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David Williams, Monika and Frank Crump

The Dave Williams Story: Beyond the Vision

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David Williams, Monika and Frank Crump
Photo: David Williams, Monika and Frank Crump

David Williams and Frank Crump met while both were living in Singapore. Both recognized how few kids, in the USA, are aware of what the world has to offer; especially if they do not receive supportive guidance and direction towards the pathways that lead to successful outcomes. It is this unified opinion which fortified their lifelong friendship. Most recently, Dave donated financially to UPI’s, next phase of evolution, their Strategic Planning Session for UPI’s Arizona Board of Directors.

When they met, Dave Williams was the Asia Pacific Zone Manager for a division of the global insurance company Chubb and Frank Crump owned a telecoms company outsourcing telecommunications engineers to multinational companies, responsible for rolling out mobile networks throughout the world.

A Harvard graduate, David’s conversation with Frank centered around how a quality education opened one up to a world of possibilities and that it was a blessing to be an African American businessman operating in the Asian markets. When David returned to his hometown of Boston, in the late nineties, he was an early supporter of the UPI program and later completed the UPI Life Skills Solutions™ train-the-trainer sessions hosted at Hillhouse High school in New Haven, CT.

Lasting Impressions

Dave was introduced to Frank upon joining a Softball team in Singapore and quickly came to learn that Frank was better known as the ‘General’, a nickname Frank earned from the teammates due to his leadership qualities. “It said a lot about Frank, as a man, to be named the General. It showed he was a leader and was recognized as the leader by those around him,” says Dave during our interview.

Frank smiles broadly, reminiscing about when the two of them shared a round of golf in Arizona. Frank tells us about Dave’s tenacity, determination, his will to win and how this flamed Dave’s motivation throughout their round. “He got a little upset when he learned he had the losing score,” Frank says.

It made me happy to experience his competitiveness and strong desire to win. I’m sure that winning attitude carries over into his professional business life as well.

~ Frank Crump

Leadership is Influence

Dave attended Frank’s induction into the Hillhouse High School Hall of Fame – Frank played for the nationally ranked basketball team. “I never believed him when he told me about his high-school basketball days. I thought it was all just shop talk,” Dave tells us, “I had to go find out for myself, if it was true or not. And there he was, Frank, in the Hall of Fame, the captain of the accomplished basketball team.” The other team players were there, most of them in their 50’s, and they had all done well in life. “It threw me that he had actually accomplished that goal,” says Dave. Each of the Hall of Famer’s had followed good paths learned leadership lessons early on and became successful individuals.

That kind of leadership was further made evident at Frank’s 50th birthday party held in Bali, Indonesia. Dave shares that Kool from Kool and the Gang and his wife attended the week-long event when a local band of musicians, one evening while playing at the party, suddenly sounded the familiar intro to the song “Celebration” the very song that Kool co-composed. Kool was given a gentle nudge by Dave and others to get up and play along with the band. Handing Kool the local band member’s low-quality base guitar, Kool went up to play the riff. “The Indonesian band began to tell him how to play it… his own song. Kool was very cool about it, though,” Dave laughs.  Kool played the base until the band said, “that’s enough”. Dave tells us that in his experience, this kind of leadership quality reflects on a person’s true power to lead. Frank’s ability to pull 100+ friends together, from around the world, inclusive of having Kool fly in from the United States to come and celebrate his birthday, speaks volumes about Frank’s character and influence.

People post footnotes on their resumes about their character and achievements etcetera. But lifetime leadership, qualities formed, what people do when they are younger stays with them for life. The people you surround yourself with, those other leaders and achievers are symbolic of this.  

~ Dave Williams

The Company You Keep

Dave is in the insurance business with a focus on Professional Liability. In 2002, he was a recipient of the Harlem Branch YMCA Black Achievers in Industry award.  He was the first and only African American President of the Professional Liability Underwriting Society and helped the organization develop and implement a Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. Adding to his achievements, Dave taught the course titled “Understanding the Wall Street Journal” to youth, enrolled in the INROADS financial literacy program. In more recent years, Dave finished up a 6-year stint on the Board of the Buckingham Browne Nichols School, an independent nationally recognized top-level private school servicing Massachusetts, and he Chaired the Governance Committee for the past 5-years.

Frank inspired me to make sure I had something in my profile that is “giving back” because of the great blessings I’ve had in my life.

