Paxton Williams is an attorney, former nonprofit executive, and actor/playwright who believes in the power of the arts and humanities, and particularly the underlying stories that spur the creative endeavor to inspire, connect, and transform.
In 2000, Williams authored a one-man play on the life of George Washington Carver that he has performed more than 400 times in 24 states and in England before audiences that included elementary school children, at-risk youth, the incarcerated, governors and senators, scientists, corporate and civic leaders, and knights and dames. From 2005-2009, Williams was executive director of the George Washington Carver Birthplace Association, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization working to advance Carver’s historical, scientific, and educational legacy through its support of the National Park Service at Carver National Monument and other programming. Recently, Williams served as associate producer for the Iowa Public Television documentary on Carver and was the content expert on the National Geographic Reader series book on Carver.
Williams holds degrees in political science, communication studies, and public policy from Iowa State, the University of Michigan, and the University of Birmingham in England, where he studied under the auspices of a Rotary Ambassadorial Fellowship. While in England, he was on staff at The Drum, the UK’s largest arts centre devoted to the promotion of African, Afro-Caribbean, and Asian arts and culture. In addition to his portrayal of Carver, Paxton has written a play on the life and works of poet Paul Laurence Dunbar that premiered in March 2014 in Chicago at The Poetry Foundation. A proponent of the law and literature movement, Williams wrote a chapter for American Guy: Masculinity in American Law and Literature edited by Martha Nussbaum and Saul Levmore and published by Oxford University Press in 2014. A graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, Williams lives in Des Moines, where he is currently an assistant attorney general in the Iowa Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General.