The Ernest E. Williams Lecture Series was initiated in 2000 by the Foellinger Foundation as a tribute to Ernie Williams for his close work with Helene Foellinger at The News-Sentinel and his leadership contributions to the Foellinger Foundation. This annual lecture features prominent speakers who share their perspectives on societal values, community leadership and effective philanthropy.

Speakers have covered topics such as the implications of board governance and strategic restructuring for nonprofits. Also addressed have been the effects of generational changes and technological applications on the changing nonprofit workforce.

Ernest E. Williams, Helene's longtime News-Sentinel editor, became a director of the Foundation in 1966 and its chairman following her death in 1987. A fiscal conservative and progressive humanist, Ernie helped direct the Foundation's attention toward removing barriers that can impede a child's development or an adult's success.

Shortly before his death, Ernie Williams wrote that, "Neither the Foundation's directors nor their partners can forget the primary focus of all these efforts is people, particularly those with the greatest economic and cultural needs."

He added, "The selection of organizations and programs best addressing those needs is one of the most difficult challenges facing the Foundation and its partners." More than fifty years into this lesson in giving, we are still guided by the Foellingers' values and by Ernie's sound advice, and still focused on the people of Allen County.


Ernest E. Williams
Neither the Foundation’s directors nor their partners can forget the primary focus of all these efforts is people, particularly those with the greatest economic and cultural needs.
— Ernest E. Williams