April Kiyega plans to prioritize education, community support, affordable housing and community safety if elected to represent District 15 on the Dane County Board.
“Through this triple pandemic, we’ve seen that mental health has become heightened, specifically in the African American community which goes untreated,” Kigeya told Madison365.
Since 2020, researchers have examined the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Black and Hispanic households. The pandemic deepened disparities in health outcomes, economics and within the justice system.
Kigeya cited the stigma against mental health as one of the reasons Black communities do not receive care. Her campaign advocates for alternatives to incarceration and focuses on mental health services.
“People being incarcerated is not the answer. People being put in jail is not the answer. There needs to be other forums that are put in place as well as increasing mental health services for those who are incarcerated and those who are not,” she said.
Kigeya’s professional background also includes several years of public health experience. She currently works as an outreach specialist for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health, and the special projects manager with The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness.
“Black women are almost like an endangered species in the fact that we carry so much, whether it’s the weight of our families, our jobs and us carrying that weight has a health impact on us, unfortunately,” Kiyega said.
She also explained that the stress Black women face contributes to the high mortality rate among Black infants and mothers, Wisconsin ranks first in the nation for Black infant mortality. Through her job at the Black Women’s Wellness Foundation, Kiyega encourages women to live a healthy life and practice self-care, something she admittingly struggles with herself.
“I think it’s in our nature as Black women to want to care for others and realizing we have to take care of ourselves first. So, by me being on the board as an African American woman, I’m representing those people who have not been at the table, who may be at the table but have not been listened to so our experience can be brought forward,” she said.
Outside of work and campaigning, Kiyega is a mother of two college students and two students who attend the Madison school district. She serves as the vice president of The Flock, and co-founder of Mingo Ladies, and Featherstone Flamingo, all supporter groups for Madison’s professional soccer team, Forward Madison FC. Kiyega is also pursuing a master’s degree in business at UW-Madison.
“I think I’ve been able to build a really nice professional community here as well as get involved in a lot of volunteer and community activities,” she said.
Some of her recent endorsements include former Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle and his wife Jessica Doyle and the Wisconsin Working Families Party.