Back Story - Bios From Your Board

Jody Williams - Public Relations & Website Chair

Originally appeared in The Botanical Artist - Volume 18, Issue 2


Jody is the powerhouse behind ASBA’s new website. From the first discussions of what was needed to dreams of what could be, Jody has shepherded the new and will continue to do so into Phase II. This is her second year as a member of the Board of Directors.  Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Jody grew up surrounded by the cornfields of Illinois. She loved natural history, collecting rocks and seashells, enjoying identifying what she had found. As a child, she always took art classes in school. Her marketing drive appeared at a young age, as she would hang a clothesline across her front yard and pin her watercolors up to sell them.

After earning a degree in mechanical engineering at University of Illinois, Jody worked in various industries including petroleum, aerospace, and aluminum automotive parts manufacturing.  At McDonnell Douglas, she worked on developing new materials used on spacecraft, aircraft and missiles. In those fields, Jody learned to evaluate situations, recognize problems and opportunities, and create a structured approach to getting results. 

After receiving a large watercolor painting of iris for a wedding gift, Jody took a few watercolor classes. Flowers were often her choice of subject and always on a white background. She was asked why she didn’t put any backgrounds in the paintings and replied that she just felt the flowers didn’t need them. When her children came along, Jody spent eight years at home with them. She volunteered with a national committee of the Society of Automotive Engineers, working with executives at GM, Caterpillar and others, implementing a comprehensive project to promote math and science and introduce engineering design concepts in K-12 grades. This project included developing curricula, working with schools, teaching teachers the program and recruiting engineers to partner with teachers. Working with those executives was an eye-opening experience for Jody, prompting her to get an MBA.

Once her children were in school, she went back to work for a major corporation that manufactured performance materials, primarily focusing on marketing, but touching on fields of accounting, strategy and logistics. She worked on TV commercials, magazine ads and traveled extensively. When that company was sold and moved away from her home in St. Louis, Jody decided it was a good time to go back to an original love – art.  When she became aware of ASBA she was immediately reminded of those early paintings she did of flowers. Here was a whole organization of people who didn’t care if her flowers had no backgrounds! Now, she looks forward to honing her botanical art skills, which began in a class with Marilyn Garber at the Missouri Botanical Garden. She says she has completed every exercise in Katie Lee’s graphite drawing book.

She hopes to develop a group of botanical artists in the St. Louis area.  She is proud of her farm in the St. Francois Mountains, from the Precambrian era, these igneous mountains are the oldest exposed rock in North America, characterized by their pink granite glades. She and her husband spend much time and energy on the land, maintaining a small vineyard and a large garden, working on conservation projects. Her interests in plants lean toward heirloom vegetables and old country farm flowers – peonies, iris, hydrangeas, gladiolas. She is intrigued by mushrooms and loves to forage for morels, chanterelles and black trumpets. 

Jody’s service on the ASBA board has been focused on Public Relations, including blogs for ASBA exhibitions, and by extension, the website. In her words, she “likes to do significant work with good people. That’s what life is all about.” She is fulfilled by working on a great project and seeing what has been accomplished. She believes that there are a lot of great projects to be done at ASBA a she is excited about being involved in them going forward.

  • Jody Williams, pictured in front of the ancient mountains she loves.