altDETROIT – Kevin Williams’ spectacular ascendance from being the youngest of  the 11 offspring of two grade school-educated parents to becoming the president and managing director of General Motors Canada is why he won the Trailblazer Award at the 2010 Global Automotive Summit held by the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

It’s about more than his illustrious career, however. During his climb to the top of GM’s hierarchy, Williams facilitated and cultivated a corporate culture of inclusiveness that’s unparalleled by GM’s contemporaries in the auto industry.

“Throughout my career, I have always worked hard to ensure that equality of opportunity exists for everyone, and I am truly honored to receive this award,” said Williams. “While I never expected to be recognized simply for doing the right thing, I hope that we can all use milestones like these to refocus, recalibrate, and continue pushing for positive change.” alt

Williams’ life certainly exemplifies this endeavor. While his parents’ education reached plateaus at grades 5 and 7, he exceeded his family’s expectations by being the first to earn a college degree. He began his GM career in 1983 as a reliability analyst at Buick City in Flint, Mich. Since then, he’s held leadership positions across many areas of the business. His most recent assignments include GM vice president and general manager of Service and Parts Operations, president and managing director of GM de Mexico, and vice president of quality for GM North America, during which time he also served as chairman of the GM African Ancestry Network, as well as Chairman of the Funding Board for the Black United Fund of Michigan. Williams is currently a member of the GM Diversity Leadership Team.

And it is that latter distinction, coupled with an august body of work, that led to Rainbow PUSH paying homage to Williams inside the Motor City Casino in downtown Motown.

“I am honored to pay special tribute to Kevin’s many successes and commitment to helping others,” said Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., president and founder of Rainbow PUSH Coalition. “Despite challenges that prove insurmountable to many, Kevin sets a strong example as an inspiration to us all.”

With a more streamlined General Motors’ portfolio of brands, Williams is expected to lord over the Canadian operations as it experiences its renaissance. –terry shropshire