News | Jan. 29, 2020

Courage creating a culture of change

By Staff National Reconnaissance Office

Former FBI agent Michael Quentin Williams spoke to the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) workforce at NRO headquarters on Jan. 16 in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Williams is an attorney, author, prolific international speaker, former FBI agent, and former federal prosecutor.  His words caused a hush to sweep over the NRO audience as he captured their attention with one simple sentence.

“Three words changed my life,” Williams said.  “Three simple words—no thank you.”

These three words were spoken by his mother, an individual who had a colorful life wrought with hardships and struggles.  She had just been offered $25,000 in exchange for handing over her son, Michael Williams, to a stranger. 

Williams spoke about how he owed everything to his mother.

“My mother was the only reason I was able to do anything.  She was my advocate,” said Williams.  “She performed the most selfless acts for me and she embodied such courage, beauty, and selflessness.”

Shifting his focus to the present and the future, Williams emphasized the societal climate of today where individuals must express courage because they have to do what is right—when they know what is right. 

As he ended his presentation, Williams left the audience with several questions.

“Martin Luther King Jr. did what he did knowing full well how it might end, and he did it for everyone else, not for himself.  How can we do this?  How can we express to others that it is about them?  How do we show others that we care?”

Williams challenged the NRO workforce to express every day throughout the year how much they care about others and to put others’ needs first.

“We must listen beautifully,” said Williams.  “We must create a culture through courage.”