Home Most Influential Wisconsin’s 48 Most Influential Black Leaders 2021

Wisconsin’s 48 Most Influential Black Leaders 2021


We’ve published our Black Power list every year since our founding — this is our sixth annual — and it’s become the most anticipated thing we do. Every year, I’ve intended this list 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 Black people to achieve great things here.

That’s exactly what our first five lists accomplished, and what we hope to continue with this year’s list.

We can’t pretend, though, that this is just another year. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on our communities for nearly two years now — our health and our jobs and our financial wellbeing and our education system, and all of these effects are most pronounced in our Black communities. Add to that the brighter-than-ever spotlight on the injustice of systemic racism — it’s been a tough couple years for everybody, but even more so for our Black communities.

Many have responded to this extraordinary time by expressing an authentic desire to learn more about Black people, get to know Black communities, celebrate Black excellence. That’s what this list is — and has always been — about. This list is no longer just a list. It is also an invitation — an invitation to engage, to create, to make Wisconsin a better place to attract and retain leaders of color.

We have never intended this list to be exhaustive. Obviously, no list has been, because we keep finding more and more dynamic leaders doing real work across the private, public and nonprofit sectors. This list will, however, introduce you to some people you’ve never heard of who are doing great things in other parts of the state or simply working behind the scenes, doing the work without the accolades.

It was important for us to expand the way we think about influence, and to highlight more of the people doing what it takes to improve their community. That’s one reason this list is entirely new every year — we considered anyone named on previous lists to be ineligible for this one, even though most of the people on past lists continue to wield considerable influence.

Over the next five days, I hope you learn something you didn’t know about some of the real leaders in communities throughout Wisconsin, and that we might be able to make some connections and start conversations that really move communities forward.

Henry Sanders
Publisher and CEO, Madison365

Timber Smith is diversity, equity and inclusion coordinator for the City of Appleton, a role he just started in June of this year. Before beginning with the city, he spent four years as the coordinator of the Veterans Resource Center and nine years as equity coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. He grew up in Milwaukee and has been living in the Fox Valley since 1992, when he arrived to study at UWO. He has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in educational leadership and policy, both from UWO. 

Marisa Moseley is in her first season as the head women’s basketball coach at the University of Wisconsin. She came to Madison from Boston University, where she was head coach for two seasons. She led the Terriers to their first winning season in five years and was named Patriot League Coach of the Year. Moseley was an assistant coach for nine years under Coach Gino Auriemma at the University of Connecticut, a national women’s basketball powerhouse, following assistant coaching stints at Denver and Minnesota. She played for Boston University from 2000-2004. 

Kalvin Barret was appointed Dane County Sheriff in May 2021 by Governor Tony Evers. He has served as Dane County deputy sheriff and as an officer with the Sun Prairie Police Department, where he was the first Black officer on the force. Previously, he was law enforcement officer at Wisconsin State Fair Park and the faculty director of the criminal justice studies program at Madison College. Kalvin graduated with a BA from UW Sociology in 2004 where he also played football for the Badgers. 

Michael Precia is president and CEO of Fleetworthy Solutions, a Madison-based company providing fleet safety, DOT compliance and risk data consultation services. He has over 25 years of experience selling and managing sales and account management teams, delivering SaaS solutions to global organizations. Michael has held management positions at Purchasepro, Perfect Commerce, Capgemini and Sciquest. Michael is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

David Crowley is Milwaukee County Executive, the first Black person elected to that position. David grew up in Milwaukee’s 53206 neighborhood and dedicated himself to public service early. While still in high school, David served as a community justice coordinator with Urban Underground, giving him his start in community organizing. He joined AmeriCorps when he turned 18, and worked with several other community organizations including Project Return, Safe & Sound Inc., and COA Youth and Family Centers. David also worked as a legislative aide for the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors and the Wisconsin State Senate. He was elected to the State Assembly himself in 2017 and served two terms.

