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Trailblazer Leaguer: Charley Williams

Robin Schoen | Published on 4/6/2023

Charley Williams

Charley was first introduced to the LWVOC by member and fellow community activist Joanie Schirm, who invited him to join her for a Hot Topics presentation in 2007. 

Charley was immediately impressed with the quality of the program and quickly understood that not only was the LWV not just for women, it was one of the better civic education forums in the area. He quickly joined and became active in Voting Services.

That same year, Charley was pivotal in gaining Merrill Lynch as a Hot Topics annual  sponsor for several years. In 2007, Hot Topics attendance topped off at 70 members; it now averages 150 or more..“The LWVOC’s Hot Topics has become one of the most anticipated programs on the Central Florida regional public affairs calendar; it is unrivaled in League circles in Florida,” Charlie says.

In 2009, Charley joined Anne Geiger and Ann Hellmuth as co-president. In 2010, the 71st year of the LWVOC’s creation, Charlie was elected its first male President, Chair of Voter Services, and, soon after, State Chair of Voter Services (2011-2015). Not only was he the first male president of the LWVOC, he was the first male League president in Florida, and likely one of only a handful in the nation. 

During his tenure as President, the LWVOC launched its “Be Ready – 2012 Elections” campaign, featuring a QR reader to enable a free, quick, and easy way to update voter registrations and requests for absentee ballots. The “” service campaign morphed into “,” which was adopted by the Florida League to expand statewide. The “” campaign won the 2012 LWV National Award for best online voter engagement project, and Florida became the first League in the nation to offer smartphone technology for voter education and registration. 

Charley was also instrumental in creating Central Florida Spotlight, a public affairs program for WFTV-Channel 9. The program, which continues today, shared the views of Hot Topics’ presenters, and others, on politically neutral topics such as constitutional amendments, environmental issues, the Sunshine Law, and voter turnout. 

Looking forward, Charley says, “Given the political climate in Florida and nationally, it’s time to focus on the basics of civics. There’s a huge need to explain why voting is necessary—why all Americans need to pay their ‘civic rent.’ Voting is the core foundation of our democracy.”

He's especially proud that the LWVOC is now among the largest Leagues in the country. “This is the result of the steadfast efforts of so many—and an accomplishment we should all be proud of.”
*Shown below, a highlight of Charley from 2020