A political and community organizer from Altadena California, William Syms began his career as a 16 year old Vice-President of the Pasadena City College chapter of the NAACP where he worked to educate young people about leveraging their economic power while pursuing education. His activism continued at Clark Atlanta University where worked he with the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity Inc. and NAACP to champion restorative justice legislation throughout the state of Georgia. While at Clark Atlanta University William was part of the youth and college division team that helped secure the release of Marcus Dixon, Genarlo Wilson and helped shut down teen prison camps in the state of Florida. In 2004 under his leadership the Georgia State Youth and College division won State Youth and College Division of the Year.
William refined his organizing skills as a Congressional Field representative for Congressman Adam Schiff, where he managed federal issues in the areas of science, technology and entertainment. During his tenure with the United States Congress William helped secure over $300,000 in federal funding for local organizations, participated in Congressional Delegations to Taiwan and China and played an integral part in influencing his boss to support HBCU funding. Following his time with congress William returned to work with the NAACP as a Regional Field Fellow following his time with the NAACP he joined the National Campaigns team for Amnesty International.
After spending the beginning of his career working around the country William decided to return home and work on creating a more connected community in his hometown. William served as the Neighborhood Services Coordinator for the City of Pasadena where he lead the Pasadena Neighborhood Leadership Academy teaching residents how to organize and advocate for issues important in their neighborhoods as well as developed an annual week long civic engagement training for youth in the city. In addition to this work William worked with the Sunset Heights Neighborhood Association to help them receive recognition as one of America’s Neighborhoods of the Year from Neighborhoods USA in 2015. Following his time with the City of Pasadena William accepted a position at Pasadena City College where he develops student support services for male students of color, organizing local groups to provide pathways to college for students and create bridge programs to ease the transition for first generation college.
A life long community servant William Syms increases opportunity for young people, serves as a cultural translator and continues to work on restorative justice issues in community’s nation wide.
William Syms is what you would call a doer. A man that loves his community who has basically dedicated his life to the uplifting of his community, but with an emphasis on the African-American males.
On Monday, August 14, 2017, William is calling for 100 Black men to come out to four different locations and greet the children as they return to school for the fall semester.
The participating schools are McKinley Middle School, Altadena Elementary and John Muir High School. The event starts at 7:30 at both schools as a way to expose the kids to all different types of Black men and to show that the children are cared about.