Black Power 2018: Wisconsin’s 42 Most Influential Black Leaders, Part 4


    This is the fourth of a five-part series. Part 1 is available here, part 2 is available here and part 3 is available here.

    Chris Hess of Appleton was named president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin earlier this year. Previous to taking the helm at Goodwill Industries, Hess, 37, was vice president of market development and sales for ThedaCare. He has also worked for U.S. Venture and Genco (now FedEx Supply Chain). He currently serves on the board of directors of the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce. The Kenosha native earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Norbert College and a master’s in business administration from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

    Rev. Greg Lewis of Milwaukee is the president of Pastors United in Milwaukee, a tightly-woven non-profit with a board of directors and membership of over 300 faith leaders. This past fall Lewis led the Souls to the Polls initiative to increase voter turnout in the City of Milwaukee. More than 100 congregations participated in the city-wide effort to register voters, verify that they have voter ID, and turn out the vote. Pastors United as an organization is committed to seeking God for guidance in organizing and mobilizing for solutions to the social, economic and spiritual problems facing the urban Milwaukee community. Pastors United considers this mission a response to the biblical mandate to love and help the needy the widow, the fatherless, the hungry and the poor.

    Genyne Edwards of Milwaukee is is a founder and Partner at P3 Development Group.She is an experienced consultant and attorney who has worked in community development and social enterprise for more than 15 years and. She specializes in building partnerships and coalitions, managing and staffing projects, and conducting research. During the course of her career, Genyne has been instrumental in leading and developing successful public-private partnerships, which have convened community leaders, influential interest groups, public health advocates, government officials and policy makers. In 2016, Edwards was named “Entrepreneur of The Year,” an award presented by ONE MKE and United Way’s Diversity Leadership Society. She also previously served as Deputy Secretary in the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.

    Robin Nicole Tinnon is a Prevention Coordinator for the Black Youth Alliance-WI in Green Bay. The Chicago native is an activist, public intellectual, and writer who advocates for the oppressed. Currently, she works to help black youth be positive participants of healthy relationships and discover black culture devoid of the consumerism viewpoint. She was also honored by African Heritage Inc. with a Sistah Power Award for 2018. She became a first-generation graduate of Kansas City Community College and and continued on to UW-Green Bay, earning a degree in Integrative Leadership Studies with an emphasis of Psychology and Human Development. Robin went on to explore several countries, putting an emphasis on cultural understanding, exploration, personal agency and development. 

    Brandon Williams still holds the record for the most receptions as a Wisconsin Badgers wide receiver with 202, but today spends his time on the front lines motivating, educating and empowering athletes, entrepreneurs and executives on the importance of creating a winning culture. He is in the midst of launching Kingdom Man, a new magazine to celebrate and guide men of faith. Brandon earned a communications degree and an entrepreneurship certificate from the University of Wisconsin. In the NFL, he played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, and St. Louis Rams. Upon leaving the NFL in 2010 Brandon began a broadcasting career with the Big Ten Network and ESPN radio. Brandon has worked with and interviewed hundreds of athletes and entrepreneurs to find out what it takes to build transformational leadership qualities. As an entrepreneur himself he successfully runs Madison Noteworthy, a video based website that captures the stories of noteworthy Entrepreneurs in Madison. His book, Millionaire Mindset – 7 Principles Athletes Need to Gain Financial Freedom, is enhanced with essential principles to give aspiring professional athletes, and current professional athletes, the tools to create a blueprint for financial freedom.

    Dr. Joan Prince serves as Vice Chancellor at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, appointed in 2000. She is the chief administrator for the Divisions of Global Inclusion and Engagement and Partnerships and Innovation, with responsibilities as the Chief Inclusion Officer. She also leads campus-wide project areas such as the STEM Inspire Pipeline, the Inclusive Internationalization Project, Global Partnerships in STEM, Center for International Health, and Equity/Diversity Services. In 2012, Dr. Prince was nominated by President Barack Obama to the key administrative post of Alternate Representative to the 67th General Assembly of the United Nations, with the honorary rank of Ambassador. This diplomatic position also maintains an appointment as a Senior Advisor to the State Department and Public Delegate. Her roles and responsibilities included serving as a United States representative to UN committees and related organizations such as ECOSOC, UN Women, UNESCO, and UNICEF, delivering statements on US policy, and engaging other diplomats and advisors in discussions focusing on global issues. She also served as a member of the 2013 United States Delegation to the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), appointed by Secretary John Kerry and Ambassador Susan E. Rice. A native of Milwaukee, Prince was the first African American recipient of a Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Technology and Masters in Clinical Laboratory Sciences, with a specialty in Hematology and Flow Cytometry, from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. She also holds a doctorate degree in Urban Education, with a specialty in Medical Science Education from UWM. She has been acknowledged as a 2007 Aspen Institute Fellow, a 2008 member of the International Jewish Council’s Civic Leadership delegation to Israel, a fellow of the Millennium Leadership Institute Class of 2009 for higher education executives, and a 2012 Fellow of the American Council on Education.

    Marilyn Ruffin is an influential member of the Sun Prairie School Board, where she has served since 2015. She has also served as a substitute teacher in the district (which she describes as “gathering intelligence” on what students really need). She is also Director of Family and Community Initiatives at One City Early Learning Center, Madison’s first school to receive a charter from the University of Wisconsin to provide 4k and kindergarten services. Her accolades include the Award of Excellence, Outstanding Educator from 100 Black Men of Madison and the Difference Maker for Excellence in Community Service from the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute in 2015. She was named one of Brava Magazine’s Women to Watch and Sun Prairie Star’s People to Watch, both in 2016, and in 2017 was given the Community Volunteer Award by the United Way of Dane County. Prior to forging a second career in education, she was an engineer who spent a full career in the wireless industry and shifted gears to bring her engineering and problem-solving skills to take on the school system.

    Dr. Patrick J. Sims was hired as the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s vice provost for diversity and climate in 2013, after serving as interim vice provost. Recently taking on the title of deputy vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion, in addition to vice provost and chief diversity officer, Sims oversees the Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement. The division supports the mission of the University of Wisconsin-Madison as it works to create a diverse, inclusive, and excellent learning and work environment for all students, faculty, staff, alumni and others who partner with the university. Sims joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2004, where he became the first African American to serve as chair of the Department of Theater and Drama. Sims is the founder of TCSA, the Theatre for Cultural and Social Awareness and served abroad to launch pilot TCSA programs as visiting faculty. Before joining the faculty at UW-Madison, Sims was a company member at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival as well as a faculty associate in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. There he served as a founding member and artistic director of the Human Experience Theatre (HET). TCSA and HET are interactive theatre-based training models that dramatize sensitive subject matters for universities, corporate and non-profit organizations in the United States.

    Part Five coming tomorrow!