Cindy Bentley is executive director of People First, a statewide self-advocacy organization for people with disabilities. Born with an intellectual disability, Cindy spent much of her childhood at the Southern Wisconsin Center for the Developmentally Disabled. When she began participating in Special Olympics, she gained confidence as she worked with teammates to earn medals in tennis, track and field, and even snowshoeing. Chosen as a Global Messenger for the Special Olympics International in 2000, Cindy has had dinner at the White House with two different American presidents, traveled around the world, and given speeches in front of thousands of people.

Brian Chaney Austin is police chief in the City of Monona, the first person of color to hold that position. He was a police officer in Madison for 19 years, most recently as captain over the traffic and special services division, which includes the forensic crime scene units as well as coordination of police at large events like Freak Fest and Art Fair on the Square. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from Illinois State University.   

Dr. Thomas Gibson is Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He served as vice president for Student Affairs and vice provost at Bowling Green State University from 2016 to 2020. In that role, he advocated for the academic and social development of students, devised institutional policies, engaged in strategic planning, and led student success efforts. Dr. Gibson also helped increase record student retention at Bowling Green State University and helped raise $8 million, in partnership with University Advancement. He has held numerous positions to enhance student success and diversity in higher education. He was associate vice president of student affairs at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. He held several roles at York College, City University of New York in New York City, including associate dean for student development. He led academic support services at Queens College/CUNY and the University of Connecticut at Stamford. Dr. Gibson has taught graduate courses in higher education, English and interdisciplinary programs at the undergraduate level. He completed his bachelor’s degree in communication from Eastern Connecticut State University, his master’s in education from University of New Haven, Conn.; and his doctorate in educational leadership in higher education at Johnson & Wales University, Providence, Rhode Island.

Dr. Jeneise Briggs is Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Coordinator for the City of Eau Claire and Eau Claire County. Dr. Briggs has a wealth of career experience creating EDI programs and fostering relationships with underrepresented communities in positions including Senior Assistant to the President for Diversity and Inclusion for Marian University in Fond du Lac, where she developed and implemented Marian University’s first strategic plan for diversity and inclusion and strengthened Marian’s image and relationship with over 15 community organizations in the Fond du Lac community. Since August 2020, Dr. Briggs has served as the Diversity and Inclusion Specialist, Law School Outreach Coordinator, for the State Bar of Wisconsin where her responsibilities included implementing, monitoring progress, and recommending adjustments in connection with the State Bar Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan and related programs. Dr. Briggs holds a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership, Administration & Policy Analysis from Edgewood College in Madison, WI; a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI; and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications/Public Relations from Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, Jamaica. 

Adonica Randall is president and CEO of Pewaukee-based Abaxent, LLC, the only technology solutions company that is a certified minority/woman-owned business by an African American. In the mid-1970s, she graduated with a computer science/electrical engineering degree from Missouri School of Science and Technology, a master’s degree in biomedical engineering from Marquette University and received a patent in MRI suite lighting in the 1980s. A former leader at GE Medical Systems and A. O. Smith, Randall led the Abaxent technical team that partnered with Johnson Controls on the network technology for Fiserv Forum and the COVID-19 Alternate Care Facility at State Fair Park. She also advocates for women seeking STEM careers and mentors those interested in becoming entrepreneurs. Randall is a frequent speaker on STEAM, DEIB in technology and joint venture partnerships and has been an associate professor in Alverno College’s Department of Computer Sciences.

Chris Reece is a meteorologist at News 3 Now, where he has become a well-known personality in the community since coming to Madison in 2018. Days after the murder of George Floyd, he declared “it’s time for me to speak up,” and no longer follow the advice of a mentor who’d cautioned him not to take on controversial topics as a public figure. But in a June 2020 editorial on WISC-TV in Madison, he recounted hearing racist jokes as a child and being encouraged by a professor to give up on college, and called on viewers to change the narrative around race. He got his start in TV as an associate producer and fill-in anchor at Western Kentucky University’s News Channel 12 and a weather anchor at WBKO, Bowling Green’s ABC affiliate.

