Zuberi Bakari Williams
District Court of Maryland
At the age of 36, Zuberi Williams was appointed by then-Gov. Martin O’Malley as one of the youngest judges in Maryland history, and he takes seriously that opportunity.
In 2016, Williams started Maryland’s participation with the ABA’s Judicial Internship Opportunities Program (JIOP), a program aimed at getting law students of color, women and differing sexual orientations access where there would normally not be any.
He took JIOP to new levels by singlehandedly forging powerful relationships with some of America’s top companies, including Facebook, Google, Discovery Channel and Under Armour. Williams on average hires five law student interns and personally walks them into companies’ headquarters to meet with executives. Those meetings allow interns to learn how to be better candidates for employment while providing executives exposure to qualified diverse candidates in intimate settings.
“I believe that opportunity is the oxygen of our community,” Williams said. “It is required to sculpt the true complexion of America’s future and shortens long odds.”
Williams is no stranger to long odds and how opportunity changes them. His mother is an immigrant from a small South American village, and his father was raised on the west side of Chicago’s inner city. He said opportunities afforded to his parents helped them to succeed and set about a course for success for their family. He believes in passing that tradition on to his children and his community.
“I am obsessed with providing that oxygen to others, including the poor, people of color, women and members of our LGBTQ community to allow them authentic access to the ‘American Dream,’” he said.
Williams’ son was born with a rare genetic mutation that mimics Asperger’s. Now 6 years old, Williams’ son has spoken only three words. Williams spends time volunteering at his son’s school for special needs children and said it is one of the most fulling parts of his life.