Nov. 17, 2016 — ALCOSAN Executive Director Arletta Scott Williams was presented with the Greater Pittsburgh YWCA’s 2016 Racial Justice Award for business and professional services on Nov. 16.
Williams, who has been the head of the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority since 1998, is the first woman and first African American to lead the agency. She has worked tirelessly throughout her career to make sure that all ranks of employment are open to workers of all backgrounds at ALCOSAN. The staff of nearly 400 employees assembled under Williams’ direction is diverse at all levels, starting with the custodial staff where the newest workers often begin their careers and leading to the top.
African-American managers lead ALCOSAN’s industrial waste, laboratory, scholastic and municipal outreach departments. Women head the departments of safety, security, human resources, laboratory, procurement, municipal outreach and scholastic outreach and serve as public information officer and director of regional conveyance, one of five top positions in the organization.
In 2014, the American Society of Civil Engineers, Pittsburgh Section, recognized Williams with its Service to People award for her contributions to the community. A native Pittsburgher, Williams graduated first in her class from Westinghouse High School. She earned a B.S. in metallurgical engineering and material sciences from Carnegie Mellon University, and she worked for U.S. Steel prior to joining ALCOSAN in 1984 as a shift engineer.
Williams’ family has a long tradition of public service including her late aunt, civil rights pioneer Thelma Williams Lovette, for whom the Hill District YMCA is named.
Williams was among seven recipients honored last night during the 25th anniversary celebration of the YWCA’s Racial Justice Awards.
The other honorees are: For contributions to the arts, vanessa german, an artist and founder of Homewood’s ARThouse, a community arts institution; for community engagement, Jesabel I. Rivera-Guerra, president of the Pittsburgh Latin American Cultural Union; for education, Sean Cameron Means, an educator at Pittsburgh Westinghouse Academy 6-12; for faith, John M. Wallace Jr., professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work and Senior Pastor at Bible Center Church; for health, Rhonda Moore Johnson, MD, MPH, senior medical director of Health Equity & Quality Services for Highmark Inc.; and for public service and safety, Valerie McDonald Roberts, chief urban affairs officer in the office of Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto.
The annual Racial Justice Awards banquet is a signature event of YWCA Greater Pittsburgh’s Center for Race and Gender Equity, which seeks to promote a society in which all people receive equal treatment and have equal access in the workplace, public services, justice system, classroom and throughout the Greater Pittsburgh community. Over the past two decades, the Racial Justice Awards have recognized more than 100 community leaders who have made a substantial commitment to racial equity.