Distinguished Alumni

2020 - Roger Williams

Roger Williams is a consultant/mediator after serving 33 years as a University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension professor and two years as a vocational agriculture instructor at Darlington (Wis.) High School. He grew up on a Waukesha County dairy farm and for the past 40 years has provided leadership initiatives to assist farm families under stress including self-help programs, videos, and guidebooks to foster stress management, improve communication and plan for the future.


He has worked with others to form a federally-funded Sowing the Seeds of Hope initiative for dealing with farm stress in a seven-state area of the Midwest and has taught hundreds of programs on farm stress, farm family communication and intergenerational farm transfers in Wisconsin and beyond. 


Williams is also the founder of the Harvest of Hope Fund which provides financial assistance and hope to Wisconsin farm families in distress. Since it was founded in January 1986, the fund has granted more than 1,660 gifts totaling more than $1,082,000 to Wisconsin farm families.


He is a volunteer mediator with the Wisconsin Farm Center (Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection) mediating farm family conflicts across the state, and he also serves on the advisory board for AgrAbility of Wisconsin and on the governing board of the Food, Faith and Farming Network.


In addition, Williams has worked with the Dane County Alliance for the Mentally Ill to organize a nation-wide conference that resulted in the formation of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to support families of persons with persistent mental illnesses and advocate for the needs of persons with serious mental illnesses. NAMI now has over 1,500 state and local chapters with more than 500,000 members across the U.S. 


He has coordinated and taught educational sessions related to prevention and wellness and was one of the founding members of the Wisconsin Prevention Network (WPN). He served on the governing board of  WPN, chaired the WPN Public Policy Committee and worked with others to organize the Annual Wisconsin Prevention Conference for several years. He has also made significant contributions in teaching and programming related to men’s issues: organizing a major conference “King, Warrior, Magician, Lover” and organizing an innovative boys to men initiative that included a Wingspread Conference and a cultural exchange program for African American boys from inner city Milwaukee and Native American boys from the Red Cliff Band in northern Wisconsin.


Williams received a bachelor’s degree in vocational agriculture from Wisconsin State College-River Falls and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in adult and continuing education from UW-Madison. In April 2003, he was honored with the Outreach Award for Distinguished Teaching from UW-Madison.



Roger Williams DA