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James Williams

Vice President of Criminal Justice Advocacy


James directs the state and federal advocacy portfolio for criminal justice reform at Arnold Ventures. In this role James works with the criminal justice team and all of Arnold Ventures to develop and implement the most effective advocacy strategies to achieve meaningful, lasting reforms.

James brings to Arnold Ventures a 15-year track record of advocacy success across a diverse portfolio of policy issues. Most recently, he was Founder and President of Engage Cuba, the leading coalition of businesses and organizations working to promote stronger economic engagement with Cuba, where he led a successful national effort to re-establish diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. He established bipartisan state councils of business and civic leaders in 19 states and partnerships in all 50 states.

Previously, James served as the Director of Public Policy at Trimpa Group, providing strategic political and government relations consulting for philanthropists, corporations, and nonprofit clients. He oversaw a portfolio of campaigns and legislative advocacy initiatives on LGBTQ equality, drug policy, gun violence, health care, and electoral reform at the state and federal levels.

James has also been a consultant to the Bonner Group, a political fundraising consulting firm, and coordinated partnerships for the German Marshall Fund of the United States, an international public policy and grant-making institution dedicated to improving transatlantic relations. He is an alum of the John Kerry for President campaign in 2004.

His work has been regularly featured in the national and international media, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Fox News, NPR, and CNN.

James graduated with a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University.

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Criminal Justice


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