Home covid #WisconsinStrong: leaders from across the state offer message of hope

#WisconsinStrong: leaders from across the state offer message of hope


Twenty leaders from across Wisconsin have come together — virtually — to offer a message of encouragement and hope to Wisconsin.

Madison365 publisher and CEO Henry Sanders reached out about a week ago inviting many local and statewide leaders of color in government, education, business and nonprofit sectors to share a video message with the state.

Nearly half of those infected in Milwaukee County are African American or Black. Additionally, service sector and restaurant jobs impacted by layoffs and closures disproportionately affect people of color.

“I am so grateful to these 20 leaders for their words of hope,” Sanders said. “Things are rough, but they took the time to send a truly beautiful and inspirational message to our community. We really are blessed to have these leaders in these unprecedented times.”

The messages include encouragement to stay home, wash hands, stay in touch with family and friends, and to be kind, as well as assurances that the community will get through the pandemic together.

“The sooner we get in, the sooner we get out,” said Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes.

“We are Wisconsin strong,” said former Green Bay Packer George Koonce, now Senior Vice President of University Relations at Marian University in Fond du Lac.

“Utilize this time to cherish being with your family,” said Boys and Girls Club of Dane County CEO Michael Johnson.

“We’re talking about physical distancing, not social distancing,” said Angela Russell, CUNA Mutual VO of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “Do what you can to stay connected, but stay home.”

“Be kind,” said Heal the Hood founder Ajamou Butler. “We just need a little more love, patience and positivity in the world.”

The video features some sections in Hmong and Spanish.

The leaders featured are:

  • Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes
  • Ajamou Butler, Founder, Heal the Hood Milwaukee
  • Jessica Cavazos, President, Latino Chamber of Commerce
  • Griselda Aldrete, Executive Director, Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission
  • Jack Daniels III, President, Madison College
  • Erik Kennedy, Community Relations Coordinator, Advocate Aurora Health
  • Shiva Bidar, Chief Diversity Officer, UW Health
  • State Senator Lena Taylor
  • Ho-Chunk Nation President Marlon WhiteEagle
  • State Representative David Crowley
  • Michael Johnson, CEO, Boys and Girls Club of Dane County
  • DJ Hines, Chief Operations Officer, Christian Faith Fellowship Church
  • Super Bowl Champion and former Green Bay Packer George Koonce, Senior Vice President, Marian University
  • Angela Russell, VP of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, CUNA Mutual Group
  • Tenzin Rampa, Former player, Milwaukee Wave, Head Coach, Tibetan National Soccer Team North America
  • May Yer Thao, Assistant Deputy Director, Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority
  • Shary Tran, Director, Diversity & Inclusion, Froedtert Health
  • Mai J. Lo Lee, Director, Multicultural Student Affairs Director, UW-Green Bay
  • Justin Cruz, Vice President of Diversity Recruitment, American Family Insurance
  • Karen Menendez Coller, Executive Director, Centro Hispano of Dane County

The videos were woven into a 2-minute message. Each individual contribution is available in full at Madison365.org/wisconsinstrong.