This is the first of a five-part series.
We’ve published our Black Power list every year since our founding, and it’s become the most anticipated thing we do. Every year, I’ve intended this list to highlight the beauty of the diversity across our state. I want kids here in Wisconsin to see role models of people who are succeeding, to know that it’s possible for African Americans to achieve great things here.
That’s exactly what our first three lists accomplished, and what we hope to continue with this year’s list.
A lot has happened since we published Black Power 2017 a year ago. The Wisconsin Leadership Summit in October and the founding of the Wisconsin Leadership Council, both of which grew directly from past lists of the most influential African American and Latino leaders, truly showed the power of gathering these influential leaders of color to work together on issues, learn from each other and create new and lasting connections. This list is no longer just a list. It is also an invitation — an invitation to engage, to create, to make Wisconsin a better place for the next generation of leaders of color.
We have never intended this list to be exhaustive. Obviously, no list has been, because we keep finding more and more dynamic leaders doing real work across the private, public and nonprofit sectors. This list will, however, introduce you to some people you’ve never heard of who are doing great things in other parts of the state or simply working behind the scenes, doing the work without the accolades.
It was important for us to expand the way we think about influence, and to highlight more of the people doing what it takes to improve their community. That’s one reason this list is entirely new — we considered anyone named on previous lists to be ineligible for this one, even though most of the people on past lists continue to wield considerable influence.
Over the next five days I hope you learn something you didn’t know about some of the real leaders in communities throughout Wisconsin, and that we might be able to make some connections and start conversations that really move communities forward.
Publisher and CEO, Madison365
Mandela Barnes was elected Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor this past November, becoming the first African-American to hold that office. At 32, he’ll also be one of the youngest ever. He was a key member of the ticket after easily winning the primary to become Tony Evers’ running mate in the general election. He leveraged social media and became an outspoken advocate in favor of racial equity protests like NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. He was even accused of kneeling during the anthem at the Wisconsin State Fair by incumbent Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who later apologized. Barnes represented Milwaukee in the State Assembly from 2013-2017.
Earnell Lucas is the incoming Sheriff of Milwaukee County, having won election to succeed David Clarke who left the post abruptly earlier this year. He previously served as Major League Baseball’s Chief Liaison of Security & Investigations for the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues. He was responsible for developing security best practices for the 160 clubs in Minor League Baseball, making security presentations to the players at the major and minor league levels and conducting investigations to safeguard the integrity of Major League Baseball. He previously served as the Vice-President of Security and Facility Management, charged with overseeing the security operations for all of Major League Baseball, and as the Supervisor of Security for Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig.
Dennis J. Shields is Chancellor of The University of Wisconsin-Platteville. During his nine years at the helm, the campus has realized tremendous growth. Enrollment grew nearly 11 percent from 2010 to fall 2016. Most recently, he piloted an impressive effort to gain legislative and gubernatorial approval to build Sesquicentennial Hall, a new $55 million state-of-the-art engineering facility on campus as well as a $23.7 million renovation project for one of the liberal arts buildings on campus. Those two projects, plus a $15.3 million Williams Fieldhouse expansion, will give UW-Platteville more than $93 million in upcoming growth and improvements. Additionally, Chancellor Shields led the construction of two residence halls, one with a dining facility. They were built to accommodate the influx of students who have enrolled during his tenure. Chancellor Shields is also leading the restructuring of UW-Platteville. Approved by the UW System Board of Regents in November 2017, the former two-year colleges UW-Richland and UW-Baraboo/Sauk County became branch campuses of UW-Platteville, effective July 1. An Iowa native, Chancellor Shields earned his undergraduate degree in business administration from Graceland College in 1977 and his Juris Doctor from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1982.
Dawn Crim serves as the Assistant State Superintendent for Student and School Success for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. She has 25 years of progressive leadership in education and 21 years employment in UW System with operational knowledge of UW-Madison and UW-Extension under her belt. A founding member of the Madison Network of Black Professionals (MNBP), Crim received the he Mike McKinney Award from the United Way of Dane County.
Jamaal Eubanks founded Eubanks Solutions LLC in 2018, where he strives to inspire and motivate individuals, companies, community organizations, and schools with a primary focus on at-risk youth between the ages of 11-21. He is a motivational speaker, educational consultant, and coach. Born and raised in Madison, Eubanks co-created a mentoring program, Pivotal Transition, that focuses on giving Black youth the tools to look beyond tomorrow. He is also the force behind the #FuelOrCrutch movement.
Bria Grant serves as the Executive Director of UniteMKE where she has committed to improving the health of the city by training and coordinating community organizations and community health workers. She has worked as a substance abuse and mental health counselor, prevention/intervention coordinator for youth and community organizer. Grant, a Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) graduate and longtime Milwaukee resident, made a lifelong commitment to serving her community and has a tireless passion for social justice.
Eric Gallien is the Superintendent of Schools for the Racine Unified School District (RUSD). Originally from Milwaukee, he has lived in Racine for the last five years and has worked in education for 21 years. Gallien focuses on building positive internal culture within RUSD. He is committed to addressing disparities in academics and discipline in the school district, particularly among African-American males.
Rayna Andrews is the outreach director for Feeding America of Eastern Wisconsin, a premiere public health organization focused on food security and household stabilization throughout Wisconsin. Their mission is to solve hunger by working with community partners to address the root causes of household instability (food, housing, healthcare and employment). As a member of the executive team, Rayna oversees the strategy, expansion and performance of the external relations team; including community relations, volunteer engagement, member services and programs to ensure the more than 36 counties served have access to healthy and safe emergency food assistance. Rayna was named one of Milwaukee Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” in 2016. Rayna is a trustee and founding board member of the Milwaukee Excellence Charter School and is a leading voice in “Unlucky 13”, a task force that fights human trafficking.
Dr. Sylvia Carey-Butler is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Support of Inclusive Excellence at UW Oshkosh, a post she’s held since 2013. Prior to coming to Oshkosh, she served as Interim Executive Director of the United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) Institute for Capacity Building and the inaugural Director of UNCF’s Enrollment Management Program. She also served as Assistant Provost and Dean of Honors at Dillard University in New Orleans. She also served as Associate Dean of Studies at Lafayette College in Easton, PA; she has also held numerous positions in higher education for the State of New York. Overall, her career in education has spanned over three decades and she has won several awards, including an Honorary Doctorate from SUNY-Oneonta. She was the first African American to earn that distinction.
Part 2 coming tomorrow!