Dr. Rainey Briggs was named superintendent for the School District of Baraboo in July 2021 after serving as Director of Elementary Education in the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District for the past five years. Dr. Briggs has served as a cultural liaison, teacher, and principal. As an African American boy growing up in poverty, Dr. Briggs quickly learned how to advocate for himself and others, and he has carried that passion over into his daily work. Dr. Briggs strives to bring a voice to marginalized students and families. As a principal, he collaborated with staff and families to bring the motto “Every kid, Every day, Whatever it Takes” to the forefront of their school and a mission to live by daily. 

Chayla Edwards is a defender with the NCAA national champion University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team, where she played in all 21 games during the championship campaign. She tallied six assists on the season, including an assist on the game-winning goal against Minnesota in the WCHA Final Faceoff. She recorded 47 blocks including seven in the shutout against Minnesota on Jan. 15, four against Ohio State in the Frozen Four and four against Northeastern in the National Championship game. She also earned WCHA All-Academic honors. From Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Edwards is a six-year player on the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite team and long-time participant of USA development camps, while also competing for her high school, Shady Side Academy. A three-time first-team All-WIHLMA conference player, Edwards helped Shady Side win the WIHLMA championship her freshman and sophomore seasons. Through her first three high school seasons, Edwards totaled 71 points (38 goals, 33 assists) as a defenseman, and she received national recognition on USA Today’s 2017-18 American Family Insurance All-USA Preseason Girls Hockey Team.

Renae Sigall is a branch manager at UW Credit Union, where she serves the community through outreach and financial education. In her current role, she oversees the operations of the corporate branch location of UWCU located on University Ave in Madison. Renae is a Madison transplant, having grown up in Wisconsin Rapids. She holds an associate’s degree in supervisory management from Mid-State Technical College, a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Cardinal Stritch University, and a master’s degree in organizational development from Edgewood College. As an advocate for the credit union movement, Renae has been working in the financial services industry since 1999.

Britt Gottschalk is founder of ReVise Consulting, which she launched last summer. The Madison-based company offers virtual business consulting and partnering, learning and development workshops, talent management assessments, and strategic sourcing and recruitment. Britt says their most popular offering is the Remote Workforce Assessment, which she uses to discover the strengths of workforces and development opportunities to use resources most efficiently when operating in a virtual environment or in a distributed workplace – quite appropriate for the pandemic era workforce. Prior to starting her business, she worked in project management for WPS and Farwell. A native of Milwaukee, she has a master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology and an MBA from Elmhurst University, as well as an undergraduate degree in psychology from UW-Milwaukee.

Evan Reed is senior director of impact investment strategy at Northwestern Mutual, based in Milwaukee, which he just joined in October of this year. He previously served Forward Community Investments as regional director for Southeast Wisconsin, where he oversaw investments intended to reduce social, racial, and economic disparities in Wisconsin Communities, and as senior program officer for equitable economic opportunities at the Milwaukee Community Foundation. He also serves on the board of directors for Milwaukee Area Workforce Funding Alliance. He holds a degree in finance from Marquette University.

Lamont Smith joined The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin as the Milwaukee Program Manager in the spring of 2021. His role will implement conservation and community resiliency efforts to increase urban environmental sustainability. He previously served at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, where his work centered on developing approaches to equity-focused organizational capacity building, public policy advocacy, and cross-sector planning. Lamont’s early professional path included nonprofit sector and project-based consulting experiences. He is an alumnus of UW-Madison and of the La Follette School of Public Affairs. Lamont resides in his hometown, Milwaukee, with his life partner Monica and their two school-age kids.

Devin Hudson is executive director of Silver Springs Neighborhood Center on Milwaukee’s north side. She took the helm in 2019 after five years as development director. She moved to the nonprofit sector after more than 16 years in sales for HeartLove Place, Milwaukee Radio Group and iHeartRadio. She’s also been an active volunteer, helping coordinate an annual event for Local Initiatives Support Coalition, mentoring youth with the YWCA of Greater Milwaukee, and coordinating the food pantry for Central City Churches.

