Les Williams

Les WIlliams
  • Class of: Engr ’00
  • Current city: Arlington, VA
  • Current job: Co-founder of Risk Cooperative
  • Bodo’s Order OR Favorite Charlottesville Spot:  I eat A LOT … so at Bodo’s I grab two bacon and egg sandwiches on a Cinnamon Raisin Bagel. My wife and I LOVE Tavola and I usually get two orders of their Spaghetti Bolognese. We also LOVE Marie Bette’s and I order bacon, eggs, toast, three pancakes, and a side of fruit. My friend from high school owns Corner Juice, and my go-to is the Carrot Juice and any of the sandwiches. Hey, I burn a lot of energy with all of my volunteering so I need the calories!

Tell us your UVA story. What did you do during your time on Grounds? What were your favorite memories?

I was an “un-engineer” engineer! Although I spent many late nights in Thornton Hall with my fellow mechanical engineers, I made sure to spread my wings and experience other activities on Grounds. I was involved in theater productions with Spectrum Theater, I co-founded B.U.C.K.S. (Brothers United Celebrating Knowledge and Success), which is a community service group that worked closely with Madison House to expand UVA’s relationship with the Black Charlottesville Community, and I was a Peer Advisor to younger engineering students during my second, third, and fourth years. My favorite memory was participating in a fashion show at the Charlottesville Ice Rink during my fourth year … I had a snake wrapped around my neck as I opened the show on the catwalk three feet above the ice. I was NOT your typical engineer.

Tell us what you’re up to today!

I am co-founder of a risk management firm called Risk Cooperative. Risk Cooperative is a specialized strategy, risk management, and insurance brokerage firm based in DC. We help firms domestically and globally by placing all lines of insurance for them, with a specialty on emerging risks such as cyber insurance, political risk insurance, and kidnap and ransom insurance. I serve on the Cybersecurity Strategic Council of the Private Directors Association, a national network where executives and professionals interested in private board service can find and meet those private companies interested in securing board members.

I also stay very involved with UVA, of course! I serve as a Trustee with the Virginia Engineering Foundation, and I also serve on the Investment Committee of the UVA Alumni Association Board of Managers. Not only do I help the Alumni Association by calling admitted students encouraging them to join the UVA Family every spring, but I also am a frequent guest at the School of Engineering speaking with students and helping them find internships and jobs. To me, UVA stand for U Volunteer … Always. I attend at least one football game and basketball game every year, so I am down in Charlottesville about seven times a year. My wife also graduated UVA with me, and we are thinking we should just buy a timeshare on Preston Avenue since we visit so much.

What makes you say Wahoowa?

1) Winning a national championship in ANY sport. 2) Reading about a UVA graduate or student who is doing something to help others. It gives me an overwhelming sense of pride that I attended a school that not only values academics and athletics, but also humanity.

What’s the biggest way in which you hope alumni can impact UVA?

Do more than just donate money to our amazing school—donate your time. Contact the Alumni Association and ask how you can help; for example, arrange a time for students or recent graduates to call you and speak with you regarding career opportunities at your company or in your industry. They need us now more than ever as the job market remains grim due to the coronavirus.