Too often in honoring “amazing” people (the top 10s, the 40 under 40) media honors the power players, the executive directors, those media-friendly agitators. But that underestimates the impact a person in a support position can have on those around them. So is the case with Jacqueline Williams, a receptionist at New York’s Gay Men’s Health Crisis, one of the world’s largest organizations providing prevention, care, and advocacy for people with HIV.
“I can honestly say that she has been the most inspiring woman in my life since the first day that I met her!” says her colleague Mariah Burnett, an HIV testing counselor at GMHC’s David Geffen Center for HIV Prevention and Health Education. Williams has been HIV-positive for nearly 20 years and has been an inspiration for other women, poz or not, for equally long — both at church and at work.
“From sharing her testimony at church and to mentoring the young women around her, she has taught myself and plenty of others what an amazing woman is,” Burnett says, adding that she and the women around her have learned from Williams self-respect and “how to have dignity in any and everything that I put my mind to. She is a very wise and carefree woman who spreads nothing but love and elated energy when she is in your presence. She is truly the definition of an amazing woman…she is the most beautiful person I ever met, seriously.”