Dr. Reginald Adams is a family medicine doctor for adults and children at Ascension All Saints Hospital in Racine. He joined Ascension nearly seven years ago after a year as medical director for Community Health Systems of Wisconsin and 10 years as a staff physician for Milwaukee Health Services. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Morehouse and doctoral degree at Midwestern University in Illinois.

Lawrence A. Williams is senior regional director of human resources at Charter Communications, based on Madison, managing the company’s relationship with the nearly 4,000 Wisconsin-based employees. Before moving to Madison in 2018, Lawrence was director of human resources in the company’s New York office. He has more than 20 years of experience in human resources and labor relations for a number of companies in Chicago, Washington and New York. He earned a degree in political science from Southern Illinois University and a master’s degree in industrial labor relations from Cornell.

Andre Sayles was sworn in as Beloit’s 19th Police Chief on April 19, 2021. Sayles has an extensive background in community policing. He began his career with the Beloit Police Department in January of 2005, where he served as a sergeant, lieutenant, captain and now chief. During Sayles’ tenure in Beloit, he led the Drug and Gang Investigative Unit, Community Outreach Unit, Defensive and Arrest Tactics Instructors (DAAT), Training Cadre, Mobile Field Force Unit, Tactical Operations Unit, Assessment and Recruitment Team (ART), and revitalized the Explorers program. Sayles is a graduate of Wisconsin Command College Class #6, Leadership in Police Organizations, and is the 2nd Vice President of the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Executive Development Association (WLEEDA). Sayles is also an instructor at Madison College, where he teaches Police and Community Relations, Report Writing, and Interview Techniques. He is also a member of the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association (WCPA), National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), and Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). Sayles holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Iowa Wesleyan University and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in criminal justice, with an emphasis on police leadership. While serving as sergeant of patrol, Sayles was awarded the City of Beloit Hometown Hero award for his efforts in community collaboration. He is a member of the Rock County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and its Evidence Based Decision Making Team; a board member for Beloit Community Health Systems, Stateline Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCA, and Family Services of Southern Wisconsin & Northern Illinois. Chief Sayles also is a speaker for the annual Male Minority Leadership Conference, which is hosted by Rock Valley College.

Laura Ford-Harris is Chief Development Officer at the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County, a role she began in January of 2020. She has more than 25 years of non-profit experience with expertise in community and corporate relationship management and fundraising, according to a press release from BGCDC and for nearly two years, Ford-Harris helped United Way of Greater Cincinnati reach its $50.5M goal by managing the Business Services Portfolio of legal, design and construction firms as a Relationship Manager. Prior to that, Ford-Harris enjoyed a 23-year career at Girl Scouts of Western Ohio, one of the top ten Girl Scout councils in the country.

Ryan Zerwer was appointed President and CEO of Madison-based Forward Community Investments in September 2021. Ryan previously was partner, CEO & president of Clotho Digital for over a decade. He also brings years of real estate investment and tech industry experience to his role at FCI. He currently serves as a board member at Maydm, Inc.


Everett Cunningham is Chief Commercial Officer at Exact Sciences in Madison. Joining the company earlier this year, he  brings over 25 years of progressive responsibility in pharmaceuticals and medical services and a commitment to leadership excellence.  Prior to joining Exact Sciences, Cunningham served as President & CEO of GE Healthcare’s U.S. & Canada region.  Before joining GE, Cunningham served as the Senior Vice President, Commercial, at Quest Diagnostics, where he was responsible for global commercial sales, marketing, and commercial operations. He also served in numerous senior leadership roles at Pfizer, including Regional President, Established Products for Asia Pacific, Senior Director of Worldwide Learning and Development, Senior Director of Business Operations, Vice President Sales for U.S. Pharmaceuticals, and Vice President of Global Corporate Human Resources. He earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Northwestern University.

