Moving on: John Williams, who has been director of youth services for Oak Park Township for the past quarter century, has announced he's leaving to pursue other opportunities. | File photo

For nearly a quarter-century he has worked to curb youth involvement in drugs, gangs and violence, but John Williams has announced he’s leaving his position as director of youth services at Oak Park Township.

The township announced that Williams will be departing from the position on Jan. 11 “to pursue a future in the training and consulting business.”

Williams could not immediately be reached for comment. 

Township Manager Gavin Morgan said in an email that Williams came to the township from Family Services — now known as Thrive — and created the Youth Interventionist Program, an intergovernmental partnership that works with youth and their families on a case-by-case basis.

“Over the years, under John’s leadership, Youth Services has also contracted with and provided support to local youth-serving agencies to provide programming for thousands of kids annually, provided consulting to community organizations and individuals, and advocated for youth and families facing a variety of challenges,” Morgan said. 

The announcement comes just a few months after the Youth Interventionist program was recognized by the state of Illinois as a “shared service best practice.” 

The Journal of Local Government Shared Service Best Practices accolade was awarded to the program in August under Williams’ leadership. 

“Local leaders and residents know what is best for their communities and should be empowered to find solutions that will serve their unique interests,” Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti said in a press release in August.

Williams said at the time that communities “can go farther and be stronger and more successful together helping our youth than operating in silos.”

“The most important job in the world is raising good human beings,” he said in an August press release. “Families confronting the trauma and mental health issues around gangs, drugs and violence need all the community support we can lend.”

Morgan shared a story that is a “go to” tool for Williams in working with youth and families.

From The Protagoras by Plato, Protagoras responds to the challenge by Socrates on how virtue can be taught. 

“The gods entrust Prometheus and Epimetheus to distribute to these animals their appropriate capabilities. … By distributing different characteristics and faculties to the animals, Epimetheus distributes the different kinds of animals so as to ensure the survival of each kind,” the story goes.

“When Prometheus inspects Epimetheus’ work, however, he discovers that Epimetheus has left humans unclothed, unshod, unbedded, unarmed. Prometheus therefore distributes practical wisdom (the knowledge of fire and the means of procuring sustenance) amongst humans. 

“But humans live as scattered individuals, defenseless against wild animals because they have not come together as a community to fight off predators. Zeus, therefore, dispenses the notions of respect and justice to all humans, enabling them to live together in communities. Communities cannot function if only some members know how to live in a community; hence, the civic arts are distributed universally.”

tim@oakpark.com

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