Though she was born in St. Louis, Missouri, Velesha P.Williams has spent most of her life in Mississippi. She moved to Jackson when she was 12 years old. An alumna of Jackson State University, Williams earned both a Bachelor of Science degree in 1983 and a Master of Art degree in Criminology and Justice Services in 1996.

Williams retired as the Director of the Metro Jackson Community Prevention Coalition, a unit within the Office of Community Engagement at Jackson State in June 2016. During her time at JSU, she served as principal investigator for several federal and state programs, which generated $10 million in grant funding for the university.

Williams is also a veteran. Prior to her tenure at JSU, she served in the U.S Army as a commissioned officer. During her time in the Army, Williams served as a Company Commander at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Aberdeen, Maryland, and as the acting inspector general at Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, Texas.

Williams and her husband, Bennett, returned to Mississippi in 1991. Since, they have remained as residents of Madison County. They have two children – Felicia R. Williams Ellis and son Bennett J. Williams II – and one grandson, Kobe.

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Will Stribling covered healthcare and breaking news for Mississippi Today.