In smaller cities, it can be a struggle for young black professionals to find the support they need in work environments and to network them with the opportunities they need to thrive. The Madison Network of Black Professionals(MNBP) is a diverse local group of individuals — interconnected by heritage, education, business, technology and social activities — with the purpose of networking and sharing information of interest to African Americans.
“Part of our mission is to make Madison an ideal place for black professionals to thrive,” MNBP President Anglinia Washington tells Madison365. “I think one way of doing that is by creating that sense of community. I feel like it can be really difficult being a minority and coming to Madison to meet other like-minded people. Usually, at your place of work you are one of one [person of color] or one of two. It’s hard to learn about the things in the community that you need to know: where to get your hair done, where to grocery shop, where to socialize, etc.”
Washington remembers when she first joined the organization back in 2006. “When I first heard about the group I was still in graduate school and I went to one of the luncheons and there was such a sense of community. It was so nice to meet all of these people who were doing wonderful things in Madison,” she remembers.
A couple years before that, MNBP was established in August 2004 with a group of 20 individuals who had an interest in connecting as professionals to help learn and leverage themselves as active African Americans in Madison. Since then, MNBP has grown quite a bit and Washington says they now have over 50 paid members. “Paid members receive access to all of the special programs and tickets to events,” Washington says.
Members also get full online access to the MNBP website, which includes access to the membership directory as well as community resources. Members can submit events, activities, and jobs information directly on the website.
“We have monthly luncheons and four professional development opportunities throughout the year,” Washington says. “Plus, we have great networking opportunities as well as First Fridays. We offer quite a bit of events and opportunities.”
MNBP’s First Fridays takes place at various downtown restaurants at the beginning of every month. It’s a social get-together with free food, music, dancing, and networking. The MNBP also hosts their Annual Summer Picnic at McKee Farms in Fitchburg, a festive affair where members get together and barbeque, socialize, and play board games and dominoes.
MNBP consists of primarily African Americans in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who are interested in promoting ideas and concepts that positively impact the black community in Madison. The MNBP is an essential agency in welcoming African Americans to the greater Madison and Dane County community. In a smaller city like Madison, it is often hard for people of color to connect and that’s one of the purposes of the MNBP.
“Networking is fun; but it’s also a great way to get information out to the community,” Washington says. “It’s a great way to stay informed and know what’s happening in our community.”
MNBP give support to individuals and offer an opportunity for people of color in Madison to network, socialize and connect.
“With the Madison Network of Black Professionals, it’s just nice to meet other with similar backgrounds who are striving to do good things in the community who might already even be established in the community,” Washington says. “It can be hard to meet those people in the greater community.”
The Madison Network of Black Professionals, affectionately known as “the Network,” works to provide professional growth and development of its members.
“The network offers that opportunity to talk with people about just about anything,” Washington says. “Who can you talk to that you can trust to navigate certain situations in your workplace or in your career? Also, who do you talk to if you want to move to another position? How do you find out where to go or who’s hiring? How do we know if a company offers an environment that we want to work in?”
Washington’s presidency term for MNBP will be ending at the end of December and Dawn Crim will be taking over her position. Washington says she has enjoyed her time as president immensely. “It presents an interesting mix of challenges. That’s a great thing about the network: It gives you the opportunity to get leadership experience that you will be able to use later in life. I’ve learned quite a bit in the different roles I’ve had at MNBP. It’s been a very valuable experience for me.”
Ultimately, MNBP provide the sense of community that helps talented young black professionals stay in Madison.
“Our goals are to keep growing the network and getting more and more people involved,” Washington says. “I feel like it is a great organization with so much to offer and I would love to see it continue to get bigger and bigger.”