The Dane County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the renaming of the County’s Office of Equity and Inclusion, just opened this year, in honor of its first director, Tamara Grigsby. Grigsby died in March at the age of 41.
The vote comes a day after Wesley Sparkman was named the director of the office.
“I want to thank the board for this resolution,” said Grigsby’s father Howard Grigsby. “We are extremely grateful for it, and I know Tamara would be smiling for herself. We are honored also that a department such as this, for equity and inclusion, would bear her name. Tamara was a very fervent advocate of justice, equity and inclusion.”
Grigsby represented Milwaukee in the Wisconsin State Assembly from 2005 through 2013. She later served in the office of Dane County Executive Joe Parisi before helping to found and direct the Office of Equity and Inclusion.
Grigsby graduated from Madison Memorial High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from Howard University and a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin. She taught at UW-Milwaukee, Carroll University and Cardinal Stritch University. She was a social worker and family counselor in addition to her government service.
“Her abilities and her talents helped move a vision for racial equity and social justice for every Dane County resident closer to reality,” said Supervisor Patrick Miles. “Tamara’s depth of knowledge, her passion for justice, and her preparation for an equitable future has positioned Dane County well. It’s now up to us to continue her advocacy and truly transform Dane County. Tamara was a skilled and passionate advocate for equity, for children, for youth and for women. Her life was gone much too soon, but let each of us continue to build on her legacy of making Dane County a more equitable and inclusive community.”
Supervisor Carousel Bayrd said Grigsby was instrumental in the work the County Board did over the last two years to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
“We worked tirelessly, but we would not have been as successful as we were without the support and assistance of Tamara Grigsby,” she said. “She was instrumental in talking to us, in helping us navigate the complexities of what was happening in our city. Her wisdom and advice and calm and sternness, sometimes, was invaluable. She clearly made a difference on the state level but she absolutely, undoubtedly made a huge difference in Dane County. She left a mark.”
The Tamara Grigsby Office of Equity and Inclusion is the first County department to be named for a person.