Champaign County's new director of court services has done it all

Champaign County's new director of court services has done it all

URBANA — A longtime Champaign County employee with lots of different experience in the justice system has been named the county's new director of court services.

Mike Williams, 59, of Champaign has been selected to succeed Joe Gordon, who retires June 29 after 41 years with the probation department, the last 25 as director.

Williams' appointment was made public by Sixth Circuit Chief Judge Rick Broch and Champaign County Presiding Judge Tom Difanis.

"I am very humbled by the confidence shown in me by the judiciary — Judge Difanis and Chief Judge Broch. It's somewhat daunting to follow in Joe's footsteps. He's been here more than 40 years and spent his entire career with this department. I've jumped around a little more," Williams said.

Williams grew up in Rantoul, a member of an Air Force family, and graduated from Rantoul Township High School. After graduating from the University of Illinois, he spent three years working as a paralegal at a Chicago law firm. Williams also did some graduate work at the UI and Roosevelt University in Chicago.

In 1984, he began in the department he will supervise as an adult probation officer. He held several other positions in that office, including administrative officer, juvenile probation officer, intensive juvenile probation officer and supervisor of the adult services division.

In 1996, Williams took a break from probation and headed to another courthouse office. For three years, he was the office manager in the state's attorney's office under John Piland, handling staff and budget issues among other duties.

In 2001, Williams became director of the Children's Advocacy Center, a place where children are interviewed by professionals about allegations of physical, sexual and mental abuse in preparation for potential court cases. He held that job until 2013, when he returned to the probation office.

"It was a tremendous project," Williams said of his time at the CAC. "I really enjoyed my time there and remain on the statewide board for CAC."

As he prepares to command a department of 62 employees, Williams said he has no sweeping changes in mind but is "always trying to make our services better" while following the directives of the Illinois Supreme Court.

Williams was chosen from a field of 17 applicants. Difanis said many of them were internal candidates, but Williams stood out.

"Mike has been with the county many, many years. He's done extremely well and is well-respected by the judiciary, obviously by the chief (Broch). We anticipate the changeover will be seamless," Difanis said.

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