Michael L. Williams is a commissioner of the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state's oldest regulatory commission. He served as its chairman from September 1999 to September 2003 and again from July 2007 to February 2009. Williams began his tenure at the commission in January 1999 following his appointment by Gov. George W. Bush to fill a vacant seat. He was then elected statewide in November 2000 to complete the unexpired term, and was reelected to a full six-year term in 2002 and then again in November 2008. He is the first African American in Texas history to hold an executive statewide elected post.
Williams serves as chairman of the Governorís Competiveness Council and the Governorís Clean Coal Technology Council. He represents the governor and the commission on both the Southern States Energy Board and the Interstate Mining Compact Commission. He is also an appointee to the National Coal Council, an advisory board to the U.S. Secretary of Energy. Williams also serves as the Texas Railroad Commissionís ìpoint personî for the agencyís regulatory reform and technology modernization efforts.
An advocate of alternative energy, Williamsí ìBreathe Easyî initiative champions the conversion of Texas public and private fleets, especially school buses, from diesel and gasoline to environmentally cleaner, cheaper and domestically produced natural gas and propane.
He is the creator and co-sponsor of the ìWilliams Future Innovators,î a summer camp designed to inspire the next generation of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians. Williams was an adjunct professor at Texas Southern University in the School of Public Affairs and Texas Wesleyan School of Law. He earned a bachelorís, a masterís and a law degree, from the University of Southern California.
Williams initiated the Texas response against the tragedy in Darfur and has served in a volunteer capacity as the general counsel of the Republican Party of Texas, the chairman of the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission, on the board of directors of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Our Mother of Mercy Catholic School.
Previously, Williams served as general counsel to a Texas high-tech corporation and of counsel with the law firm of Haynes and Boone, L.L.P.
In 1990, President George H. W. Bush appointed Williams assistant secretary of Education for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education, a position once held by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Bush also appointed Williams as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Law Enforcement at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. In that capacity, he had policy oversight responsibility for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Customs Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
Williams also served in the Department of Justice as Special Assistant to Attorney General Richard Thornburgh. In 1988, he was awarded the attorney general's "Special Achievement Award" for the conviction of six Ku Klux Klan members. Williams served as a prosecutor in the Reagan Justice department and was an assistant district attorney in his hometown of Midland.
He is a member of Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Arlington, Texas. He and his wife Donna have been married more than 20 years.