Director (Ex Officio)

Des Moines

Elected to a four-year term on the Board of Directors for the Federation of State Humanities Councils in November 2018, Paxton Williams holds an ex officio seat on the HI Board of Directors. Paxton is an attorney, former non-profit executive, and actor/playwright who believes in the power of stories to inspire, connect, and transform. In 2000, he wrote a one-man play on the life of George Washington Carver that he has performed more than 400 times in 24 U.S. States and England. From 2005-2009, Paxton was executive director of the George Washington Carver Birthplace Association. Recently, he served as associate producer for the Iowa Public Television documentary on Carver and was the content expert on the National Geographic Reader series book on Carver. 

Paxton holds degrees in political science, communication studies, and public policy from Iowa State University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Birmingham (England), where he studies under the auspices of a Rotary Ambassadorial Fellowship. He served on staff at The Drum, the UK's largest arts centre devoted to the promotion of African, Afro-Caribbean, and Asian arts and culture. In addition to his portrayal of Carver, Paxton has written a play on the life and words of poet Paul Laurence Dunbar that premiered in 2014 in Chicago at The Poetry Foundation. 

A proponent of the law and literature movement, Paxton wrote a chapter for American Guy: Masculinity in American Law and Literature (2014), edited by Martha Nussbaum and Saul Levmore and published by Oxford University Press. A graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, he lives in Des Moines, where he is an assistant attorney general in the Iowa Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General.