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Chris Williams is an American national and is a trained economist and sociologist. He is a well-established development practitioner with over twenty-five years of experience in international organizations across Africa, Asia and the Americas.
Before joining the Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) as Executive Director, Chris held a number of senior posts in global fund management, advocacy, fund raising, and policy research at UN-Habitat. He also implemented programmes to upgrade water, sanitation and shelter in peri-urban and informal settlements. These positions included serving as Director of the Washington and New York UN-Habitat offices, and as founding Director of the Human Settlements Financing Division in Nairobi, Kenya.
Prior to UN-Habitat, Chris worked in Africa and the United States promoting community economic development. His work with homeless shelters, community organizations, financial intermediaries, and community lending institutions gave him exposure to private, popular and public sectors.
Chris began his career as a Policy and Research Coordinator in the United States before moving to international development work and specifically community development programming in Kenya. During his term at UN-Habitat , he worked to integrate the Water and Sanitation Trust Fund and the Slum Upgrading Facility as key components of the Human Settlements Financing Division; and launched a resource mobilization strategy to raise US$30 million. Later, in his role as the Director of UN-Habitat in New York, he played a strategic role within the UN Development Group (UNDG) which led to increased coordination of initiatives on water, sanitation and slum upgrading at country level. More recently, in Washington DC, he worked to promote enhanced understanding of and access to clean drinking water and sanitation, and advance these policy issues within the context of sustainable urban development focused on low-income populations in developing countries.
Chris has studied economics, public policy and sociology, and holds a Ph.D. from the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science at the New School for Social Research.
Chris Williams was appointed Executive Director of WSSCC in 2012. He sees sanitation as a strategic entry point for social and economic development and believes that targeted investments in behaviour change are crucial to achieving improved sanitation and hygiene at scale.