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Wisconsin’s 52 Most Influential Black Leaders 2022

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Just months after we published our first news stories in August 2015, we tried something new: we listed and published brief biographies of the state’s 28 Most Influential Black Leaders. People really liked it, shared it on social media, told us who else should have been on that list. Many asked me if we’d do another list the next year; I said yes, we probably would. Good luck, they said … you’re going to run out of names.

Today, we publish the first installment of our eighth annual list of Wisconsin’s Most Influential Black leaders. You may have noticed … there’s a lot more than 28. In fact, we received more than 200 nominations for this year’s list. Clearly, there are many, many Black leaders doing real work in our communities.

And that’s what this list is all about. introducing you to those people you may not know. 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 Black communty. 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. It’s obvious just from the number of nominations that there are far more than 52 influential Black 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 sure everyone here can thrive.

Henry Sanders
CEO and Publisher
Madison365

Cainan Davenport, also known as K the Barber, is the co-owner of Taperz, a family-oriented barbershop in Appleton. He is also founder of People of Progression, an organization working to bridge the gap of racial inequities. The organization works for the collective liberation of African Americans by empowering families with the tools, training, and supportive resources. They have also hosted a number of community-building events and COVID vaccine clinics.

Michelle Hendrix-Nora is principal of McNeel Intermediate School in Beloit. In 2018, responding to data showing alarming African American achievement and behavior disparities, she helped create the Lancer H.E.A.R.T.S (Helping Educate At-Risk Teenage Students) mentoring program. That effort, among others, earned her a YWCA Racial Justice Award in 2021. 

Willie Jude is vice chancellor for advancement at UW-Parkside, a role he took on in March 2021. Before coming to Kenosha, he served as vice president for student affairs and associate vice president for institutional advancement at Fisk University. In previous roles as executive director of philanthropy at Lincoln University and as associate athletics director for advancement at North Carolina Central University, Jude led staff, volunteers and the campus community in raising funds and creating partnerships to advance student success. He is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, and holds a bachelor of science from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and a master of education from Washington State University.

Angela Fitzgerald Ward is the host of Wisconsin Life on PBS Wisconsin, as well as the limited series Why Race Matters. In addition to her work hosting the television series, Angela is the Associate Dean for the School of Academic Advancement at Madison College. Previously she worked as Director of Family, Youth & Community Engagement for the Madison Metropolitan School District. She is also pursuing her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is studying the intersection between education, organizing, and research as it relates to improving outcomes for historically marginalized groups. 

Will Green is the executive director of Mentoring Positives, an organization he cofounded in 2004 to provide opportunities and support for young people in Madison’s Darbo-Worthington neighborhood. Through their Off the Block program, they provide food service job training and experience and raise funds for additional programming. He is also head coach of the Madison La Follette High School girls’ basketball program and previously served as director of the Darbo Salvation Army Community Center. He played college basketball at UW-Eau Claire, where he was named team MVP.

David Bowles is president of Milwaukee-based CMRIgnite, one of the nation’s leading minority-owned social impact and cause marketing agencies. He’s worked his way up to the top over the course of 12 years, after joining the company in 2010 as director of business development. He attended Columbia University in New York, where he was president of the Chi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi fraternity.

Jakeim Jackson-Bell is the first person to lead Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at the Milwaukee Bucks as the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Outreach Manager. Prior to joining the Milwaukee Bucks, Jakeim worked in Human Resources for the Atlanta Hawks, Samsung Electronics, Parkland Hospital, and American Airlines. He is a People & Culture Game Changer who has been proactive in driving the importance of mental health & authenticty, mentoring youth, developing robust programs to reduce employment barriers, and building diverse talent pipelines to provide opportunities for women, people of color, Veterans, and individuals with disabilities.  In 2020 Jakeim made HBCU Buzz’s Top 30 Under 30 list and was inducted into 100 Black Men of Greater Milwaukee in 2021. Jakeim serves in numerous leadership roles in Milwaukee such as Employ Milwaukee Board of Directors, Independence First Board of Directors, Black Sports Professionals – Milwaukee Chapter Co-Vice President, Milwaukee County Business Advisory Council, Diversity Leadership Society – United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha, and Marquette University CMHC-CRC Advisory Board. He earned his BBA in Human Resource Management from The University of Texas at San Antonio and his MBA from Texas Southern University.

