Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
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Jamie Williams ’85, ’89MES: A fossil-fuel scion fights for the wilderness.

Scion of a multibillion-dollar fossil fuel business, Jamie Williams ’85, ’89MES, now finds himself on the receiving end of an oil-company lawsuit.

Williams, a longtime employee of the Nature Conservancy, this week was named president of another environmental organization, the Wilderness Society. The announcement came just days after Shell Oil filed a preemptive suit against Wilderness and other conservation outfits, seeking to block them from blocking Shell from drilling in the Chukchi Sea, off Alaska.

As a Yale undergrad, Williams cofounded FOOT, the backpacking program for incoming freshmen. He went on to earn a master’s in environmental science from the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies before joining the Nature Conservancy, where he led its “effort to protect large landscapes, primarily in the western United States,” and “spearheaded critical efforts to secure conservation funding in Congress,” the Wilderness Society says.

Williams’s father, Joe Williams ’56, is a retired CEO of the family oil-and-gas business, the Williams Companies, and a former member of the Yale Corporation. He is also a former chairman of the Nature Conservancy—creating a natural platform for Jamie to drill into a different line of work.

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