Dr. Damita Brown is co-executive director of Flywheel Skill Share, formerly known as Dane County Timebank, where she previously served as restorative justice coordinator. Dr. Brown is an accomplished community based educator with a history of abolitionist restorative justice work, leadership, anti-racism and allyship workshop development and facilitation, contemplative practice instruction and project development, implementation and management. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Washington, and a doctoral degree from the University of California-Santa Cruz. She served a post-doctoral fellowship in the political science department at UC-Santa Barbara.







Angela Adams is chief communications and chief diversity officer at Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin, where she previously served as vice president for community relations and director of community relations. Prior to joining Goodwill in 2016, she held similar roles at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, where she led communications and community relations, and chaired the Corporate Services Diversity Strategies Team. She spent 10 years as principal consultant at Mazao Communications, a Milwaukee-based communications and event marketing firm, and two years as executive director of Africa World Festival. She served many years on the board of Professional Dimensions (Women Who Inspire) including a term as board president. She was awarded the 2014 Wisconsin National Guard Partnership Award by Adjutant General Major General Donald P. Dunbar for successfully leading the 1158 Transportation Company Family Readiness Group Program. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Florida A&M and a master’s degree in strategic communications from Seton Hall.

Dr. O’Rell Williams works as a physician and serves as vice president of medical affairs at Ascension St. Joseph on Milwaukee’s north side. As a former Milwaukee firefighter and physician he uses his skills, courage and compassion to improve the health of the community. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit early and hard, Williams became increasingly concerned about the disproportionate number of minority patients battling the virus. He quickly jumped in – using his voice and his role in the community to dispel disinformation and educate the community that COVID-19 was real and serious.

Dana A. Guthrie is Managing Partner at Gateway Capital. Prior to her current role, Guthrie founded and managed Alchemy Angel Investors, an angel investment network focused on early-stage startups. She founded Alchemy Angel Investors while being employed full-time at a Fortune 500 company and managing a multi-million dollar, global product offering. Guthrie is a two-time patent recipient, holds a B.S. in Computer Engineering from Milwaukee School of Engineering, and a M.S. in Energy Engineering from University of Illinois at Chicago.

Tenia Fischer is an educator at Greater Holy Temple Christian Academy, and Director of Health and Wellness for Social X Milwaukee. She also leads FEAR MKE – Forget Everything and Run, a health and wellness program that’s gotten national attention. She was inducted into the UW-Milwaukee Athletic Hall of Fame in 2019 after earning nine Horizon League track and field championships from 2003-2006: she   claimed the top spot on the podium in the Indoor 800 (2006/2005/2004), Outdoor 400 (2006/2003), Indoor 400 (2006) and Indoor and Outdoor 4x400m relay (2006). She also graduated with five school records and set Klotsche Center standards in the 400 and 600 meters.

Janette M. Braverman is Executive Director of External Partnerships at Cardinal Stritch University and the first Black County Board Supervisor for Ozaukee County. She is a Forbes business coach and contributor and the author of “10 Reasons Communication Brings Transformation: Unleash Your Greatness.” She has also published several articles. Braverman’s professional experience includes positions in government, academia and more than 20 years in information technology. She has pivoted seamlessly across industries. Most recently, she served as the dean for the College of Business and Management for Cardinal Stritch University. She was awarded the 2019 NAACP Game Changer Award and the 2018 Milwaukee Business Journal Woman of Influence award for being an inspirational community leader. She is the owner of Leaders Leaving Legacies, LLC.

Letesha Nelson is executive director of Goodman Community Center in Madison, a role she took on at the beginning of 2021. Nelson came to GCC with more than 16 years of experience in nonprofit management, as well as a healthy dose of love for the community. Nelson most recently served as the executive director of Children and Family Enrichment at Idlewild in Memphis, Tennessee. Prior to that, she spent more than a decade in various roles with the Girl Scouts, where she worked her way from a coordinator role up to Chief Operations Officer.

Gabe Doyle is Director of Community Impact – Health at United Way of Dane County. He spent several years working as a licensed counselor and worked at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin as a youth intervention specialist and community health navigation supervisor. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Roosevelt University and master’s from Alverno College, both in psychology.