Supreme Moore Omokunde represents Milwaukee’s north side in the State Assembly. He was first elected to the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors in 2015, and re-elected in 2016 and 2018. He was first elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in November 2020. Supreme Moore Omokunde has received training in community leadership through the national AmeriCorps program, Public Allies, the Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, Riverwest Neighborhood Association, and served on the board of directors for TRUE Skool. Prior to joining the Milwaukee County Board, he served as the community organizer for the Sherman Park Community Association where he worked with block clubs, established the Friends of Sherman Park group and helped to formulate a Neighborhood Improvement District. He is the son of Rev. Dr. Tolokun Omokunde and Congresswoman Gwen Moore.

Dr. Danyelle Wright is in her third year at Cottage Grove School as Building Principal with prior administrative experience with the Madison Metropolitan School District. She received her Ph.D from UW Madison in the Education Leadership Policy Analysis (ELPA) department in May of 2022. Dr. Wright has been in the field of education for over 12 years as an educational assistant, teacher, teacher leader, dean, assistant principal and principal. She also has experience in higher education and was an adjunct professor at Edgewood College in Madison. Dr. Wright is dedicated to the field of education and desires to not only be a leader within the field of education but desires to empower other women and women of color to get into education and leadership roles.

Ali Muldrow is president of the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education and co-executive director of GSAFE, an organization that supports LGBTQ+ students in Madison schools. First elected to the school board in 2019, she helped guide the district through the COVID-19 pandemic and the hiring of a new superintendent. She developed the curriculum for and facilitated Foundations of Leadership, a course based on the experiences of LGBTQ+ youth of color that helps Madison high school students develop their capacities as leaders and earn Advanced Learning credit. In the spring of 2015, she launched GSAFE’s New Narrative Project in the Dane County Juvenile Detention Center, to provide incarcerated young people with clear channels to academic success, civic engagement, and self-determination.

Dr. Brian Burt is director of Wisconsin Equity and Inclusion Laboratory. The lab’s mission is to design, conduct, and disseminate research that informs policymakers, practitioners, and concerned citizens on how to best promote equitable and inclusive environments in education. His current research falls into two strands: understanding team-based research experiences, and exploring the experiences of underrepresented graduate students of color in engineering. Through his work, Dr. Burt seeks to provide new ways to understand science participation and the experiences that might attract students to or turn them away from science pathways. Dr. Burt received the National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship and National Science Foundation’s Early CAREER Award. He earned his PhD in 2014 at the University of Michigan.

Kyree Brooks is associate Principal of Central Heights Middle School in Sun Prairie. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Health and Performance from UW-Whitewater, a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education from UW-Madison, and will begin his doctoral studies at UW-Madison in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis this fall. Previously, he served as a Dean of Students at Cardinal Heights Upper Middle School. Before his work in Sun Prairie, Brooks served as Coordinator of Student Engagement and Positive Behavior in the Madison Metropolitan School District and worked as a special education teacher in previous years. He is also a DJ, performing as DJ Ree Maniac.

Dr. Laurie Carter is president of Lawrence University, the first Black president in the university’s 175-year history. Dr.Carter came to Lawrence after serving as president of Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, since 2017. Prior to assuming the presidency of Shippensburg, Carter served as executive vice president and university counsel for Eastern Kentucky University, where she provided leadership to 33 departments and oversaw a budget in excess of $71 million. She also has extensive leadership experience in the performing arts, holding various inaugural leadership positions during her 25 years of service at The Juilliard School, considered the nation’s premiere performing arts college. She was Juilliard’s first African American administrator and taught on the liberal arts and graduate faculty. She developed the institution’s student affairs program, initiated diversity initiatives, created the Office of the General Counsel, and co-created the Jazz Studies program. Carter attended Clarion University of Pennsylvania where she received a bachelor of science degree in communications. She received her master of arts degree in communications from William Paterson College and earned her JD degree from Rutgers University. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Snow College and is a member of the Clarion University Athletics Hall of Fame, in recognition of her outstanding undergraduate career in track and field.

Regina Hendrix is director of Help Yourself Programs at Beloit College, which is dedicated to preparing local youth to be successful in school and preparing students to attend a four-year institution of higher education. She joined the program in 2012 and has worked her way to the top over the past 10 years. In 2014, she became the first Black woman on the Beloit City Council, where she served until 2017. 

Kimyatta Ratliff is president and CEO of ColorBold Business Association, an organization that supports aspiring and established entrepreneurs or nonprofit leaders of color in Northeast Wisconsin. She is also a licensed cosmetologist and owner of Universal Designs Salon, and passes on her knowledge through Universal Designs Education. She is an ordained minister and leads the Next Level Champions youth ministry. She previously served as president of the Northeast Wisconsin African American Association and a member of the board of the Multicultural Center of Greater Green Bay. She earned her degree in business administration from Paine college in Augusta, Georgia.

Shaundel Spivey is cofounder and executive director of Black Leaders Acquiring Collective Knowledge – BLACK – in La Crosse, an organization he and some college friends launched in 2013 to empower and elevate Black people in the area. He is also a member of the La Crosse School District Board of Education. He has worked in a variety of educational settings, including as cultural liaison for the La Crosse School District, College Connections Manager at Western Technical College and director of the Upward Bound program at UW-L. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from UW-La Crosse, most recently graduating with a master’s degree in education in 2015. He expects to finish his doctorate next year. 

Marcus Sedberry is deputy athletic director at the University of Wisconsin, where he oversees internal operations for the athletic department. He works to create an environment that provides opportunities for student-athletes to continually grow and elevate their lives. This includes oversight of all the areas that are part of Forward 360 as well as facilities, event and guest services and sport administration for a number of our programs. Marcus came to Wisconsin after spending almost five years at Baylor University as a senior associate athletics director. He joined Baylor’s staff in May of 2017 and played a critical role in reshaping the strategic direction of the athletics department. His experience at Baylor also included assisting in university fundraising efforts, diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, sport-specific capital projects, and human resource processes. Prior to his time at Baylor, Sedberry spent time at UCF, Arkansas and the Philadelphia Eagles. He was a track and field student-athlete at the University of Nebraska.

Derek Mosley is director of Marquette University Law School’s Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education. He will formally begin that role next month after 20 years on the bench; he was appointed Municipal Court Judge in 2002 following a seven-year career as an assistant district attorney for Milwaukee County. At the time of his appointment, he was the youngest African American to be appointed judge in the State of Wisconsin. As an assistant district attorney, Mosley represented the State of Wisconsin in more than 1,000 criminal prosecutions and helped found the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Community Prosecution Unit. This unit places assistant district attorneys in neighborhoods throughout the City of Milwaukee to work with residents to reduce urban blight and to improve the quality of life. As the head of this unit, he helped to establish after-school programs, develop a Second Chance Felony Employment Initiative for offenders, close 100 drug houses and nuisance properties, and start a police and citizen crime fighting initiative, which targeted street drug dealing. This initiative, called “Operation Streetsweeper,” was awarded the Law Enforcement Honor Award by the United States Department of Justice. Mosley sits on the Board of Directors of several organizations, including Froedtert Hospital, the Urban Ecology Center, the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee, Safe and Sound, Divine Savior Holy Angels High School, the United Way Diversity Leadership Committee, and TransCenter for Youth, a longtime operator of small high schools in Milwaukee. He has been a lecturer at both Marquette Law School and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and he sits on the Supreme Court of Wisconsin’s Judicial Education Committee. He earned his law degree from Marquette in 1995.

Krystal Hardy is manager of multicultural marketing for the Milwaukee Brewers, where she works to ensure a diverse fan base feels comfortable and welcome at American Family Field. She manages the club’s community nights, which include Pride Night, Negro Leagues Tribute Night and Cerveceros Night, which celebrates the Latino community. She also manages Kids Crew memberships. A Milwaukee native, she has also worked as an independent brand strategist and journalist and was marketing director for the Milwaukee Short Film Festival for nearly five years. She is co-vice president of the Milwaukee chapter of The National Society of Black Sports Professionals.

Gigi Stahl is the equity, diversity and inclusion program specialist at the Stevens Point Area Public School District, where she provides training and resources to teachers on how to have conversations about social issues related to race, sexual identity or other identities. She also provides intervention and support to students in a more traditional school counselor role. She earned her bachelor’s degree from UW-Stevens Point and a master’s in social work from Western Michigan before taking on the newly-created EDI role in 2021.

Kirbie Mack is a longtime leader in Madison’s Black community, and no single job title can capture all that she’s contributed over the decades. Professionally, she served for 36 years in both state and local governments. She was appointed by Governor Jim Doyle and served for two terms as the Administrator of the Division of Enterprise Services, where she managed the department’s finance, budget, human resources and facilities management. Prior to this position she was appointed and served as the City of Madison’s Affirmative Action Director, overseeing contract compliance, affirmative action and disability rights, under three mayors. She also held various other state and city positions before retiring in 2011. Ms. Mack was the Co-Host and Producer of “Focus on Equality” CityCable 12 – Access to City Government for six years. Mack earned her Masters degree in Policy Affairs and Public Administration at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received her BA in Psychology from Northeastern University in Chicago. In addition, she is certified in Employment Law, Labor Arbitration, Labor/Management Relations and Affirmative Action. Mack was appointed by the State Legislature to the Legislative Council’s Special Commission on Employment of Vietnam and Other Veterans. She was appointed by Governor Earl to the Affirmative Action Commission and by Mayor Soglin to the Rev. Dr. MLK, Jr. Humanitarian Awards Committee, the City’s Strategic Management Team and the City’s Guidance Team on Organization Strength Effectiveness and Financial Position. She has served on the boards of many other community organizations.

Dr. Shakkiah Curtis is manager of member growth and engagement at Milwaukee Tech Hub Coalition, a partnership of 115 organizations in southeast Wisconsin focused on inclusively doubling tech talent in the region in order to create enduring economic prosperity and create life changing opportunities. Before taking that role in July, she was director of the 1915 Studios, a free accelerator for early-stage technology startups. She also runs her own business coaching and training firm. Curtis graduated from Tennessee State University and earned a doctoral degree in Business Administration from Alverno College. She has cultivated many entrepreneurial ventures in fashion, business, and education, and her work experience includes teaching in higher academia, business development, corporate training and instructional design. 

Lachrisa Grandberry is a Milwaukee-born playwright, performer, lyricist and composer with Northern Sky Theater in Door County. She is the co-writer and co-composer of Sunflowered, a new musical that made its world debut at Northern Sky earlier this year. Performance credits include As You Like It with Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, She the People at The Second City, and many roles with Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Skylight Music Theatre, Next Act Theatre, Renaissance Theaterworks, Theatre LILA, Forward Theatre Company, First Stage, Black Arts Milwaukee and Children’s Theatre Madison. She appeared in the Freeform movie The Thing About Harry (Freeform) and on the NBC series Chicago PD. She earned her BFA in Theatre at Wisconsin Lutheran College. 

Michael Louis Vinson is sales director at Schreiber Foods in Green Bay, with responsibility for leading a key segment of its U.S. foodservice business. At Schreiber, Michael was founding chair of the PRIDE business resource group, has served on the steering committee for the African-American Dairy Professionals business resource group and sat on the Diversity and Inclusion Council, led by Schreiber’s President & CEO. Michael previously chaired Schreiber’s Global Inclusion Team and served on the Advisory Board of Schreiber’s Network of Women Business Leaders. He is currently Board Chair at Wisconsin Watch (Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism) and Vice Chair of the board of directors at Arts Midwest, which serves a nine-state region in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. In January 2021, Michael was appointed to serve on the Equal Rights Commission for the City of Green Bay. Michael also served as board chair of Fair Wisconsin, Inc., the state’s leading advocacy organization for the LGBTQ community. A former journalist, Michael holds a Master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University, where he was a McCormick Scholar, and earned his bachelor’s degree in government at Harvard University, where he was a Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholar.

Adey Assefa is economic inclusion manager at the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, where she works to help the region and its businesses reimagine its workforce systems for a better, more inclusive and more equitable future. Prior to taking on that role in June 2020, Assefa worked at UW-Madison within various programs including the development of the RISE program, directing the African American Student Academic Services office, advising the First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts scholarship program and directing the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives. She received her bachelor’s in social welfare and her master’s in counseling from UW-Madison and grew up in the Eagle Heights neighborhood.

David Polk is director of the Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards at the Department of Workforce Development, a role he assumed in January 2022 after 20 years leading a variety of apprenticeship programs. His own career began when he completed a five-year apprenticeship program in 2001 with Plumbers’ Local 75 in Milwaukee and worked several years as a licensed plumber. He then worked in the trades as a meter technician and plumbing inspector before focusing on the training program aspect to help more people become aware of and build careers through apprenticeships. He most recently served as director of Apprenticeship and Trade at Milwaukee Area Technical College, which included managing more than 30 different Milwaukee-area apprenticeships and implementing six new sector apprenticeships, including the first-ever arborist apprenticeship program in the U.S.

Jaimes Johnson is director of community partnerships at UW Credit Union, where he’s worked since 2008. In this role, he’s developed strong relationships with numerous civic organizations – seeking ways to bridge social, racial and economic disparities. An early leader in UW Credit Union’s DEI efforts, Jaimes’ work originally focused on the Madison area and is now concentrated on Milwaukee. A veteran banking leader, he is particularly passionate about empowering underrepresented communities with skills that lead to financial success. He was a long-serving member of the Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy and has helped develop financial education programs that benefit schools, organizations and communities. He has served as UWCU’s representative on numerous boards and committees, including the United Way Affordable Housing Fund, the MDC Workforce Housing Committee, the BankOn Greater Milwaukee Committee, the FCI Board, the UW Center for Cooperatives and the UW Center on Business and Poverty.

Rob Franklin, better known as Rob Dz, is a hip-hop artist and music community organizer. Professionally, he is the Media Projects Bubblerarian (which he calls “a creative way to say that I am a digital media instructor”) for the Madison Public Library. As a Kennedy Center certified teaching artist for the Making Justice program, his primary focus is on creating workshops on Hip Hop, Spoken Word and Personal Branding as positive forms of self-expression. Rob has held residencies with Madison youth in elementary, middle, and high schools, community centers, the Dane County Juvenile Detention Center and Juvenile Shelter Home, Neighborhood Intervention Program, Madison Jazz Consortium and with The Black Star Drum Line. As a musician, he has performed with the likes of Nas, Eminem, Common, Talib Kweli, Dead Prez and others. In 2017, he was inducted to the American Folklife Center at the Library Of Congress and The National Museum of African American History and Culture as a member of The Story Corps program. He is also the lead organizer of the Mad Lit free concert series.

Alan Branch is the inaugural Vice President of Workforce Development for Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County. He brings 25 years of experience in manufacturing, packaging and printing Trades and has worked in partnership with major corporations and non-profits to advance mutual philanthropic interests. Alan will lead the new McKenzie Regional Workforce Center and oversee dozens of employees and educational and community partners to provide young adults careers in trades like plumbing and construction, in addition to entrepreneurship training. Alan graduated from Central State University with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Technology. 

Dr. Denita Ball is sheriff of Milwaukee County. She was appointed to the post earlier this year and won election to a full term in November. Ball began her law enforcement career with the Milwaukee Police Department, spending over 25 years rising through the ranks to deputy inspector. In 2011, she retired from the police force to pursue opportunities in higher education, where she helped shape the next generation of police officers and criminal justice professionals, according to a press release from the governor’s office. This included her work as an instructor, subject area coordinator, and finally, the criminal justice program director at Bryant & Stratton College and an adjunct faculty instructor at Cardinal Stritch University. Additionally, Ball continued her studies during this time, earning a Ph.D. from Cardinal Stritch University in 2018.

Nikki Purvis is CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce, appointed by the board of directors in August of this year. She has more than 20 years of public and private sector leadership experience, most recently serving as the City of Milwaukee’s inaugural Chief Equity Officer, overseeing the Office of Equity and Inclusion. In this role, she led the City’s racial equity efforts, which included identifying system-wide programs and initiatives and policy considerations to address racially equitable outcomes, accessibility concerns, and equal rights for protected classes. She also provided strategic direction and oversight for the City’s Small Business Enterprise business inclusion program, which promotes economic development for small, disadvantaged businesses. Purvis is a native Milwaukeean and alumna of Riverside University High School, Marquette University, and Cardinal Stritch University. In addition, she received certificates of completion from Cardinal Stritch University, Morgan State University, and John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Executive Education.

Stephon Kiba Freeman is a spray paint artist based in Stevens Point. A Chicago native who landed in Point in 2009, Freeman has painted a number of prominent murals around the state, including a major project on the Worzalla building in Stevens Point as part of the Paint the County initiative. His work is inspired and informed by his family, and the recurring motif of a young girl’s silhouette is his image of his daughter and her future. You can also see murals in Milwaukee at the Black Cat Alley, in Plover at the Hostel Shoppe bike store, and back in Stevens Point in the waiting room at Five Rings Martial Arts studio, where he also happens to train as a third-degree black belt in Taekwondo. His work is available at a number of arts events and retailers around the state. He earned a BFA in fine and studio arts from UW-Stevens Point in 2014.

Kurt Rose is director of human resources operations for Madison Metropolitan School District, one of the largest employers in Dane County. Before taking on that role in June 2022, he was interim human resources director for the University of Wisconsin’s School of Education, where he had worked since 2018 in a variety of roles with increasing levels of responsibility. He is president of Urban League of Greater Madison Young Professionals, which has dramatically increased its membership over the last few years. Kurt also serves on the board of directors of Madison Ballet.

Chad Miller is general manager and owner of Gallagher’s Pizza, with locations in Green Bay and DePere. For the last two years, the Green Bay location has hosted a free nontraditional community Thanksgiving dinner. He is also a basketball coach for Team 1848.

Miriam Brabham is multicultural student services manager for the Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs (MESA) Office at the UW-Green Bay. She advises students on all aspects of their college experience such as classes, scheduling, studying, balancing life, and more. She also advises the student organization Women of Color and Black Student Union. 

Dr. Christina Outlay is executive director of Maydm, a nonprofit organization that prepares young people, especially students of color and girls, for careers in STEM. Dr. Outlay was an Associate Professor of Information Technology at UW-Whitewater and also the founder and director of colorcoded, an organization whose mission to fill the Information Technology (IT) career pipeline with more women and people of color lines up very well with Maydm’s mission and vision. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at DePaul University and a PhD in management information systems from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Dr. Linda Vakunta is Deputy Mayor for the City of Madison, where she assists with housing and human services issues. She previously served as Program Director at the Chicago-based Heartland Alliance International (HAI), where she led, developed, and designed training programs for government, community, and non-governmental organizations to combat trafficking in persons. In recent years, she has worked as a researcher with Sustaining Natural Circle’s CDC funded grant on understanding impacts of opioid use among African American women in Madison. As founding executive director of Project 1808, a Wisconsin-based nonprofit, she led the development and growth during a decade-long tenure from 2009-2019. She was instrumental in the growth, success, and global-local recognition of the group as an important player in transforming lives, enabling youth and adults, and building capacity in Sierra Leone through School-Community-University Partnership Models. She holds a PhD in Environmental Studies, a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Psychology and a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Kayla Conklin is the Talent Management Officer at Park Bank, but her passion for seeking out talent and helping people find their purpose has been prevalent throughout her career. After working in human services for two years, Kayla transitioned to Park Bank. Kayla was promoted to join the Human Resources team where she is responsible for recruitment, retention, and development of top talent with a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens.  Kayla is working to create a bank that more accurately represents the Greater Madison Area. Kayla currently sits on four boards of other non-profits in the community to support and carry on their missions: Badger Prairie Needs Network, RISE Wisconsin, Urban Triage, and Urban League of Greater Madison Young Professionals. In 2018, Kayla graduated from UW-Madison with a degree in Legal Studies and a certificate in Criminal Justice, and earned a master’s degree in business communications earlier this year.

Sheila Milton is vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion and community engagement at UW Credit Union. In her current role, Milton serves as an institutional resource focused on promoting a culture of inclusion where all individuals can thrive. Her commitment to racial equity also extends beyond the organization, centering on strong relationships with community and campus partners to empower hand-raising, boost funding and increase volunteer support. Milton came to UW Credit Union from CUNA Mutual Group (CMG) where she served as the director of Talent Management. She has served on The Forum on Workplace Inclusion Conference Planning Committee and the Madison Area Diversity Roundtable Executive Steering Committee. Milton is a go-to speaker for DEI-focused events on behalf of The National Association of Credit Union Service Organization (NACUSO), The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the Filene Research Institute. 

Dr. Robert (Bert) Davis is the President and CEO of the America’s Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee and a member of the board of the Association of African American Museums. Most recently, he was Principal of the nonprofit strategic consulting firm DRMD Strategies, LLC and former President and CEO to two Iowa organizations: the Dubuque County Historical Society and the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. He is also the former President and CEO of the Zoological Society of Milwaukee. During his tenure there, Dr. Davis secured a $6.7 million donation, the largest foundation gift the Society had received to date. Prior to the Zoological Society, Dr. Davis was Vice President of Education for Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo. His previous leadership roles also include Vice President of Education at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Director of Education and External Affairs at Zoo Atlanta, and he was the first African American to serve as a Supervisory Veterinary Medical Officer at the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park Department of Animal Health in Washington, DC. Dr. Davis is a veterinarian by training, with bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from Tuskegee University.

Dr. Stephanie Maney-Hartlaub is Senior Vice President and Executive Director of City Year Milwaukee. She is an experienced nonprofit leader with exceptional educational and team leadership experience. She is a proud graduate of Milwaukee Public Schools’ Riverside University High School. She most recently served as the Senior Director of Talent Strategy and Development for City Forward Collective where she oversaw their talent strategy and the principal licensure program they operate with Alverno College, identifying high potential leaders and developing them through a blend of rigorous study, coaching, and field experience.  Prior to joining City Forward Collective, Stephanie was a teacher and administrator with Milwaukee Public Schools.  Stephanie earned her B.S. in Education from the UW-Whitewater, and an M.A. in Educational Leadership and a PhD in Leadership, Learning, Service, and Research from Cardinal Stritch University.

Pastor Ken Lock is senior pastor at Evolve Church in Milwaukee, which started in Lock’s living room in 2019 and has evolved through the COVID-19 pandemic into a 1,500-person congregation. This past summer, the church moved into its new location, with mental health and financial literacy programs, as well as tutoring and other programs for kids. He is also the team barber and chaplain to the Milwaukee Bucks – the only person in the NBA to serve those two roles.

Dr. Ozalle Toms is Campus Executive for the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point at Wausau. She has worked in the field of education for over two decades. Her long-standing passion for education was ignited during her eight-year tenure as a high school special education teacher. At the higher education level, she is actively involved in initiatives relating to supporting university students who have aged out of foster care, those relating to student success and equity, access, and inclusion. Dr. Toms joined the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2012 and served there for 10 years as a faculty member in the college of education and professional studies and as an Assistant Vice Chancellor. Dr. Toms conducts training at the campus, state, national and international levels on microaggressions, civil discourse, and strategies for supporting foster youth and those who have experienced trauma. She also provides educational consulting to K-12 personnel and school districts on supporting at-risk youth and creating inclusive environments. She is the author of a recently published memoir, Letting Perseverance Finish, and the owner of DocOzLLC.

Willie R. Glenn Sr. is the first Black teen librarian at Madison Public Library, where he also previously served as youth services librarian assistant. He began his journey here in Madison as Student Support Service Coordinator for UW-Madison’s PEOPLE program, and later as the Assistant Director at Meadowood Neighborhood center. He has served in several capacities in youth and adult education, including as a lead instructor with UW-Madison’s Odyssey program, Out of School Youth Coordinator for Madison Metropolitan School District and a program coordinator for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee. One of his proudest moments is helping spawn Madison’s “Parks Alive” from his “It Takes A Village Community Resource Fair” which brings people together over the summer months.

Ashley Morse is Rock County Circuit Court Judge, the first Black woman to servein that position. Morse worked for the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office beginning 2010, and was based in Janesville since 2014, representing indigent clients as an assistant state public defender in a variety of criminal and civil proceedings in several counties across the state. Locally, she has served on the Rock County Trauma Task Force, the Rock County Youth Justice Racial Disparities Committee, and has coached the Turner High School Mock Trial Team. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and of the University of Wisconsin Law School. She has worked extensively with the National Juvenile Defender Center (now The Gault Center), including her selection as an Ambassador for Racial Justice.

David Wilson is diversity and inclusion specialist at Prevea Health in Green Bay, where he helps to develop, implement, monitor, and measure diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in alignment with Prevea Health’s commitment to supporting an inclusive community. Before relocating to Green Bay last year, David served three years on the Beloit Area School District Board of Education and worked as director of visitor services at Visit Beloit. He also spent 12 years as program director and unit director for the Beloit unit of the Stateline Boys and Girls Club. He previously served on the Beloit School District (E)Quality Committee, the United Way Blackhawk Region community impact council, and the NAACP Youth Chapter. He has been affiliated with Rock County Youth2Youth, the Rock County Resource Center, and the Beloit Memorial High School’s booster club. 

Tanya McLean is the Executive Director & Founder of Leaders Of Kenosha, an organization that acts as a conduit for social, transformative, and restorative justice. Under Tanya’s leadership, the group was named Kenosha County Democratic Party’s Community Organization of the Year for 2022. She is a veteran of the United States Army, and originally from Kenosha. After serving time in the military, she moved back to raise her family and has continued her community engagement for the last 18 years. She previously served as a United Way “Readers are Leaders” tutor at Brass Elementary, a member of Coalition for Dismantling Racism, and a member of Building of Future “Brass Community Conversations. She was named Kenosha Women’s Club’s 2016 Woman Veteran of the Year. A former educator in the Kenosha Unified School District, Tanya holds a master’s degree Social Work, a master’s degree in Urban Education and Social Policy and a bachelor’s degree in Sociology.

Alnisa Allgood the founder and executive director of Nonprofit Tech, a company that helps nonprofits use technology to work more efficiently, and Collaboration for Good, a  Madison-based company focused on building the capacity of for-profit or not-for-profit community service organizations. Collaboration for Good plans the annual Madison Nonprofit Day Conference, the Social Good Summit, and partners with Forward Fest, Madison’s premier tech and entrepreneurship festival. In the early 1990s, she was the founder and inaugural director of the LGBT Campus Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Dr. Angela Hawkins is assistant superintendent at Verona Area School District, where she oversees academics for students grades 4K-12, as well as bilingual literacy, equity leadership and technology services. She first joined the district in June 2020 as its first elementary school education director. Prior to joining the district, Hawkins was the director of elementary learning for Indianapolis Public Schools, and has taught at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis. She has also been an elementary school principal and teacher for two decades.

Spencer Johnson has been a barber in Madison for over 20 years, recently opening his own salon located at Foxy Salon Suites on the west side. He started cutting his own hair, then his college roommate’s as a student at UW-Whitewater. That roommate let fellow UWW alum Jeff “JP” Patterson know Spencer was pretty good at this barbering thing. JP was able to get Spencer to commit to take a break from his burgeoning career in banking to work for one year and help get JP Hair Design off the ground. That was 1999; more than two decades later, Johnson has given haircuts to thousands of community members, from elementary school students to NBA stars.

Chantell Jewell is the first Black woman to serve as superintendent of the Milwaukee County Community Reintegration Center, formerly known as the House of Corrections. A Milwaukee native, Chantell Jewell brought over 25 years of experience to her role when she was appointed by County Executive David Crowley in November 2020. For 20 years, Jewell served in various positions within the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC), including roles as a youth counselor, parole agent, and field supervisor. During her tenure at DOC, Jewell Co-Chaired the Regional Diversity Committee to improve organizational culture, educate staff on implicit bias, and review hiring practices to increase staff diversity. Jewell also participated in a statewide committee that developed evidence- based responses to violations in order to improve consistency and decrease racial disparities in the system. In 2019, Jewell has served as a Deputy Administrator for Milwaukee County’s Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). Prior to joining Milwaukee County, Jewell worked as a Reentry Services Manager for EMPLOY Milwaukee where she developed EMPLOY Milwaukee’s long-term policy agenda of reentry programming, increased employment opportunities and placements for people in the system in Milwaukee County, and led systems integration between the Workforce Board, Department of Corrections, and community based organizations.

Erickajoy Daniels leads system-wide diversity and inclusion efforts at Advocate Aurora Health, Wisconsin’s largest private employer and the 10th largest not-for-profit health system in the nation. Previously, Erickajoy was responsible for organizational development and global talent management at Brady Corporation in Milwaukee. She also held progressive employee development positions at the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Washington, D.C. An active community leader, Erickajoy serves as a trustee at Mount Mary University and vice president of the board of Milwaukee Athletic Club. Additionally, she is active in TEMPO Milwaukee Professional Women’s Network. She is cofounder and board member of One MKE, an organization dedicated to addressing cultural divides in the Milwaukee community. Erickajoy also serves on several boards including Penfield Children’s Center, Cultural Commons for 88Nine Radio Milwaukee, Raynor Memorial Library for Marquette University, A.L.I.V.E Milwaukee, Links Inc. of Milwaukee and is seated on the leadership team as chaplain for the Milwaukee chapter of Jack and Jill of America. Erickajoy has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and earned her master’s degree in management through Marian University.

Who’s we miss? If you know of someone who should be on this list next year, email us!