In its almost 70 years of existence, PBS Wisconsin has served as an incredibly accessible form of media often used to educate and expand people’s horizons. In the past year, another major addition has been made to further that mission through the creation of a new community-focused position, which was filled in June by Dulce Maria Danel.
“My position, which is associate director of community engagement and impact, is a brand-new position at PBS Wisconsin,” Danel told Madison365. “It’s been incredible to join a leadership team who is so incredibly supportive of the work that is community engagement. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this level of support and enthusiasm for the mission that we have. It’s been really fun building out a team and seeing our dreams slowly come true. Because when you start kind of with nothing, that can be a little difficult. However, the support that everyone at PBS Wisconsin has had so far has been really incredible for me.”
The position with PBS Wisconsin focuses on reaching out to collaborate with communities in making their mission, voice, and experiences heard and seen and is aligned with what Danel Uribe pursued academically. With both undergraduate and graduate degrees in communications, Danel Uribe’s focus on radio, TV, and film as an undergraduate laid out a path to arrive at her current position as an inspiring point of contact for an incredibly important outlet for public life, news, and education.
“I think what’s so important is that PBS is so accessible,” Danel said. “It’s an incredibly accessible medium. PBS Wisconsin is for everyone. I think that’s also one of the things that drives us with community engagement is that some communities and some people don’t necessarily know that. That’s okay, because representation in media is tough, and I don’t think that’s a surprise for anyone. To be able to see yourself in media is incredibly important.”
Being born in Mexico City, it seemed like a coincidence that Danel’s interviews with PBS coincided with PBS Wisconsin’s coverage of the area. After checking out the piece released by PBS and in light of a personal trip with her partner returning to Mexico City that was also coming up, she was seemingly in a moment where fate took over. The ability to present cultures, people, and places authentically and often through ways that involve the people themselves is something that made an impact on Danel, and something she hopes to carry on through her role as associate director of community engagement and impact.
“We’re not in and out,” Danel assured. “I think that’s something that I want to make sure is always felt with our team. We are not out here just because we have one TV show or we have one documentary. We are creating and fostering and nurturing these relationships because we want communities to feel represented, to feel valued, and to feel connected with PBS Wisconsin. We have the programming and the events and this really intentional outreach that we want to do. We have some big projects coming up in 2023, which I’m super stoked about. “
The excitement in the potential outreach of PBS Wisconsin was shared through how expansive Danel and her team are hoping to take their efforts. Areas such as Eau Claire, La Crosse, and Appleton were discussed as locations that had stories, communities, and people as impactful and active as those in the Milwaukee and Madison areas that are often given more attention. The importance of exploring the experiences of those people, especially communities of color in Wisconsin outside of the Madison/Milwaukee area, is something that Danel hopes to continuously expand on. A drive that could be traced back to an experience working with students at UW-Whitewater.
“I started doing community engagement without realizing I was doing community engagement,” remembers Danel. “The big moment for me was when I started working with the King/Chávez [Scholars Program] cohort at UW-Whitewater. I had all students of color in 2016, in Wisconsin, a crazy time for that. Our little community we created, and I’m still close to a lot of them. I’m so proud of them because now they’re fully graduated and grown and doing amazing things. That’s when it kind of shifted for me where I was like, ‘I can do something.’”
When coming from communities, peoples, or cultures that are often underrepresented or seemingly totally disconnected in the local community, it can be difficult to remedy issues of alienation or isolation. However, a passion and personal feeling of responsibility to address and work to fix those issues are exactly what drives Danel to consider who and what is out there to start making people feel seen, heard, and capable of changing their community.
“The little work that we’re able to do becomes a catalyst,” said Danel. “When you’re able to start seeing that go on, it’s really powerful. I think that’s what’s really exciting about this. Media is consumed in all different ways, but being able to watch something through video and television or audio storytelling in a way that’s very accessible to you lets you feel comfortable accessing it. All of that is really important to just make essentially learning easier. At the core, that’s what a lot of people do through our PBS content, they learn and they engage with things and sometimes with themselves, which I think is really cool.”
Danel’s position will certainly continue to motivate growth and dialogue between PBS Wisconsin and Wisconsin communities, but a clear takeaway she wanted from her work was recognition for the people who work every day to better their communities and make their voices heard. Representing the culture and history well is crucial as these community workers often work with or through such topics and practices to understand the present and move toward the future. The recognition of such an impactful and historical organization as PBS is a powerful tool, and with the guidance of an engaged and passionate team, PBS looks to continue its service to the public in an even wider capacity.
“There are organizations that do so much with so little and it blows my mind on an everyday basis how incredibly generous people are with themselves,” said Danel, who also currently sits on the Goodman Community Center board of directors. “Not only with their time, because when you are a representative of your community, but you’re also not just giving your physical labor or your timesheet, you’re doing a lot of emotional labor as well. That burden to represent and represent well is one that I think is very unique. I just wish I had money to give everyone.”
Financial support is always appreciated for community efforts, and if financial support is not possible, then supporting the community with your time or even simply your voice through spreading awareness can make huge changes. Danel and her team are looking to give their support across the state of Wisconsin, especially for communities and people who may feel that their voice is yet to be heard. The work of elevating that voice can simply start by reaching out, and if your inquiries do happen to lead to Danel, you can always break the ice by asking about her dog, Sherlock.
Visit the PBS Wisconsin website here to learn about the organization and to reach out for any further connections or information.