Mary Alice Williams

Mary Alice Williams

Mary Alice Williams (born March 12, 1949) is a former co-anchor of NBC's Weekend Today and a former anchor and news division Vice President on CNN. Mary Alice Williams is a highly acclaimed broadcast journalist who brings to her Purchase College Journalism students a wealth of experience in the field. Her investigative work on such topics as foreign policy, ethics, technology and health have made her a respected authority and recognized voice for public information.

As one of the primary architects behind the design of the first worldwide television network, Williams oversaw the construction of CNN’s New York Bureau at the World Trade Center prior to the launch of Cable News network (CNN) in 1980 and served as New York Bureau Chief overseeing the planning and operation of the network’s second largest bureau with responsibility for seven hours of original programming per day. She was also one of the channel’s principal anchors. In 1982, Williams was appointed Vice president, becoming one of the highest ranking female executives in American television. She contributed to CNN’s award winning program lineup and played a major role in the network’s development and globalization. She was a critical member of CNN’s political anchor team co-hosting Inside Politics with Bernard Shaw.

In 1989, Williams moved to NBC News where she co-hosted Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow, a series of news magazine specials which were controversial since they included dramatic reenactments similar to the television show, Unsolved Mysteries; substitute anchored NBC Nightly News; and co-hosted Sunday Today. In 1990, Williams was one of a group of NBC News personnel who won a News and Documentary Emmy award in the category of Outstanding General Coverage of a Single Breaking News Story (Segments) for "Romanian Revolution Coverage" on NBC Nightly News and Weekend Nightly News. She shared this award with fellow anchors Tom Brokaw, Garrick Utley, John Cochran, Deborah Norville, and Katie Couric, and correspondents Dennis Murphy, George Lewis, Arthur Kent, and Tom Aspell.[1] During her tenure with NBC from 1989–1993, she also anchored Sunday Today, NBC News Special Reports, and NBC’s extended coverage of Desert Storm: War in the Gulf. Williams was a frequent anchor and correspondent for NBC Nightly News, Sunrise and The Today Show.

In the 1990s she represented the telecommunications company NYNEX in a series of commercials.

Williams has been the host of The Discovery Channel's "Daily Rounds" show and anchored two unprecedented 10-hour live television specials on childbirth for the Discovery Health Channel.

For WNET, In the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, she wrote and hosted a 3-hour PBS special Reaching Out to Heal. She also hosted a companion program to Bill Moyers' On Our Own Terms, about death and dying, which aired in Fall 2000 on PBS. As host of Hallmark’s weekly True North program on personal ethics, Williams earned the 2001 Gracie Allen Award and the 2001 Donald McGannon Ethics in Media Award. Her 90-minute PBS special on alcoholism and addiction, Within Reach, along with her continuing work as a PBS contributing correspondent and anchor on Religion & Ethics Newsweekly have established Williams as a recognized commentator and reporter on broad issues of ethics.

One of the highest rated documentaries ever broadcast on Lifetime Television, Picture What Women Do, about women, work and the American family was written and hosted by Williams. That program won the 1995 Exceptional Merit Media Award given by the National Women’s Political Caucus. Williams has continued to be a leading voice on the impact of public policy on the American family. In 1995 she appeared in 38 television spots for ABC affiliate stations about women’s health issues as part of Women’s Health Alliance and Hearst TV. Also for Hearst, she hosted a 40-part Our Show series about issues facing the baby-boom generation. Williams also hosted States of Faith, an NBC Television special on religion in America.

She has been a writer for the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric and reporter/anchor at WCBS Radio.

A published author, Williams adapted her weekly interview program for the Hallmark Channel about strategies for overcoming life’s toughest challenges into a book, Quiet Triumphs, published by Harper Collins. As part of the National Cable Television Associations (NCTA) week devoted to programming for and about children, Williams wrote and hosted a television special on children which aired in June 1998.

