Innovating For Impact

Justin Willams


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Justin's Bio

Justin Williams has been a leader of regional efforts to develop a vibrant innovation ecosystem in Tucson through programs that support innovation, entrepreneurship, and community development.

In response to the “Age of Accelerations”, a global wave of changes and social disruptions triggered by rapid technology innovations, Justin founded Next Foundation in 2018 and the National Institute for Civic Innovation (NICI) in 2020, with a mission is to empower communities across the country to thrive in our rapidly changing world by fostering a national movement of civic renewal through deliberation, innovation, and action. 

Prior to launching Next Foundation and NCCI, Justin’s work included (co)founding many high impact programs and organizations including:

• Arizona Technology Council, Tucson Office (2005)
• TEDxTucson (2010)
• Startup Tucson (2012)
• CoLab Workspace (2013)
• Thryve Venture Development (2014)
• InnovateUA (2014)
• TENWEST Festival (2015)
• Founder Institute Tucson (2018)

In 2022, Justin and a team of experienced startup ecosystem leaders are launching Capital Gravity Arizona, a regional capital accelerator program to activate a pipeline of diverse and experienced startup investors passionate about supporting Arizona startups.

While working on his Ph.D. in Management Information Systems, Justin developed and taught two graduate-level entrepreneurship courses at the University of Arizona in both the Eller College of Management and the College of Engineering.  Early in his career, Justin worked for over 10 years with high-tech firms including Amazon, Intuit, Electronic Data Systems, Ventana Medical Systems, Ridgetop Group, and Ardext Technologies. 

Justin has a B.S. in Systems Engineering, an M.B.A. in Marketing and Finance, and is an alumnus of the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship. In 2011, Justin was named as one of Tucson’s “40-Under-40” by the Arizona Daily Star.  Justin lives in Tucson where he’s raising his 15-year old son J.J.