~ Dave Williams

“Dave is a true showman. He knows how to get people excited and engaged,” Frank say’s recalling a time when Dave brought a crowd of thousands to their feet. Dave and Frank’s Singapore softball team had traveled to Manila, Philippines, to play in an international softball tournament. Playing at the national Rizal Memorial Stadium, school students were bused in by the thousands to watch the games. At this tournament, Imelda Marcos, the wife of the then Philippines President, Ferdinand Marcos threw out the first ball. During their nail-biting game, Dave went onto the field and rallied the crowd of thousands to chant their team’s name, “River Rats”, “River Rats”. The chants got louder and louder until the entire stadium of school students were yelling the team name “River Rats”. “Rizal Stadium is like Yankee stadium, so you can imagine the scene,” explains Frank excitedly. “Dave starts dancing like Michael Jackson. He jumps up in the air legs fully extended out-ward and touches his toes. It was AMAZING, and the crowd went wild!”

Unfortunately, I can’t remember if we won that game or not but I can picture the scene as if it were yesterday.

~ Frank Crump

Value of a Moment

Dave was one of the very first to bear witness to the roll-out and results of the original version of the UPI Life Skills Solutions™ program, as it garnered the attention of the public and began implementation in schools. Early resources from the New Haven, Connecticut, Superintendent of Schools alongside nationally recognized supporters namely Dr. James Comer, Yale University and Fred Stickney, Founder of the YMCA Latch Key Kid’s program, two precursors of school and civic engagement, set the tone.

During that first train-the-trainer event, Dave sat alongside educators and parents from New Haven high schools and watched, as a focus group of students entered the room. He remembers the student’s reactions and responses regarding the UPI training, “right there, in those children we could see the value of UPI’s program,” Dave says. “In that moment, I committed to being a supporter of Frank’s journey with UPI.”

Everywhere Frank goes he’s able to build strong relationships and create friends interested in appreciating his life.

~ Dave Williams

Great Leaders are Great Learners

Dave served on the board of an insurance industry group of professional liability underwriters for a number of years. He was President of the Foundation arm of that group and as a result became involved in philanthropy for other initiatives. This group was assigned the responsibility of redefining the strategic mission. This required them to work with professionals to refine that mission inclusive of creating a Diversity and Inclusion Strategy.

A lot of importance was given to ‘Generative Thinking in the Boardroom’. While serving on BB&N board Dave had the privilege of a working session with Professor Cathy Trower. The PLUS board used the generative approach to optimize their strategic mission. This education led to Dave developing a mindset which focuses on the engagement within organizations toward their strategic, vision and mission developments.

In 2013, Dave led the 7,000 members Professional Liability Underwriting Society and gained a deep appreciation for the leadership requirements of 501c3 Boards. He emphasized the power of “strategic planning” as part of rebuilding an organization’s commitment to their vision and mission statements.

I think that every 501(c)3 faces the challenge of Generative Thinking as it relates to where you’re headed. Where you’ve been and your relative level of funding to achieve what you’re trying to achieve depends significantly on it.

~ Dave Williams

Momentum Demands Movement

A longtime advisor to UPI, Dave has remained impressed with the incredible value of the program(s) and the growth and development of UPI over the years. He is determined to help keep that momentum going strong. “I think there’s a lot of valuable elements in the UPI Life Skills Solutions™ program,” says Dave, “It goes beyond simply becoming skilled in life, for life. It is about recognizing why you are in school, why you want to have good grades and achievements and where knowing those things can lead you in your future.”

We at UPI are honored and humbled to have an ally in Mr. Dave Williams. Recently, in accordance with his faith and belief in Frank and UPI, he awarded UPI with a very generous financial contribution, which supported UPI’s (April-May) Strategic Planning sessions led by Mr. Jim Rude. Dave has expressed to us that he looks forward to hearing the many stories of the young men and women, youth, and communities who will be impacted by UPI’s growing success.

I truly believe that all things happen for a reason. It’s imperative that one utilizes their God given skills and talents, whatever they may be, for the betterment of self and others. There is no free lunch in this world and although opportunity may knock at your door, you have to open the door and be committed to taking advantage of the opportunity. Education, street smarts and common sense are all valuable keys capable of opening doors. How one develops those keys, in combination with their ability to communicate with others, will determine their ultimate worth to communities and the world.

~ Frank Crump