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12 Rounds with Gia Gallimore

Gia Gallimore. Photo supplied.

In our new weekly feature 12 Rounds, leaders will answer 12 questions — some light, some heavy — from our Publisher and CEO Henry Sanders to help the community understand them, what they do, and why. Today: Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association Director of Alumni Engagement Gia Gallimore.

Gia is the director of diverse alumni engagement at Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association. One of her core goals is to connect alumni of color with the alumni association at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. To do so, Gallimore had a hand in creating a strategic plan for diverse engagement, including strengthening the alumni of color network, enhancing marketing and engagement programs and cultivating student-to-alumni connections. She is also the founder of and driving force behind Badger Vibes, a monthly newsletter highlighting faculty, students and alumni of color in order to celebrate the diverse UW experience, produced in partnership between the WFAA and Madison365. She was named one of the most influential Black leaders in Wisconsin in 2019.

What advice would you give someone who is a person of color not from Wisconsin who is thinking about moving to Madison? Understand your purpose. If your purpose is to advance professionally or to raise a family, Madison can offer some good opportunities. Madison can also present varying challenges for those who desire safe and responsible nightlife options due to the lack of BIPOC centered establishments. An alternative to that challenge could be seeking out community through connecting with BIPOC centered organizations such as: YWCA, Urban Triage, the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, Freedom Inc., and others. 

Name 3 songs that accurately reflect how you’re feeling.

Won’t He Do It by Koryn Hawthorne
Best Life (feat. Chance the Rapper) by Cardi B
Still Standing (feat. Ludacris) by Monica

If you could go back in time to any point of life to tell yourself something, what age would you go back to and what would you tell yourself?

I would go back to the age of 18 when I was entering into college, three hours from home, and alone. I would say, “Gia the future will be filled with people who will be intimidated by your presence. That is not your burden to bear. You are a force to be reckoned with because you are a beautiful Black woman, smart, and resilient – don’t let nobody steal your joy.”

What did you learn about yourself in 2020? Homeschooling while working full-time is not my ideal situation.

At this point of your life do you feel you have found your purpose? If so, how did you figure out your purpose? Yes, I believe that I have found my purpose in life as a servant leader. Since my junior year in college, I knew that supporting others gave me a sense of fulfillment and joy. From serving as the Black Student Union President, to working in professional positions centered in diversity, equity and inclusion within higher education; all of these opportunities have allowed me to support and uplift folx within the BIPOC community. 

There is a lot of division around the issues of race in politics. What can we do to lessen those divisions? When race is introduced into any aspect within societal norms there will be division because racism was intricately interwoven into the foundation of this country. In order to begin to lessen the division we all must be willing to learn from one another. While also understanding that there isn’t a one size fits all answer or approach due to the complexities of race within this country.     

Name your top three Black-led movies of all time?

Harlem Nights
Coming to America
Black Panther 

In 2021 what does it mean to be a Black woman? Being a Black woman has always meant that we are admired, hated, loved, questioned, desired, feared, envied, stereotyped, etc. With this understanding, I believe it is imperative that Black women have a support system that centers our brilliance and nurtures our strength.   

Sweet tea or regular tea? Sweet tea  

How would you define success? Success is defined by what goals an individual sets and exceeds for themselves. I do not believe there is one definition of success that can be applied to everyone. 

What advice do you have for people to balance between a stressful work schedule and your health? Full transparency, I have struggled to find this balance for a long time because I often remember and live by my grandmother’s words “you must work twice as hard.” But, what I failed to understand is that never meant at the expense of my mental wellness and health. So, I am currently actively working to choose to unplug from work, which means not answering emails after work hours, taking time off, and having a consistent workout schedule. 

If you could speak another language, what would it be and why? Spanish. I believe that many of my personal and professional relationships would be strengthened if I could speak and understand the language.