Back in November, Governor Hogan appointed lawyer, Democratic Party activist, feminist and Greenbelter Nicole Williams to fill the District 22 seat in the Maryland House of Delegates previously held by Tawanna Gaines. That new role for her became a reality finally on January 8 when she was sworn in and attended her very first session of the House (where already 80 bills had been introduced, so lots of reading to do). Seeing her listed on the House of Delegates website (right) must have made it a little more real.
Though an appointee, Nicole didn’t exactly skate to her seat in the House of Delegates. She ran for one of three District 22 seats in 2018 and was the first runner-up. And there was a groundswell of vocal support for her being tapped to fill the vacancy.
Nicole has already been appointed to the Judiciary Committee and is a member of the Black Caucus and Women Legislators of Maryland.
I asked Nicole how she was managing the transition, what with her full legal practice in a firm in Virginia. She told me she works out of the firm’s Bethesda office, so the commute isn’t quite as bad. And she’s taken a leave of absence from the firm while the House is in session full-time – through April. With delegate pay now at $50,330 a year, for some that’s their only employment, depending on their circumstances and, I’m guessing, how expensive a part of the state they reside in.
Nicole also has a staff, of course – a chief of staff, plus Greenbelt activist Donna Hoffmeister, who’s “helping out in my office.” What a wonderful volunteer opportunity! There are also two interns assigned to the office.
The kind of legal work Nicole does is so interesting. The firm’s website says her practice is “devoted to the representation of community associations in Maryland and D.C.” Seems very applicable to solving communities’ problems throughout the state.
Nicole grew up in DC and attended the Duke Ellington School for the Arts as a musician, playing both violin and viola. She was part of the DC Youth Orchestra during those years, and still plays violin “occasionally.”
She next attended the University of Pittsburgh (“Pitt”), where she paid tuition and fees by waiting tables, tending bar, working at Macy’s, tutoring student athletes and doing peer-to-peer counseling for the school’s Family Health Council.
She majored in history and communications.
On top of that full load, she was politically active in college, working on the issue of on reproductive rights.
I love this photo of Nicole with civil rights legend Dorothy Height, taken in 2008.
Nicole, now 43, moved into the Greenbriar Condos in Greenbelt in 2013. While living in Greenbelt she’s served as president of the Greenbelt Democratic Club and as 3rd VP of Maryland Democratic Party. (She stepped down from the latter job upon being tapped as delegate, and Konrad Herling now holds that position.)
An ardent supporter of women’s health services, she was on the board of NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland through 2016, serving three years as its chair. Recently she’s been helping to form a new Greenbelt group promoting women’s reproductive health services.
Best Wishes and Go Get ’em!
I know we all wish Nicole great success in her new role in the state capital, where she’ll be working hard for all of us. Some are predicting that she’ll go even farther in politics and I wouldn’t be surprised because along with the great resume, she’s easy to talk to, and a fun person.