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Robina Franklin Williams Internship Fund

Initially established in 1990 with gifts from friends and family of Ambassador Franklin H. Williams, this fund was significantly expanded in 2017 by an endowment gift from the Robina Foundation. The fund is designed to promote diversity in the field of foreign policy and supports internships for graduate and undergraduate students, as well as recent graduates, who have a serious interest in international relations.

Franklin H. Williams (1917–90)

Franklin H. Williams
Franklin H. Williams (CFR)

Franklin H. Williams was a lawyer, educator, and diplomat who spent his remarkable career fighting for civil rights and combating racial injustice to effect change in American society. He began his career as a lawyer with fourteen years at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, initially serving as assistant special counsel to Thurgood Marshall and later as West Coast regional director. During this time, he worked on cases related to school desegregation, restrictive real estate covenants, transportation, and other civil rights issues, appearing before the U.S. Supreme Court several times.

In 1959, Williams was appointed an assistant attorney general in California, and two years later he joined Sargent Shriver, first head of the Peace Corps, in traveling to nine countries to prepare for the Corps’ first dispatch of volunteers. In 1961, he became the first African American to be named United States representative to the Economic and Social Council and was also appointed the American ambassador to Ghana, where he was credited for improving relations between the two countries. Following this position, Williams served as the head of a new Urban Center at Columbia University in 1968 and in 1970 he was named president of the Phelps-Stokes Fund. Throughout his career, Williams helped establish several professional and cultural groups, including the Association of Black American Ambassadors, the Boys Choir of Harlem, and the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

He was an active member of the Council on Foreign Relations from 1969 until his death in 1990. While a member, he served on the Board of Directors from 1975 to 1983, where he made special efforts to encourage the nomination of African Americans to membership.

Robina Foundation

The Robina Foundation is a Minnesota-based foundation that seeks to positively influence critical social issues by encouraging innovation and financially supporting transformative projects through its partner organizations. The foundation was founded in 2004 by James H. Binger, distinguished businessman and philanthropist and longtime CFR member.