Black Power 2017: Wisconsin’s 35 Most Influential Black Leaders, Part 3


    This is the third in a five-part series. Read Part Two here.

    Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Greek Freak, is the Milwaukee Bucks’ first legit MVP candidate since … well, let’s just say it’s been a while. He is currently the second leading scorer in the NBA, averaging 30 points per game. His sudden rise to fame comes when the Bucks need it most — with the career of first-round pick Jabari Parker derailed by injury and a new arena in the works, the team needed an injection of fan excitement — and Giannis has delivered. Giannis is Greek of African descent, and recently while in New York City hosted dozens of Greek nationals for a celebration of his community.

    Keetra Burnette works as a Senior Director of Community Impact for the United Way of Dane County where she is the first African American to hold that role. She oversees six United Way community solutions teams responsible for the annual allocation of more than $11 million of United Way’s annual investments in the community’s “Agenda for Change.” Part of that agenda is the aforementioned effort to improve police-community relations. Another part is to implement a new strategic focus aimed at addressing poverty and racial inequities. She previously served as COO of the Urban League of Greater Madison and prior to that spent ten years at UW Hospital and Clinics. Her extensive community leadership has included founding Madison Black Women Rock, serving as President of the Madison Network of Black Professionals, and spearheading a Sickle Cell Awareness blood drive. Burnette is credited with bridging the gap between communities of color and law enforcement following the fatal shooting of Tony Robinson by a Madison police officer. Burnette has participated in a variety of community-building efforts, including “Stop the Violence” public-service announcements, the ACT Prep initiative to increase the college readiness of youth who would be the first in their family to attend college and getting Madison involved in President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative.

    Nancy Hanks isn’t just one of the most influential black leaders in Wisconsin, but one of the heaviest hitters in the nation. At least, that’s according to The Root, which put her on “The Root 100” list in 2016 after she spoke at the 25th anniversary Teach for America summit, where she recalled how encountering a student she’d previously expelled changed her approach to school discipline. Now, as chief of elementary schools for the Madison Metropolitan School District, she is leading a revolution in school discipline, which still disproportionately affects students of color. She brings years of experience as a teacher and administrator in Atlanta and Chicago, as well as a graduate degree from Harvard.

    Reverend David Hart is a lifelong Madisonian, a former Assistant Attorney General, former  civil rights and criminal defense attorney, current Dane County prosecutor, and pastor at Sherman Avenue United Methodist Church of Madison. With over 15 years of legal experience as both a criminal defense attorney and a prosecutor, Hart has a unique, holistic perspective of the criminal justice system and has written and published noted papers and commentary of the same. Hart is a volunteer mentor, tutor, and coach and columnist. For his extensive community work, Hart was recognized with the “Individual Partner for Justice Award” from the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence and was featured in In Business magazine in their annual “40 Under 40” issue.

    Martha Love is the one you need to talk to if you want to get into Democratic Party politics in Milwaukee. She’s been a community activist, political organizer and labor leader in the Milwaukee Community for over 37 years. Love was an AFSCME union representative who fought hard to ensure equal treatment of African American employees as well as other people of color and is a Union Leader of the Democratic Party of Milwaukee. Love’s experience is extensive and includes stints as Chair of both the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and the Milwaukee County Democratic Party. She currently sits on many boards such as the UMOS advisory board, AFSCME, Local 1055, AFL-CIO board, Forest County Potawatomi Advisory Foundation Board, Women Fund and Martin Luther King Annual Celebration Boards.

    Ugo Nwagbaragcha is the President of construction tool and heavy equipment manufacturer Diamond Discs International, which is in full-fledged growth mode, looking to triple its workforce in the next two years. The company recently bought a new building on Milwaukee’s northwest side and will soon relocate its HQ from West Allis. Nwagbaragcha has won a multitude of small business awards and sits on the board of directors for many organizations including UW Children’s Hospital, Better Business Bureau and Metro Milwaukee Association of Commerce. He has provided mentorship and put small businesses into the Milwaukee area.

    Dr. Phillips T Oriaran is an inventor and scientist in his day job, but also an elder statesman of Fox Valley’s Black community. He is the co-founder of African Heritage, Inc. a significant non-profit organization focused on supporting African Americans in Northeast Wisconsin. Some of his accomplishments include the creation of Appleton’s Annual Juneteenth Celebration, recognized as one of the top seven Juneteenth events in the United States. He also focuses his energies on an event to honor Black fathers with a Father’s Day Brunch and celebrates the accomplishments of students at the African Heritage Emerging Student Leaders Institute. Professionally, Dr. Oriaran is a highly recognized scientist both nationally and internationally within the paper industry. He holds many patents for well-known household products and processes used to make these consumer products. He began his career path in the sciences by earning a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Forest Products from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, continued his studies at Miami University, Oxford Ohio, where he earned a Master’s of Science degree in Paper Science & Engineering. Dr. Oriaran pursued his lifetime learning focus by earning a Ph.D. in Forest Products from the Penn State.

    Watch for Part Four tomorrow!