Theola Carter is Dane County’s manager of policy and program improvement and an adjunct professor of intercultural communications and principles of management. She previously worked at the State of Wisconsin as a housing bureau director and unemployment division program manager. Since 2007, she has served on the Board of Directors at Dane County Credit Union, which is currently navigating a merger with Heartland Credit Union. She is also an actor, performing in numerous community theater productions. She has a degree in history and English from Fisk University and a master’s degree in public administration from UW-Madison.

Kenge Adams is the founder and CEO of Connect Business Consulting. She is an enthusiastic industry leader and entrepreneur with expertise partnering with corporations and community organizations to effectively manage and execute business and community initiatives, programs, and projects. Before launching her business in 2019, she spent five years in progressively responsible roles at Northwestern Mutual; 10 years at Jacksonville, Florida-based IT firm FIS; and four years as a business analyst at Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago. A graduate of UW-Parkside, she also earned a master’s degree in communications from Northwestern.

Kenneth Robertson is Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer at Greater Milwaukee Foundation, overseeing tens of millions of dollars in endowments, grants and donor-advised funds. He functions as an operational bridge looking across all areas of the Foundation to ensure the smooth operations of the Foundation and the integration of its programmatic and operating departments. Before joining GMF in 2015, he spent eight years as VP of Finance at Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee and four years as controller at Briggs & Stratton. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and an MBA, both from UW-Milwaukee.

Jeffrey Norman was sworn in as Milwaukee’s Chief of Police in November 2021. He first joined the department in 1996.  As an officer, Chief Norman served in District 1, District 2, and the Technical Communications Division until his promotion to detective in 2002.  As a detective, he served in the Robbery Division, Violent Crimes Division and Homicide Division until his promotion to lieutenant in 2010.  As a lieutenant, he served in the Property Crimes Division, Metropolitan Division (Robbery Task Force, Homicide Unit and Cold Case Unit) and District 5 as the dayshift commander. Promoted to captain in 2017, he commanded the Inspections Division and District 3.  In 2020 he was promoted to Assistant Chief. Chief Norman holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a Masters of Public Administration degree from Kaplan University, and a Juris Doctor degree from Marquette University Law School. Chief Norman is a graduate of the FBI LEEDA’s Executive and Command Institutes, Southern Police Institute’s Chief Executive Leadership, International Associations of Chiefs of Police’s Leadership in Police Organizations and 68th Session of the Police Executive Research Forum-Senior Management Institute for Police (SMIP) in Boston, MA.

Dineo Dowd is a full-time mom and writer who was born in South Africa but now lives in Madison with her husband and their daughter. For the past 4 years she has been an ambassador for Hike it Baby, a non-profit organization that connects families with babies and young children to the outdoors and each other. As part of this, Dineo spends much of her time outdoors, once hiking 21 miles in 8 hours and she is keen that her daughter spends as much time outside as is possible. Dineo’s other passion is for writing and she currently has two books in circulation. Adventure Day and Sunset Hike are both hiking books for children that are dedicated to nature and were created to inspire children to get out into the fresh air. They both contain exciting and diverse characters that children love. In her free time Dineo loves reading nature books to her daughter, cooking and baking. She enjoys running, camping and hiking whenever the opportunity arises and her ambition is to be able to travel the world, volunteering her time to help the needy and using the experiences she plans to write even more children’s books.

Ken Goodnight is Senior Vice President & Chief Customer Officer at Navitus. He brought over 15 years of experience in designing and implementing customer care strategies. At Navitus, he is responsible for creating customer strategies to ensure the company delivers superior service to our clients and their members. He also provides strategic direction and oversight to the call center, member experience division and government programs. Ken has helped organizations reach best-in-class standards for service delivery and operational efficiency through high employee engagement. Prior to joining Navitus, he served as the principal of PinnacleCX, a consulting firm that assists organizations in solving critical customer service and operational challenges. Ken has held executive roles in health care, pharmacy benefit management, consumer credit, and travel and entertainment, including leading customer service and Medicare Part D operations at CVS Health and Express Scripts. With a focus on giving back to both the business and local communities, Ken has served as the Board Chair of his local United Way and as a key presenter on customer centricity at the CCNG Executive Leadership Council. Ken holds an undergraduate degree in business administration and organizational development from Colorado State University.

