Barbara Williams Perry is a veteran of 35 years in television news. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Montana School of Journalism, she began her career at KSTP-TV in Minneapolis/St. Paul, where she started on the assignment desk and eventually became a reporter. In October of 1976, she joined WMAQ-TV in Chicago, the NBC owned-and-operated station. As part of the “NewsCenter 5” team, she worked as a general assignment reporter, covering stories ranging from the death of Mayor Richard J. Daley to the first running of the Chicago Marathon. During that time, she broke the story that CDC researchers had found the cause of Legionnaire’s Disease, a bacterial infection that broke out during a convention of the American Legion.
In 1979, Williams joined WTTW-TV, Chicago’s PBS station. She worked on the news and public affairs team, producing programs on topics of local and national importance. She also produced an hour-long program profiling Sandra Day O’Conner, the first woman to serve as Justice on the United States Supreme Court. She went on to produce the weekly program, “Chicago Week in Review,” and worked as a producer/correspondent on “Chicago Tonight.”
In 1993, Williams began her free-lance work with Towers Productions, She wrote and produced programs for “American Justice,” working with Bill Kurtis on the series. She was praised for her programs on the juvenile justice system and her story of the murder of Scarsdale Diet doctor Herman Tarnower. Particularly, she earned accolades for her interview with Jean Harris, who was found guilty of the murder and served her sentence in the New York State prison system.
Williams served as President of the Chicago/Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, from 2005 to 2010. During her time in that position, she has established new scholarships and started a Silver Circle Awards ceremony in Milwaukee, WI, honoring television professionals who have worked in the industry for more than 25 years. As a Governor of the Chapter, she chaired the Silver Circle Production Committee, and has written several local Emmy productions. She has been a Trustee on NATAS’ national board since 2006, and has served on the Executive Committee representing the Presidents’ Council of NATAS. Williams also served a term as Second Vice-Chair of NATAS’ national board, and two terms as its First Vice-Chair. She has also spent time as a consultant to and producing videos for not-for-profit groups and independent schools.
Williams is a Trustee Emeritus of St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago. She served on the boards of Chicago’s Cristo Rey High School as well as the Convent of the Visitation School in St. Paul, MN, her alma mater. She and her husband, Marty Perry, have three children. She lives in Chicago.