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Volunteer Spotlight: Carolyn Williams

Having recently retired from her career in corporate philanthropy, Carolyn Williams was browsing AARP’s website for volunteer opportunities when she happened to find CYS listed as an organization active in her Hawthorne community.

A trained communicator and life coach, she was intrigued by the description of restorative justice mediation, and became a CYS volunteer mediator in the fall of 2017. As Carolyn recalls, interaction with CYS trainers, together with immersion in the readings and practical exercises of mediation, opened her mind to the tremendous social potential of restorative justice.

Taking her first steps to mediate restitution agreements between youth and the person to whom they’d caused harm was immensely gratifying. Carolyn went on to complete the CYS family mediation training in the following year. Hearing CYS Executive Director Jessica Ellis speak about the challenges faced by traumatized and over-policed teens, about the healing and learning youth can experience in diversion, and the impact matures adults can have in their own communities, further deepened Carolyn’s appreciation of CYS and its mission. Carolyn and Jessica were recently interviewed on the subject of CYS’s successful diversion programs by MORE Radio Network’s Anissa McNeil.

In addition to contributing her time, energy, and experience to the CYS mission, Carolyn became the first volunteer, to our knowledge, to make CYS a part of her birthday celebration. An avid Facebook poster, Carolyn invited a number of friends to take part in a Facebook Fundraiser by making a special contribution to CYS. During the month of July, sixteen of Carolyn’s friends contributed a very generous total of $875! With an initial goal in mind, Carolyn brought the total up to a four-digit gift with a significant contribution of her own.

With her 25 years of experience guiding corporate donations at the Gas Company and its parent, Sempra Energy, Carolyn recently expressed an interest in advising CYS as a member of the newly formed Board of Directors Communications and Development Committee. The new volunteer committee will guide CYS community engagement efforts through the swiftly evolving landscape in the year ahead.

For all the changes and challenges the past year has presented, CYS is, as it has always been, anchored by the special relationships with our cherished volunteers, each one a unique expression of our mutual commitment to youth, families, and a justice system that serves them. Thank you, Carolyn, for your dedication to youth and families!

If you would like to get involved in CYS' work, please email us at: [email protected] or visit



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