Fiesha Lynn Bell is associate director of major gifts at Greater Milwaukee Foundation, the first to hold that position.  Through her work in managing strategic initiatives within the Foundation’s comprehensive campaign, she not only seeks to grow assets but bring people closer to ultimately achieve an inclusive and equitable Milwaukee region. Fiesha Lynn is originally from Indianapolis, earning a bachelor’s degree in Business and Cross Linguistics from Indiana University. She received her Certification for Leadership Training from the African American Leadership Program, an alumnus of the Forward48 Civic Leadership Program, and 2021 Milwaukee Business Journal 40 Under 40 recipient.

Dr. Shon F. Barnes was named Madison Police Department’s Chief of Police in February of 2021. Chief Barnes is a nationally recognized leader in crime reduction and community-police relations. He was previously the Director of Training and Professional Development for the Civilian Office of Police Accountability in Chicago, Illinois. Chief Barnes was the Deputy Chief of Police in Salisbury, North Carolina (2017-2020) and a Captain with the Greensboro Police Department (NC) where he began his career as a patrol officer in the fall of 2000. Chief Barnes was honored as a National Institute of Justice, LEADS Scholar, for using innovative technology to reduce crime and is a council member on the National Police Foundation’s Council on Policing Reforms and Race. The council is a nonpartisan initiative which uses research and evidence to consider and offer recommendations to resolve some of the most pressing issues regarding police reform. Throughout his career Chief Barnes has implemented Neighborhood Oriented Policing which focuses on smaller police beat response, police neighborhood ownership, and community engagement at levels within the organization. Chief Barnes attended Elizabeth City State University (Elizabeth City, North Carolina) where he received a B.A. Degree in History/Pre-Law, and the University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio) where he received a master’s degree in Criminal Justice. He has earned a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (Greensboro, North Carolina).

Jacquelyn L. Boggess, J.D., is executive director of the Center for Family Policy and Practice, where she has worked since its inception in 1995. She is also a member of the Nina Collective Consulting Cooperative, offering racial equity consulting to businesses and organizations. Her work as a policy analyst involves the investigation of the welfare system, the family law courts, and the child support system. Her particular interest lies in the interrelations among these systems, and how the social welfare policy and practice that result from this relationship affect low-income fathers, mothers, and children. Additionally, Ms. Boggess has concentrated on the question of the impact of government initiated “family formation” and father involvement policy on the safety and well-being of women and children. Ms. Boggess has a particular interest in the impact of non-resident father involvement on mothers and children. Her work in this regard has resulted in connections and collaborations with domestic violence organizations and progressive advocacy groups working on poverty reduction, violence prevention, and economic justice for parents and children. Ms. Boggess is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School.

Dr. Elton J. Crim, Jr. is a clinical professor of higher education in the Department of Educational Leadership at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a member of the Madison College District Board since July 2017. Crim resides in Fitchburg. He has served on many university committees and is currently an advisor for the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association, the Returning Adult Student Award Committee, and the Department of Education Leadership and Policy Program Review Committee. Crim earned a doctorate in higher education and policy from Pennsylvania State University, a master of science in public service management from DePaul University, and a bachelor of science in biology from DePaul.

