Mr. Fix It describes Spirit Award winner

Bert Nash IT manager Paul Williams quietly goes about his business, but his greatest satisfaction is helping others.

Bert Nash IT manager Paul Williams quietly goes about his business, but his greatest satisfaction is helping others. by Jeff Burkhead

Paul Williams likes being behind the scenes. But not nearly as much as he likes helping people.

Williams, the Bert Nash Mental Health Center IT manager, is the epitome of a problem-solver. And he’s an all-around good guy besides.

Described in a nomination letter as “Someone who is liked and respected by everyone at Bert Nash,” Williams was the recipient of the 2016 Sandra Shaw Spirit Award, named for the longtime Bert Nash CEO, who died in 2010. The award is the highest honor a Bert Nash employee can receive.

“It was really an honor to receive the Spirit Award,” Williams said. “It felt good to accept the award and to know that people appreciate what you do.”

And Williams does a lot.

The nomination letter referred to Williams as a “diplomat who consistently goes above and beyond to make sure deadlines and goals for the Center are met and has a great sense of humor even under the most stressful situations.”

Which is why, during the Spirit Award presentation, Ganis Himes, last year’s recipient, lauded Williams for his “Captain America traits: Strong moral values, stands for something, shuns the limelight, protects his team and adapts to strengths and weaknesses.”

Williams’ team includes Brad Boydston, Mike Godinez and Clint Bridges. Beth Ankerholz is the IT director. Between them, they have worked at the Center for a combined 87 years. Bridges is the newbie with 14 years of service.

“The nice thing is we’ve all bonded as friends,” Williams said. “But we also take our jobs very seriously and when things need to get done we do it and we do it well. There’s the fun side, but we bounce ideas off each other and look out for each other.”

Bert Nash IT director Ankerholz, who hired Williams, is proud of how he has grown and matured in his role.

“I remember when I interviewed Paul for our first help desk position. He was this quiet, reserved guy who had just graduated and was ready to learn. But what was apparent to me was his interest in responding to our users as quickly and efficiently as possible. His approach from the beginning of his tenure was about making sure he met the needs of his internal customers. When the opportunity presented itself for him to move into the IT manager position, he continued his excellent customer service and coupled that with his growing knowledge of technology. He is also a good listener. He hears what challenges the staff is facing and looks for ways to mitigate issues they may be facing while considering the Center’s budget. I’ve heard him say to vendors a thousand times ‘I need X and we’re a nonprofit and have no money.’ This quiet, unassuming individual can negotiate with the best of them. It has been a privilege to watch him grow in the position, and the Center and its staff are the beneficiaries.”

Williams’ wife, Liew, who is a pharmacist for Dillons Food Store, was on hand for the surprise presentation of the Spirit Award. They have a son, Josh, who will be a seventh-grader. Williams also has a son, Tyler, 25.

“Liew knew about the award for two weeks, but she was able to keep it a surprise,” Williams said. “I was glad she was able to be there for the presentation. That meant a lot.”

Williams has seen a lot of technological advances during his time with the Bert Nash IT department.

“There have been so many technological changes,” Williams said. “We went from about 20 computers when I started to close to 200 devices now that we track. Over at the old building (housed in a wing at Lawrence Memorial Hospital that has long since been demolished) we had one server to when we moved into this building in 1999 we had three servers and now we run probably 12.”

One of Williams’ jobs is to see to it that the Center keeps pace with ever-changing technology advances.

“We want to be in on new technology, but not the cutting edge. We call it the bleeding edge,” he said. “We let somebody else work out the kinks and we’ll come in after they have things figured out.”

Williams credits his boss, Bert Nash IT director Ankerholz, and the Center’s other Executive Team members for supporting the IT Department.

“We have a really good administration that believes in technology, and that really helps us do our jobs,” Williams said.

From constant upgrades to Bert Nash’s computer and phone systems to ensuring those systems are safe and secure to spending most of this past Thanksgiving at the Center to resolve service provider issues with the phone system, Williams “is always there to save the day,” Himes said in her Spirit Award presentation.

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