Every Thursday around seven o’clock at night, households tune in to PBS Wisconsin to watch host Angela Fitzgerald expose herself to a new part of the state, meet new people and learn about their lives.
“It’s cool to have those daily interactions with people I might not have interacted with before,” Fitzgerald tells Madison365.
Fitzgerald travels all over the state to speak with farmers, performers, business owners, baseball teams and everyday people who call the Dairy State home. She said this role changed her idea of Wisconsin in a lot of ways, especially not being from the state originally.
“Initially, I moved here from Richmond, Virginia, which is where I initially moved after college,” Fitzgerald said.
She earned an undergraduate and graduate degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Virginia Commonwealth University, respectively. She briefly considering relocating to Oakland before flying into Madison for an interview.
“When I announced to my family I was moving, they were literally scared for me because they didn’t have a point of reference. There was literally cheese, beer and football,” Fitzgerald said.
Now, she’s made a home in the city of Madison with her husband, Anthony. In addition to being on television, Fitzgerald is currently pursuing her doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, working as faculty within Madison College’s Psychology Department, and serving as Director of Family, Youth & Community Engagement for Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD). When she’s not wearing either of those roles she may be giving others financial planning advice.
Fitzgerald stays busy in all different types of endeavors, but she says her friends and family keep her grounded. She also said most opportunities she’s earned have been flexible and accommodating. Fitzgerald loves getting involved with the community.
“I have some very supportive people in my home base. My spouse holds me down,” she said.
Fitzgerald said connecting with her support system made her experience living here great. She cultivated a circle of friends, colleagues and supporters over time. When Fitzgerald first arrived to the city, she went on what she called a “Black people scavenger hunt” after following up on several referrals from friends.
“I literally remember that I googled ‘soul food restaurants’ and Melly Mels came up,” she said.
Fitzgerald said she talked with the staff for an hour after she got her chicken and waffles. While living in the city, she tried to remain in the loop. Fitzgerald would say that her path in her career was not strategic at all but rather a series of attempts to connect to a new community, unlike the one she had at home.
After she found her way, she found opportunities to contribute to the community. In addition to teaching psychology, Fitzgerald worked as a professional financial educator with Summit Credit Union. Then, her work in financial literacy led her to working on “Brown Girl, Green Money,” a social network of women of color working to support the achievement and pursuit of financial goals. Fitzgerald also worked as the Emerging Initiatives and Volunteer Coordinator for Justified Anger and the Center for Urban Leadership Development.
Fitzgerald said hosting Wisconsin Life has been an unexpected experience. This gig has also given her a new respect for people who work in the media industry in addition to her newfound perspective of the state.
“I don’t want to do something because I have to do it for a check. I want to do something because I’m passionate about doing it and committed to do it,” she said.