Friends, family and colleagues gathered at the Harmony Bar on Madison’s east side last night in support of Ali Muldrow’s and Ananda Mirilli’s Madison Metropolitan Board of Education campaign.
“We believe powerful women should be involved in things, that includes education,” Muldrow said last night during her announcement.
Local supporters for the two candidates ate chips, salsa, veggies and drank beer as some reminisced over their experiences of the two women, like Sabrina Madison, who has known both candidates for quite some time. On stage, Madison shared her first encounters with both candidates. Muldrow facilitated her son’s poetry class and Madison met Mirilli while working at Madison College.
“They’ve been so supportive in education and in meetings since I’ve known them,” Madison said.
Madison, founder of the Progress Center for Black Women, said she chose to use her leverage as a social entrepreneur in the community to support the two candidates. Madison also said their announcement for school board excites her because most people do not have the opportunity to support candidates they’ve gotten to know through working in the community.
“We need to make room for black brilliance and black leadership,” Mirilli said.
Mirilli spoke about ensuring that leadership expands its capacity for voices like theirs. Both she and Muldrow spoke about challenging the status quo and advocating for student voices.
“I’ve known Ali for the past 10 years. We facilitated a class together,” Mary Swenson said.
Swenson met Muldrow through MMSD while working as a teacher. She’s even invited Muldrow to help facilitate poetry workshops in some of her courses. For, Swenson, Muldrow’s announcement does not come as a surprise to her.
“I knew early on she was passionate about education. She was volunteering her time. She cares about student voices,” she said.
A lot of the attendees resonated with their message and agree both of the women have the knowledge to get the job done. Vice Chair of the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Dane County Juan José Lopez, who is also a former school board member echoed a similar sentiment.
“I’m here because these two women care about all our kids. They represent diversity. Both are parents. They are compassionate, caring, and committed,” he said.
Lopez said both women have the experience to back up their campaign. If elected Mirilli and Muldrow would be the second and third women of color on the MMSD school board.
“There’s no learning curve here folks. We know what needs to happen for our kids and our schools,” Mirilli said.
Both Mirilli and Muldrow have run for school board before. In 2017 Muldrow won the primary over Kate Toews and several other candidates, but Toews won the general election. Mirilli ran in 2005 and came in third in the primary; the top vote-getter, Sarah Manski, dropped out of the race the day after the primary, leaving Mirilli unable to compete in the general election, effectively handing the election to TJ Mertz, whom Mirilli is now running to unseat.