Zia MacWilliams

2015 Champions   |   San Jose

Originally from rural West Virginia, Zia obtained a B.A in Political Science and a B.S. in Psychology from Louisiana State University with a concentration in International Law & Human Rights from Linnaeus University, Sweden. In 2011, she obtained a M.A. in International Policy Studies & Development from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, where she focused on forced migration and human rights studies. After graduation, Zia worked with the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees along the Thailand-Myanmar border with a protracted refugee population from Myanmar, assisting sexual and gender-based violence survivors.

More recently, as a Project Manager of Downtown Streets Team, a Silicon Valley based nonprofit that ends homelessness through a Work-First Model, Zia leads a team of approximately 45 homeless and low-income men and women in Palo Alto, California. Moreover, she manages the Downtown Food Closet in Palo Alto, a free pantry for the low-income population that serves over 1200 meals per month with over 75 community volunteers. In her free time, Zia interns at the Cheese School in San Francisco, where she enjoys learning more about cheese making and women operated small businesses.

Project Summary: Supporting economic opportunity for all through the Mobile Cafe, which helps people transition out of homelessness into full-time employment.

The Mobile Cafe

The Mobile Cafe provides an employment stepping-stone for individuals transitioning out of homelessness into full-time employment. The cart will be environmentally friendly and committed to paying employees a living wage, while providing the necessary training, experience, and personal development required to transition into an economically stable life. The primary objectives of the mobile cafe are job creation, public square revitalization, and the empowerment of a marginalized sector of our community, the homeless.