Every year since our founding in 2015, we have recognized Wisconsin’s most influential Black and Latino leaders, and we were very proud in 2020 to also begin to recognize Indigenous and Asian American leaders. It’s become the most anticipated thing we do. Every year, I’ve intended these lists to highlight the beauty of the diversity across our state. I want kids here in Wisconsin to see role models of people who are succeeding, to know that it’s possible for people of color to achieve great things here.
This week we shine a statewide spotlight on the dedicated leaders of Wisconsin’s Hmong, Chinese-American, Japanese-American, Pacific Islander, South Asian, and other communities. These are richly diverse communities with roots that represent a massive geographic area. The people we highlight this week are elected leaders, business leaders and community leaders, doing difficult, important work, often in the face of discrimination and literally generations of oppression.
We are also aware that this list, like every other, is not comprehensive. There are, without a doubt, more than 34 influential Asian American leaders doing good work in Wisconsin. We hope you will let us know about people in your community who we can include on future lists. For now, though, we just want to introduce you to a few of the people doing the work, often behind the scenes and without the accolades, across Wisconsin.
You might know a few of these names, but there’s a good chance that most of them will be new to you. I urge you to get to know them. Reach out to those living and working in your communities. Learn from them, network, create partnerships. And spread the word — let others in your network know that we have people of all ethnicities living and working across Wisconsin to make this state a good and prosperous place for all.
Henry Sanders, Jr
CEO, 365 Media Foundation
Publisher, Madison365 and FoxValley365
This is the first of a five-part series.
Jackie Krutz works for the Green Bay Packers as residential property and programming manager for Titletown, the team’s new 45-acre mixed-use development just west of Lambeau Field. It was developed with the intent of giving back to the community and offering guests 365 days of fun activities. Jackie oversees more than 35 daily programs and 35 major annual events on the property as well as the process for sales of new homes, steering business strategies and more. She has worked in real estate development in Massachusetts and California over her 20-year career. She is also a co-founder of the Northeast Wisconsin APIDA Professionals Organization.
Malika Siker, MD is Associate Dean for Student Inclusion and Diversity and an Associate Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Medical College of Wisconsin. In her administrative role, she directs initiatives focusing on cultivating a culture of inclusion for learners and increasing student diversity through pathway programs for learners interested in health science careers. Her patient care emphases are blood, brain, pediatric, and prostate cancers. She has published multiple peer-reviewed manuscripts, essays, and book chapters and is a passionate advocate for health equity.
Jay Patel is an investment portfolio manager at American Family Insurance. He helped found the company’s social impact venture capital unit. As a Founding Curator in the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community, Jay attended the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training program led by Al Gore and a team of world-renowned scientists, activists, and innovators. Jay serves on the board of directors for Sustain Dane, a Dane County-based organization with a mission to inspire, connect, and support people to accelerate equity and sustainable actions for community wellbeing.
Jian-Guo Sun is president of the Wisconsin International Academy, a residential school for international students preparing to enter their undergraduate or graduate study at American universities. By partnering with local universities and high schools, WIA provides “Total-Care Program” services for students to develop their English skills and to learn about American culture through both classroom learning and interactive extra-curricular activities. The school has recently expanded to open the Greater Chicago International Academy. Jian-Guo is also a member of the Elmbrook School District Board of Education.
Syed Abbas is president of the Madison Common Council. First elected to represent the 12th district on Madison’s East Side in 2019, he served as vice president in 2020. Professionally he is an energy efficiency manager and business development manager for Slipstream. He also serves on the board of directors of the United States Green Building Council.
Pauleen Le is a six-time Emmy-nominated journalist who serves as a morning anchor at CBS 58 in Milwaukee. She produced the acclaimed “Asian in Wisconsin: Battling Bias in the Badger State” news special earlier this year. She began her journey at CBS 58 as a weekend anchor/reporter in October of 2018 after starting her career at WKBT News 8 in La Crosse and WLUK FOX 11 in Green Bay. She comes to Milwaukee most recently from Fort Wayne, Indiana where she helped launch and anchor the morning show at Fort Wayne’s NBC affiliate. Her career has taken her on special assignments to Los Angeles where she followed local contestants during their journey on NBC’s The Voice. She also traveled down to Moore Oklahoma, to cover the Coulee region’s efforts to help tornado victims recover. Originally from Eagan, Minnesota, she graduated from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Part 2 coming tomorrow!