Alaska’s Top Hounds
March 31, 2010
With only 33 Loyola alumni living in Alaska—a state of 686,000, Greyhounds are easily outnumbered.
When the Alaska Journal of Commerce selected people for its 2010 list of Alaska’s Top 40 under 40, however, two Hounds made the list.
Stephen F. Williams, ’92, and Jimmy Hillig, ’94, were recognized for their work for organizations advancing mental health services, criminal justice issues, and philanthropic efforts in the state.
Williams came to Alaska to work with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC), largely because he had some control over the location and type of volunteer experience he would have. “Ever since I was a child I’ve wanted to go to Alaska,” said Williams. “My JVC year was spent working at the Arc of Anchorage, an agency providing a variety of community-based services to developmentally disabled and mentally ill children and adults.
His experiences at Loyola played a large part in his decision first to enroll in JVC—and then to remain in Alaska, and the non-profit world, once his JVC commitment wrapped up.
“The values of social justice and service were instilled through my formal Jesuit education,” he said, “but, more importantly, by how my teachers and professors embodied those values and unconsciously modeled them through their everyday activities.”
Since 2005 he has served as the program officer for the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority. “The goal of ‘the Trust’ is to serve as a catalyst for change and improvement in Alaska’s mental health continuum of care,” said Williams.
He is also a member of the state’s Criminal Justice Working Group, a policy-level entity that works with a number of other agencies to develop long-range policies to improve the integration of the criminal justice and health and social services systems.
Of course, fulfilling as his work is, it is not without its headaches. “The frustration is working through antiquated bureaucratic policies at the federal, state, tribal, and local provider levels that deter or prevent collaboration and effective program services,” he said. “The satisfaction I get in my job comes from identifying, navigating, and cutting through those policies to develop collaborations that result in better and more efficient intergovernmental—systems—in this case improving health care services for Alaskans.”