BLM Arizona Project Manager Alexia Williams makes a difference on public lands

Alexia Williams, who is wearing hiking gear, leans up against a large rock.
Alexia Williams hikes in Cleveland National Forest in California.

During Black History Month, we are highlighting outstanding employees who make a difference at the Bureau of Land Management Arizona and beyond. These employees, such as Alexia Williams, strengthen our mission to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

“For me, Black History Month means celebrating the accomplishments of the Black Americans that came before us, and those who continue to break barriers, persist, and excel despite the obstacles,” Williams said.

From Wyoming to California to Arizona, Williams makes a difference in her stewardship of America's public lands and resources.

The sun rises against the Imperial Sand Dunes in El Centro, California.

The early mornings – with 5 and 6 a.m. start times – bring a small crew closer together. The group is scouring survey plots for purple flowers, Peirson's milkvetch, which are popping up across the sand. Peirson's milkvetch, a California endangered plant species, is a flower that is endemic to southern Arizona and northern Mexico.

Among them, Alexia Williams.

At BLM California, Williams, who was an outdoor recreation planner, was driven by a love of public lands to help wherever she could, even in areas beyond her title.

Williams was an outdoor recreation planner for seven years at BLM California’s El Centro Field Office, from 2016 to 2023. “When I was thinking about my career and where it was going, I wanted to seek out more project management opportunities,” she said.

That led her back to Tucson, where she also earned her Bachelor of Science in ecology and evolutionary biology, along with a minor in conservation biology, from the University of Arizona in 2014.

“Back when I graduated college, I actually did not know what the BLM was. But an internship opportunity came up, and I didn't know what I was going to do,” she said. “It was an awesome opportunity for all of us who applied.” That summer after graduating she was an outdoor recreation planner at the BLM Kemmerer Field Office through the DHA-RAI program.

“After two years, I decided Wyoming was a little too cold, and my parents lived in Yuma, Arizona, after military service,” she said. El Centro is only about an hour away from Yuma.

“When I was in El Centro, I did a lot of visitor contacts out in the Imperial Sand Dunes and a couple of other open OHV areas, and I got the question a lot about how to get into the federal government. It came up more times than I can count,” she said. “I explained to everyone that I had gotten in through an internship, but there are a variety of ways to get into public service.”

“My advice for those interested in working in the federal government is to keep an open mind,” Williams said. At the BLM, there are a variety of ways to get into federal service, including through an internship like Williams did. “Many of us started as seasonal employees, interns, contractors, etc., and typically even volunteer experience counts towards the qualifications.”

After her own stints at BLM Wyoming and BLM California, Williams is now a project manager focused on Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act-funded projects in the Bureau of Land Management Arizona’s Gila District.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act funds about 50 projects in the Gila District on BLM-managed public lands. These projects would not be successful without the passion and hard work of project managers like Williams.

Alexia Williams holds a lizard in her hand.
Alexia Williams participates in flat tail horned lizard surveys in the Yuha Desert in California.

These projects that Williams works on include a lot of collaboration, she said. Often, there are multiple agencies, cities, and even states collaborating on different projects, she explained. For example, the Gila District cooperates with several local cities, counties, and friends’ groups in water management such as groundwater and surface water monitoring and modeling.

“In seeing that kind of collaboration, you would have no idea it is taking place if you're not involved in it,” she said. “That is an interesting aspect of this position.”

The Bureau of Land Management’s Gila District alone encompasses the management of over two million acres of desert, mountains, and grasslands in eastern and southeastern Arizona – and this management is supported by countless partnerships and other agencies. The BLM partners with many diverse organizations to carry out our multiple-use mission.

“Managing for multiple uses definitely poses a challenge, but hopefully the decisions now will lead to a more sustainable future,” she said.

“I love that public lands support a variety of activities such as free camping and hiking, fee sites with amenities such as boat launches, filming and photography, birdwatching, picnicking, orienteering, rocket-launching, etc., and the fact that there are landscapes that are protected such as Wilderness Areas,” she said. “Visitors come from all over the world to take advantage of these opportunities, and it would be awesome if more Americans were aware of these resources right here at home.”

Michelle Ailport, Public Affairs Specialist

Blog Topic: