Wisconsin’s 51 Most Influential Black Leaders for 2023, Part 4


    This is the fourth of a five-part series. Part One is here, Part Two is here and Part Three is here.

    Chakla Davis is Executive HR Leader of Global Strategy and Technology and Global Operation at Plexus Corporation, a global manufacturing company based in Neenah with 25,000 employees worldwide. She joined Plexus earlier this year after spending most of her career in various human resources roles at Kimberly-Clark. She started her career with Shaw Industries in Georgia after graduating from Clemson University. She later earned a master’s degree in management from Southern Wesleyan University.

    Judge Mario White was appointed to the Dane County Circuit Court bench in 2020 by Governor Tony Evers. He handles both criminal and civil cases. Prior to being appointed to the bench, Mario was a Dane County Circuit Commissioner. In that role, he presided over an array of cases, including small claims, family law and criminal law. Before that, Mario was an Assistant State Public Defender. The Wisconsin Law Journal named him a 2017 Leader in the Law. White has been on the faculty of the National Criminal Defense College in Bristol, Rhode Island and teaches at the Wisconsin Public Defender Trial Skills Academy. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 2008, Judge White became an adjunct professor, coaching mock trial. A 2005 graduate of Oklahoma State University, Judge White was named a 2018 OSU Outstanding Alum by the Oklahoma State University College of Arts and Sciences.

    Latoya Holiday currently serves as the executive director of the Multicultural Student Achievement Network (MSAN) at UW Madison’s Wisconsin Center for Education Research. MSAN is a national network of school districts working and learning together to eliminate racial disparities in schools. Latoya has spent her entire career in education working and advocating for equity and change to ensure success for all students, especially for students of color.  Latoya spent many years of her career working at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction in various roles including school administration consultant and federal grant project director. Latoya has had the pleasure of serving as an executive cabinet member and Special Assistant for two Wisconsin State Superintendents including Wisconsin’s first black state superintendent–Ms. Carolyn Standford Taylor.  Latoya has also served as associate director of the Office of Educational Opportunity at UW System and Chief of Staff for One City Schools.  Latoya provides service to the Sun Prairie community as an elected member and Vice President of the Sun Prairie Board of Education.  Latoya attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Wisconsin-Madison earning degrees in English and Educational Policy.

    Elmer Moore, Jr. is CEO of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Agency, appointed by Gov. Tony Evers in April 2022. Moore previously served as the executive director of Scale Up Milwaukee for the Greater Milwaukee Committee. He has a proven track record in creating public-private partnerships and innovative programs that support business development and job creation resulting in over 1,400 jobs created for more than 200 Wisconsin organizations and securing more than $60 million in new capital investments. He has also secured national foundation funding that provides programming for entrepreneurship growth and resources to address the racial wealth gap. Mr. Moore has a bachelor’s degree from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and a master’s degree in business administration from Columbia Business School in New York, New York. Mr. Moore also serves as chairman of the board for the WHEDA Foundation, member of the Community Investment Advisory Council of the FHLBank of Chicago, chairman of the board for the Social Development Commission, board member for the Harbor District, and adjunct instructor for Marquette University and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, instructing students on entrepreneurship.

    Tracy Anderson is community outreach and volunteer recruitment coordinator at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County. She joined the nonprofit in 2022 intent on rebuilding the corps of volunteers willing to mentor young people in Dane County after the COVID pandemic severely reduced its numbers. She came to BBBS after a career in media, both as an on-air personality on 93.1 Jamz, a marketing representative for Mid-West Family Broadcasting and business manager at Umoja Magazine. She is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago.

    Nick Truog is the political director for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. Since taking the role in 2020, Truog has overseen multi-million dollar programming that has helped elect Governor Tony Evers, Justice Janet Protasiewicz, numerous mayors, and over 200 democrats across Wisconsin. His work has been critical to help build long-term presence and relationships in underrepresented communities through its Coalitions program. Truog has previously served as a Senior Political Advisor for Mandela Barnes US Senate Race, on Congresswoman Gwen Moore’s staff, and is currently the President of the Greater Milwaukee Urban League Young Professionals. He is also a national award-winning brother and leader of Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity, the largest Latino Based Fraternity with multicultural membership.

    Margo Franklin is Chief Human Resources Officer for Milwaukee County and its 4,000 employees. County Executive David Crowley appointed her to that role in the spring of 2020 after she had been director of employee relations for two years. She joined the County in 2018 after a long career in human resources, working for Visteon Corporation, Medical College of Wisconsin, Kohl’s and Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin. She is a graduate of the University of William & Mary and holds numerous human resources certifications.

    Shakita LaGrant-McClain oversees all service areas within Milwaukee County’s largest department, Health and Human Services (DHHS), encompassing Aging and Disabilities Services, Behavioral Health Services, Housing Services, Management Services, and Veterans’ Services, with a $400 million budget, over 700 employees, DHHS serves more than 95,000 residents annually. She’s implemented a No Wrong Door model of customer service, serving Milwaukee County residents across their lifespan regardless of race, gender, age, or socio-economic status. LaGrant-McClain is dedicated to maximizing organizational performance and leveraging DHHS to influence the human services ecosystem, positively impacting social determinants of health and addressing health disparities. She invests in staff training and development, delivering high quality customer service, and transforming human service delivery to a person-centered approach. LaGrant-McClain is a compassionate and committed community leader who leads by example drawing from personal experience. She serves as an adjunct instructor at Mount Mary University. LaGrant-McClain was recognized as a “Disruptor” by the Women’s Fund of Greater Milwaukee, a “Notable BIPOC Executive” by the BizTimes Milwaukee, and named a “Woman of Influence” by The Milwaukee Business Journal. LaGrant-McClain earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Mount Mary University, and a Master of Business Administration from Mount Mary University.

    Shawn Anthony Robinson, Ph.D, is a social entrepreneur, co-founder of the award-winning graphic novel Doctor Dyslexia Dude, a research affiliate with the Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory (Wei LAB) at the University of Wisconsin Madison, served on the advisory council of Benetech, and a former Board member with the International Dyslexia Association. Robinson has received several distinguished honors throughout his early career such as: an honoree of The Reading Center’s 4th Hall of Fame class (2023), the 2022 Wisconsin Innovation Award (with his wife – Dr. Inshirah Robinson); the 2017 Alumni Achievement Award/New Trier High School Alumni Hall of Honor; the 2016 Outstanding Young Alumni Award from UWO; “Educator of the Year” from All-State Insurance (Chicago) 2005. Robinson is also a Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Despite being unable to read until the age of 18, he earned his Ph.D. in language and literacy from Cardinal Stritch University.

    Afra Smith is manager of diversity, equity and inclusion at UW Health, a role she took on in October after three years as a DEI consultant with UW Health and the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health. She is also founder and CEO of The Melanin Project, which aims to eradicate wealth disparities for women of the Black and African diaspora through programs that support building generational wealth through advocacy, personal empowerment, and financial wellness coaching. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. 

    Part Five coming tomorrow!