North America

‘I Never Had Plans to Be a Leader like This‘

In the U.S., newly appointed Adventist judge reflects on her role and God’s guidance.

Laurie Trujillo, Northern California Conference, and Adventist Review
‘I Never Had Plans to Be a Leader like This‘

Honorable Judge Allison Williams, a member of the Northern California Conference in the United States, has made it into the history books. In November 2021, as one of the two judges appointed to the Sacramento County Superior Court, she became the first public defender in Sacramento County to rise to this level of leadership in the last 30 years.

“I was propelled to serve people and give back to my community when I started practicing 16 years ago,” Williams said. “I believe God bestowed upon me special gifts and blessed my work, I was successful as a public defender, and really enjoyed it.”

According to Williams, in 2020, she felt impressed by the Holy Spirit that she was too comfortable and needed to give more. “As I looked around my community, I saw the distress and distrust of the justice system, and I felt God telling me that I needed to be more and to serve my community in a different way,” she said.

From the time Williams applied for her appointment in January 2022, she felt the Holy Spirit removing many obstacles, making her journey, in her words, “full of miracles.” For instance, during the process the state judicial nomination evaluators mailed about 1,000 evaluations to almost everyone Williams had come in contact with during her career. When these evaluations came back, the appointee secretary asked her to come in for another interview.

“I worked in an adversarial system where prosecutors and public defenders advocate for different outcomes,” Williams explained. “Advocacy can lead to contentious moments which I have been a part of. I worried that others may not have viewed my advocacy as professional.”

However, there was no need to worry because God had it all worked out in advance, Williams said. “Out of all the returned evaluations, there was not one negative comment. Not one! I knew then, God wanted me on this leadership path.”

Marc Woodson, president of the Northern California Conference, believes Williams’ calling to ministry and her ability to engage the community is unique and that she has been given the opportunity to reveal God’s character. She agreed. “When I preside over cases, I can show compassion, patience, and be understanding. Equality, equity, and justice are values that are synonymous with our American system of jurisprudence and with my Christian faith.”

Williams says she never imagined her life would lead to where she is today. “I never had plans to be a leader like this — a black woman serving the community as a judge. But I remember a phrase [Adventist Church co-founder] Ellen G. White wrote, ‘Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God’s ideal for His children,’” Williams said.

The original version of this story was posted on the Northern California Conference Northern Lights email newsletter.

Laurie Trujillo, Northern California Conference, and Adventist Review