Ken Williamson is known in Hamilton for his dedication to our community. During the last 30 years, Ken and his wife Julie have given their time and expertise to numerous organisations in the city. Ken joined the University of Waikato Foundation in 2007.
"The financial wealth that the university brings to the city and region is around a billion dollars year, making it critically vital to the city and region's financial wellbeing," says Ken. "And arguably even more importantly, there's the intellectual wealth that is created which benefits us all. Yet many people fail to embrace or even recognise this wonderful institution. I'm excited about our new Vice Chancellor's passion and commitment to make our University even better. "I know it takes time to establish strong relationships, but we need to make the University of Waikato 'our' university, appreciate what it brings to the city and region and encourage and make people more comfortable about coming to events on campus."
Ken says that many people presently come to Balloons over Waikato and concerts in the Academy of Performing Arts, but we need them to further embrace the University's fantastic campus and the opportunities it offers. "We need to make sure people feel welcome." He thinks there are lots of opportunities for partnerships with local organisations to share resources and facilities and that's something he promotes.
Ken's background is in insurance. He works for insurance brokers Crombie Lockwood after he and his partners sold their Hamilton based commercial insurance brokerage Law Mooney Williamson (LMW) to them. LMW had grown to become of NZ's largest and most respected brokerages.
When he and Julie thought that they couldn't have children, they decided to adopt some community causes. "And just like taking on a child, you can't unadopt!" However, to their surprise Julie and Ken had a daughter, Kate. "Kate has blessed and enriched our lives beyond any words. She is a kind, caring young woman and we are incredibly proud of her." After attending Southwell School and Waikato Diocesan School, Kate is now a Graduate of the University of Waikato - something that makes Ken incredibly proud.
Ken is a widely experienced governor/chair in both the business and 'not-for-profit' sectors. His current governance roles include, both the Priory Trust Board of the Order of St John and the Order of St John Central Regional Trust Board (Deputy Chair); Waikato Diocesan School Proprietors Board; the McKenzie Centre Trust (Chair); the Institute of Directors in NZ Waikato Branch; the Holdfast Group; Cullen Engineering; and Hostess Joinery. He is also a director of a major private property trust with commercial property valued at over $200m.
In 2013 Ken was appointed as the inaugural Chair of the Momentum Foundation, a major Community Trust with the aim of creating a $300m 'legacy fund' for the Waikato. Ken also receives great delight through his mentoring of Year 12 & 13 students in the Young Enterprise Scheme. He also regularly serves on board selection panels, particularly in the Not-for-Profit sector. He was appointed to the Hamilton City Councils 'Older Persons Advisory Group' in 2014. Recently, the Minister of Education appointed him to the establishment Board of the new SecondarySchool to be built in Rototuna Hamilton. This will become one of NZ's largest schools, with an eventual roll of around 2,600 pupils.
Ken served as the Chair of the Scottwood Trust before it instigated a merger with the Perry Foundation, which subsequently merged with the Lion Foundation. In his 20-year tenure with these Trusts he has been involved in granting over $350m to communities throughout NZ. He was involved with Te Rau Aroha Papakainga Trust (Te Whakaruruhau Maori Women's Refuge) as Chair 19yrs; Hamilton Girls' High School as Deputy Chair; Rezlab Manufacturing; the Waikato-Bays Tennis Association; FreeFM89 Community Radio; 'Kudos' Scientific Awards Trust; was founding trustee of Multiple Sclerosis Waikato Trust (5yrs); and the 'Magic' Netball franchise for 10 years, culminating in the Team winning the ANZ Trans-Tasman Championship.
Ken has received a number of awards and appointments including, an Officer of the Order of St John; a Paul Harris Rotary Fellowship; a Chief of Air Staff (RNZAF) Commendation; Life Membership of St Peters Tennis Club; and he was awarded a Queens Service Medal (QSM) in recognition of his services to the community. He is a Fellow of the Insurance Brokers Association of NZ; and is both a Chartered Director and a Fellow of the Institute of Directors in NZ. Ken is also a Justice of the Peace and a member of the Hamilton Central Rotary Club.
His service to the community is aptly described by the words of Winston Churchill, "We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give".
To find out more regarding fundraising activities at the University of Waikato, visit the Foundation website here.