The problem: Billy Bob's Baked Beans Bistro on Broadway is having trouble maintaining customers due to light rail construction. The solution: Call Jeanetta -- she'll save the day. Although she's not likely to fly to the rescue trailing a red cape, she is likely to arrive with a red, white and blue bus pass. As the community relations specialist at Utah Transit Authority, one of Jeanetta Williams's many tasks is to ease troubled business minds, working with owners and operators to smooth out the bumpy business lapses caused by transportation construction, parking problems or road closures.
Beyond the many hours she works for UTA, Williams frequently speaks to schools, churches, community groups, government officials and anyone else who wants information on public transportation safety. "It's important to get out and talk to people," she says. "Let them know that just because they're in sticky situation now, it doesn't mean things won't look up in the future." And for many people dealing with crisis issues, homelessness or poverty, things truly are looking up, thanks to Williams. For almost 14 years now, Williams has been involved in the community, helping those in need any way she can. "Everybody needs to help somebody," she says.
When Williams isn't visiting homeless shelters, working with UTA or speaking as conventions, she is occupied with a number of other pursuits, among them serving as president of the Salt Lake chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Williams was first elected president in 1992, and in 1996, she was elected to the national board. Civil rights activism is a big part of her life, and she spends much of her spare time reading various books on the subject. One at the top of her list is No Free Right by Kweisi Mfume, national president and CEO of the NAACP.