The Religious Conference Management Association has announced W. “Bill” Williams Jr., CMP, who recently retired from his position as vice president of diversity/sales at Choose Chicago, as the recipient of its 2013 Award of Excellence. Williams earned the honor for his outstanding support of both the industry and RCMA itself, said RCMA Executive Director Harry Schmidt.

An Award of Excellence recipient, Schmidt said, “has an accomplished leadership track, is someone who has been a standard-setter, and one who is a strong ambassador. It is a person who is not only dedicated to faith-based meetings, but one who also has been a strong supporter of the Religious Conference Management Association.”

Williams has spent more than 40 years as a member of the hospitality industry, and more than 30 years with Choose Chicago, where he covers the SMERF (social, military, education, religious, and fraternal) market. A Chicago native, the retired Marine holds membership in a number of professional, social, and community organizations, and even has a street named after him in his hometown of Morgan Park, Ill.

Williams, among the most senior African-Americans in the U.S. convention bureau industry, is also nationally recognized as a leader in the promotion of cultural diversity within his trade, as well as a mentor for young people just starting their careers.

“He’s an iconic figure who is nationally known among a very diversified group of religious denominations and faith-based organizations,” Schmidt said. “He is the spokesperson, he is that landmark.”