Williams has produced and hosted programming for next generation platforms including interactive television and web-based journalism. For, she developed an interactive show about business and finance in the entrepreneurial spirit and a business series called Amazing Women. For she developed a multimedia program in conjunction with Borders Books on reading, writing and literacy.

Prior to joining CNN in 1979, Williams was a reporter and anchor at WNBC-TV, the NBC flagship station in New York. As special assignment correspondent there, she covered the 1974 and 1978 United States Senate elections and the 1976 Democratic Convention and presidential election. She joined WNBC in 1974. Williams went to WNBC from WPIX in New York where, at age 23, she served as executive producer of news programming. Previously she was executive producer at KSTP-TV in Minneapolis, Minnesota where she started her career as a reporter at age 18.

Mary Alice Williams has made appearances on top-rated national television programs including Nightline, CNN’s Crossfire, The Tonight Show, The Tom Snyder Show and Murphy Brown.

She is an assistant professor of Journalism at SUNY Purchase[2]

From 1993 to 1999 Williams was a Trustee of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation. She has served as Broadcast Chair for Women in Communications and Mass Media Chair for the National Council of Women. She was also a member of the Board of Trustees at Fordham University from 1987 to 1993. She is currently a board member of the Women in Communications Foundation and an advisor to the New York Foundling.

Williams has received fourteen honorary doctorates for her outstanding contributions to journalism and television.

’84 St. John’s University ’91 Wittenberg University ’85 Kings College ’92 Seton Hall University ’85 Georgian Court College ’92 LaSalle University ’88 Marymount College ’95 The College of St. Elizabeth ’89 Glassboro State College ‘96 Mount St. Mary College ’90 Molloy College ’06 Dominican College ’90 Mercy College ’06 Iona College

Williams has received numerous awards including a National Emmy Award as anchor of NBC Nightly News during the Romanian Revolution in 1989. In 2004, she received the Gracie Allen award from American Women in Radio and Television for “Magdalene”, a PBS program on the mystery of Mary Magdalene. She won the 2000 Angel Award, and International Film festival Award and the Donald McGannon Ethics in Media Award. In 1999, the Society of Professional Journalists bestowed on her the Sigma Delta Chi Award for her Religion & Ethics Newsweekly feature on the ethics of saving profoundly premature infants. That same year, she was inducted into the National Jesuit Honor Society, Alpha Sigma Nu. In 1998, she won the Gracie Allen Award from American Women in Radio & Television for reporting on strides toward equality being made by Orthdox Jewish women. In 1996, her television short on a pediatric cardiology team’s rescue operation in Guatemala won the Freddie Award from the American Medical Association. In 1995, she received the Exceptional Merit Media Award from the National Women’s Political Caucus and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor for her humanitarian and professional contributions to America. In her role as commercial spokesperson for NYNEX she earned an EFFY Award from the American Marketing Association. In 1992, the American Bar Association bestowed on her its Silver Gavel Award. In 1990, she earned a National Commendation Award from American Women in Radio and Television. In 1988, she was an ACE Award nominee and Women in Cable presented her with its prestigious Woman of the Year Award. She received the 1986 Headliner Award from Women in Communications and its lifetime achievement award, the Matrix, in 1985. That same year, she was appointed Admiral in the Nebraska Navy. In 1983, Williams was an ACE nominee, won the New Cinema Artists Award and was named Young Woman Achiever by the YWCA. In 1980, she won the Young Achievers Award from the National Council of Women, an award she shared with the first woman astronaut Sally Ride. Williams was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She received a B.A. in English and Mass Communications from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. She is the mother of three daughters: Alice Ann born 1990 and twins Sara Mary and Laura Abigail born 1992.


  1. ^ O'Neil, Thomas (2000). The Emmys. New York: Berkley. pp. 431–32. ISBN 0-399-52611-0. 
  2. ^ Journalism Faculty - SUNY Purchase

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