ADRS board elects Williams new chairman
The Alabama Board of Rehabilitation Services will be under new direction in the coming year.
During the Dec. 7 quarterly meeting in Montgomery, the board unanimously voted District 5 representative Eddie C. Williams as chairman and District 3 representative Penny Piland Foster as vice chairman.
Williams said he has always taken his role on the board very seriously because of the example it serves to others across the nation.
“It is an honor to be on the board,” he said. “I am always amazed and proud of the services that we provide for the state and how much of the country looks to Alabama for leadership. That is always very impressive to me.”
As chairman, Williams said he will do his best to aid the department in its mission to help adults and children with disabilities achieve his or her maximum potential.
“I’m looking forward to helping out in any way that I can in this position and as the parent of a special needs child,” he said, “this is just another opportunity to help.”
Williams, a Huntsville resident, has enjoyed a long career with one of Alabama’s most prestigious technology companies, Sanmina-SCI, a global leader in electronics manufacturing services. He is currently senior avionics program manager at Sanmina-SCI’s Defense and Aerospace Division facility in Huntsville.
Williams has been involved in a number of organizations, at both the community and national levels. His volunteer activities include serving as chairman of the board of directors of the Madison-Marshall County chapter of the American Red Cross; board member of Huntsville’s Downtown Rescue Mission; board member of the Greater Huntsville Chapter of the 100 Black Men of America; and member of the National Management Association, the leadership development organization for which he is national vice president.
As the parent of an adult son with autism, Williams has a personal knowledge and understanding of disability. He has a broad knowledge and understanding gained by serving as board member and treasurer of the North Alabama Autism Society as well as former chairman of the board of Phoenix (formerly the Huntsville Rehabilitation Foundation).
Williams represents business and industry on the board.
Foster, an Auburn resident, said she is excited to gain more knowledge about the department and step into a leadership role.
“I think it will be great for me to get even more involved (with the department),” she said. “I am excited to learn and grow in this role.”
Foster’s personal experience as the mother of a teenage daughter with Down syndrome gives her a unique perspective on disability services in Alabama. She has been a vocal and tireless advocate for Maggie as well as other children with special needs as a member of Alabama’s Interagency Coordinating Council, the Alabama Council on Developmental Disabilities, the Exceptional Outreach Organization, and the Montgomery Area Down Syndrome Outreach Group, and as the vice president of the Exceptional Foundation of East Alabama.
She is the founder of The Journey School, a nonprofit inclusive preschool, as well as a co-founder of TEAM 21, a networking group for parents of children with Down syndrome; and Blessings on the Plains, a nonprofit day program for adults with disabilities now known as the Exceptional Foundation of East Alabama.
Foster has a bachelor of science from the University of South Alabama, a master’s degree in early childhood and elementary education from the University of Alabama, and has taught kindergarten as well as elementary school.