- Distinguished International Service Award (2018)
- Bloomington, Indiana
- Presenter: Shawn Reynolds
Lee Williams has worked professionally as a venue booking agent, promoter, and non-profit arts leader since 1982, playing a defining role in the music culture and community identity of Bloomington. A co-founder of the Lotus World Music & Arts Festival (est. 1994) and founder of the non-profit Lotus Education and Arts Foundation (est. 1995), Williams served as Executive Director of Lotus from 1995 to 2013 and as Artistic Director from 2014 through his retirement in 2017. Williams also spearheaded the creation of the Midwest Consortium, a professional network for world-music presenters. Under his leadership, the Festival has thrived over 20 seasons, presenting nearly 800 world-class artists from over 120 countries and becoming a celebrated fixture of the southern Midwest. Williams' pioneering global vision and Lotus legacy have inspired hundreds of thousands of people since the organization's inception, including bringing the world to over 140,000 K-12 students through Lotus educational outreach.
Over the 20-year history of the festival, Lee Williams has worked closely with multiple academic and student groups across the IU Bloomington campus to arrange workshops, concerts, and educational outreach events that engage the university's faculty, students, and the general public. Williams has also collaborated closely with IU and IU's area studies centers on Lotus Blossoms for K-12 educational outreach.