherly. I will stand for what is right. There is no favoritism, what is right is right. It’s what I believe in.
East Bay Regional Parks District and Doing Our Best
Q: Tell us about the most memorable project you worked on with our longtime partner, the East Bay Regional Parks District?
A: I worked on a crib wall in Sibley [Volcanic Regional Preserve]. It was challenging, that’s why I can still remember it. The trail was washed away and we had to haul these long poles. It was teamwork, we had to move together and pace ourselves to bring this material up to the site. After we got the material, we used a saw to dig into the earth and install them. It took us a week to finish, but the amount of energy and strength… oooh, I can still remember it and I was a Corpsmember, hard but memorable, and that was 20 years ago!
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you like to give to Corpsmembers?
A: Be truthful to yourself, be truthful to your calling. We can all go out there and make more money, but be honest with yourself. The world is happening, and we need more people to be honest, caring, and wholesome. You don’t have to be angry, be all that you can be and do your best.
Lightning Question Round!
Q: Who’s your inspiration and why?
A: I’ve been at Civicorps for 20 years and I probably will be here as long as Cornelius [Shields] has been here [30 years!] I don’t see the light dimming any time soon. Cornelius handed me my application! He is like Yoda, I’ve never seen him upset, never in a bad mood. Always greeting people with open arms. That is amazing to me.
Q: What’s your favorite East Bay bakery?
A: Me! I am the bakery. You’ve had my peach cobbler and banana pudding. I can bake many things, sweet potato pie, red velvet… I have a list because I can’t free style it: lemon cake, chocolate cake, carrot cake, cheesecakes, peanut butter pie, oatmeal raisin cookies. I am the bakery.
Q: What’s your favorite piece of Civicorps swag? Is it a Civicorps hat? Tote bag? A t-shirt? A coffee mug?
A: I love Civicorps’ culture. It never changes. People can leave and come back and not much has changed. We will continue to work hard towards the community. That’s the swag!
We think you’ll agree Mo’s last answer encapsulates why she is so well loved and respected by her co-workers and Corpsmembers alike. Monique, Civicorps loves you back. We have been extraordinarily lucky to have you in the family for 20 years. Here’s to the next 20!!