Member, Kansas Health Institute Board of Directors
Van Williams is the Vice President of Strategic Communications and Mentoring at Youth Horizons where he oversees community- and school-based mentoring programs involving about 150 youth and mentors, supervises a half-dozen employees and manages communication strategies at the Christian faith-based nonprofit.
Prior to joining Youth Horizons, Van served in a variety of roles in local government, including the Director of Strategic Communications for Sedgwick County, and Public Information Officer/Chief Spokesman for the City of Wichita. Previously, Van spent 16 years at the Wichita Eagle as an award-winning investigative reporter, award-winning sportswriter, election editor and news editor. Van is a founding board member of Real Men, Real Heroes, a mentoring organization serving fatherless boys and the recipient of President Bush’s Call to Service Award in 2007. He has served on the board of Wichita Festivals Inc. and The Kansas African-American Museum, which, in 2016, honored him with the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award. Van also has been a member of several other youth-mentoring organizations, including the YMCA and a Jabara Family Foundation entrepreneurial program designed to teach financial literacy to minority youth. He was a participant in Leadership Wichita 2007 and several Kansas Leadership Center programs. He served as a varsity high school basketball coach at The Independent School and is the founder of an AAU summer travel program, Team Perry Ellis 34 (Team PE 34), which plays under his nonprofit River City Hoops. A native of Wichita, Van earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s in public administration from Wichita State University. He and his wife, Kristi, have two adult daughters, Brooke and Kelsey, both graduates of Kansas State University; and a son, Christian, a senior at Wichita Trinity Academy.