Sam Williams

(b. 1945)

In 1980 we first referred to Williams as a “Tennessee stud.” From the tiny town of Obion (population 1,083), Williams in the late 1960s was student body president at Georgia Tech and an intern for Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. He worked for John Portman for more than twenty years, eventually becoming chief operating officer, though the two had a mysterious falling-out in 1994—which ended in an out-of-court settlement. Williams has proved a strong consensus builder and nimble visionary, serving as president of Central Atlanta Progress during the Olympic era and as head of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce since 1997.

Ingrained Leadership Williams’s ability to shape the issues is reflected in his longtime hobby as an amateur wood turner.

Photograph courtesy of the Atlanta History Center