Former Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams was back in the Valley on Thursday for a leadership seminar, where he shared his experiences with the community and lessons learned in his extensive career.

Williams, who served as Mayor of Youngstown from 2005 to 2011, went on to serve in the United States Department of Commerce under President Barack Obama and then joined the Hartford Foundation as CEO.

In a release about the event, host Valley Partners said the goal was to allow residents to "gather wisdom, insight, and perspective" from Williams.

"This will be an impactful conversation on leadership and leadership development," said Matthew Longmire, business resource manager with Valley Partners. "I want all attendees to grow together as we lean into the discussion together!"

After the event, Williams joined 21 News at 5 for an interview about his work to dismantle structural racism and increase social and economic mobility. 

"We think that philanthropy has an obligation and an opportunity to try to address some of the underlying root causes. Whether it be food instability, housing instability, whether it be some of the educational barriers or economic barriers that exist," Williams said. "Really, we're about putting philanthropy into action based on the data that informs us to help eliminate some of those barriers."

Williams extended some praise to local nonprofits who are working on those philanthropic efforts, pointing to the Wean Foundation, Youngstown Foundation, and Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley as organizations working to improve the community by helping members overcome systematic barriers.

Williams also spoke about revitalization efforts in Youngstown, pointing to the Youngstown 2010 plan penned during his administration as an origin for many of the ideas we see coming to fruition now.

"The things that were planned 15 years ago are coming to fruition now. We're seeing a new vibrancy," Williams said. "Yes, there are still some significant challenges in this city, as there are in many cities across the country, but the progress continues and I think people should be proud of what they're seeing."