NCCU Alumnus Elected to Durham City Council

Posted December 17, 2021, 9:37AM

Leonardo Williams, ’05, ’15, was recently elected to the Ward III Durham City Council seat. A local small-business owner, Williams hopes to translate first-hand entrepreneurial experience into positive change and greater prosperity for the Durham community.

Williams credits wanting to fulfill a need in the business community as his inspiration to run for city council.

“I simply saw a need, and I stood up to advocate on behalf of that need. That’s why I’m here,” Williams said.

Williams’ policy platform was heavily aspired by his experiences as a small-business owner, community leader and former educator. One of his core priorities is to establish a city-wide apprenticeship program for Durham youth.

“We have a growing city, my goal is to engage our youth starting at an earlier age by economically liberating them while also collaborating with small businesses across the city to provide internships and mentorship.”

A former educator and school administrator, Williams is no stranger to leadership roles. He began his career as a teacher, leading to positions as assistant band director, band director and assistant principal in Durham Public Schools. He also served as senior district official for Warren County schools.

Williams devotes his spare time to several causes and to the Durham community. He has served in roles including chair of the North Carolina Association of Education, executive board member for the Durham Association of Education, member of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce and was an educational consultant for North Carolina governor Roy Cooper’s administration. He also co-founded the Durham Small Business Coalition, which coordinated during the coronavirus pandemic to raise $3 million to prevent the closure of small, locally owned businesses.

Williams and his wife, alumna Zweli Williams, own Zweli’s Kitchen, a full-service Zimbabwean restaurant. Zweli’s Kitchen recently expanded its cuisine offerings to Duke University students with a location in the university’s Divinity Cafe. The couple also plans to open a third location in 2022 in downtown Durham.

Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in music education before earning his master’s degree in educational leadership from NCCU.

Williams is an active member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., in which he participates in several of the organization’s mentorship initiatives. He is also a member of Kappa Kappa Psi band fraternity.

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