Kelly Williams has enjoyed a 30 year career as an entrepreneur in private market investing and founded the Customized Fund Investment Group (CFIG) with her colleagues in 1999 at The Prudential Insurance Company of America. CFIG moved to DLJ and then Credit Suisse where it grew to become a market leading provider of customized investment solutions for institutional investors in the alternative asset space, with over $30 billion in assets managed before Ms. Williams led its sale in 2014. One of her proudest accomplishments was the establishment of CFIG’s emerging manager practice, with a focus on investing in diverse managers, as well as establishing its Small, Emerging and Diverse Manager conference as one of the industry leading gatherings for alternative investment managers and investors.
Kelly is a proud New Yorker whose ancestors first arrived in New York in the 17th century. Born in Newburgh, NY, she is the first in her family ever to attend college. Kelly graduated from Union College with a degree in Political Science and Mathematics in 1986 and from NYU Law School in 1989. While at Union, Ms. Williams also participated in the College’s first term abroad to Japan. After graduation from NYU, Ms. Williams spent 4 years with the firm of Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy before moving to Prudential in 1993.
In 2007, Kelly and a group of 12 other female leaders founded the Private Equity Women Investor Network, a global network which includes 700 of the most senior female investors in the private equity industry. PEWIN focuses on providing opportunities for senior women to do business together and to increase the profile of women in the industry. As Chair and co-CEO of PEWIN, Kelly conceived Project Pinklight which supports women in establishing their own private equity funds.
In 2015, Kelly established The Williams Legacy Foundation to further her philanthropic mission to promote diversity and fellowship and address the loneliness epidemic in America. Through the Foundation, Williams and her team focus on supporting a variety of programs and initiatives, including the Williams Center for Campus Community Safety and the Constructive Engagement Forum established by President David Harris at Union College.
Kelly has been honored as a leader in the investment industry with numerous awards and accolades including being named one of the Most Powerful Women in Finance for 4 years running by American Banker, receiving the Women of Power and Influence Award from the National Organization for Women, the Leading by Example Award from The Toigo Foundation, the Leadership Award from SEO, the Trailblazer Award from the Association of Asian American Investment Managers and from the Alternative Investment Forum. She also serves on numerous non-profit boards, including as Vice Chair of the Board of Commissioners of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Olana Partnership, The National Philanthropic Trust, The Robert Toigo Foundation, Union College, The New York School of Interior Design and the Nantucket Historical Association. She is member of the board of directors of The Greenbrier Companies (GBX) and Grasshopper Bank.