Danielle Bly is vice president of supplier diversity at WEC Energy Group, where she is responsible for fostering corporate relationships with suppliers and contractors, area businesses, and local government. In addition to this Danielle works in the community facilitating proactive, mutually-beneficial relationships with business advocacy groups and women- and minority-owned and – operated businesses. Prior to this she was director of credit and collections where she was responsible for the overall strategy and operations of credit and collections functions for WEC Energy Group which included remittance processing, revenue protection, field services, and low income/medical condition. Danielle has been with We Energies/WEC Energy Group for 20 years and has held a variety of positions in customer service, human resources, supply chain, and wholesale energy and fuels. The positions she has held have included management trainee, training and development consultant, senior settlement analyst, commodity portfolio manager, and manager of customer care centers. She serves on the boards of directors of the Milwaukee Urban League, the Wisconsin Energy Workforce Consortium, and Black Arts MKE and on the advisory council for Milwaukee Film-Black Lens. In 2014, Danielle was acknowledged as a Woman of InfluenceCommunity Supporter by the Milwaukee Business Journal and in  February 2020 was honored with the Bridge BuildHer award from The PowHer Network. A native of Milwaukee, Danielle received a B.B.A. with emphasis in human resources from the University of WisconsinWhitewater.

Bobbie Kelsey is Commissioner of Academics and Athletics at Milwaukee Public Schools, a role she has held for two years. She was previously an assistant coach with the LA Sparks in the WNBA and head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers women’s basketball team. During her basketball playing career, Kelsey’s Stanford Cardinal squad captured the 1992 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship. A two-time co-captain at Stanford, she played in 105 games – earning 15 starts – despite bookending her college career with devastating ACL injuries. Kelsey was named the team’s Most Inspirational Player in 1992 and 1996, and captured the Most Improved Player award in 1993. Following her playing days, Kelsey immediately launched her coaching career, and worked as an assistant coach from 1996-2011 for Boise State, Vanderbilt, Florida, Evansville, Western Carolina, Virginia Tech, and her alma mater Stanford before taking the helm at Wisconsin, where she spent five seasons. 

Jenise Terrell is vice president of programs at Public Allies, Inc, in Miwaukee, where she has worked for more than 24 years, first as director of resource development and later as senior director of strategy and development before being promoted to VP in 2016. She has played a central role in developing two groundbreaking national programs with funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service’s (CNCS’) VISTA Program: DREAMCorps, the first national service program to welcome DREAMers (undocumented young adults with deferred immigration status), and a collaborative, multi-city venture with the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance that will build career and education pathways for Men of Color. In both cases, Jenise’s expertise and vision have enabled Public Allies to quickly execute critical national partnerships and to move stakeholders from concept to product to upcoming program launch. Jenise is a native Milwaukeean, proud Public Allies alumna, and a working mother of two beautiful children. She regularly volunteers grant-writing support to small Milwaukee community-based organizations. Jenise holds a Bachelor’s degree in business administration from Marquette University, and has published urban history research on Milwaukee’s African American community. 

Dr. Tremayne Clardy is Superintendent of Schools for the Verona Area School District. Dr. Clardy comes to VASD with 22 years of experience in K-12 education. Leading up to his previous stint overseeing the operation of 32 elementary schools in the Madison Metropolitan School District, he served at varying levels of school administration and teaching. Dr. Clardy received his Ed.D. and MA from Aurora University and his MS and BS in Education from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Dr. David Pate is an associate professor and chair of the social work department at UW-Milwaukee. He is an expert on low income African-American men, fatherhood, and child support. Dr. Pate studies how black men are affected by the social welfare system and the challenges that impede their ability to attain economic security. His research projects involve the use of qualitative research methods to examine life course events of African-American men and boys. He earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Detroit in 1980, a master’s degree from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a doctoral degree in social welfare from UW-Madison in 2003.

Donnel Thompson is director of national accounts at Direct Supply’s Skilled Nursing Corporate Division. Based in Milwaukee, Donnel leads the company’s efforts to maintain and expand relationships with large, multi-location customers in the senior living industry. Donnel recruits, develops and leads a team of top National Account Managers and Corporate Account Managers. He got into the sales business after three seasons in the NFL – one with the Indianapolis Colts and two with the Pittsburgh Steelers – and four years as a Badger with the University of Wisconsin, where he earned a degree in 2000.

Who did we miss? Send us your suggestions for next year’s list at [email protected]!