Group of Milwaukee nonprofit leaders commit to diversifying their boards, workforce

Joe’Mar Hooper
Joe’Mar Hooper

Last updated on June 28th, 2023 at 02:37 pm

The executives of the Milwaukee Urban League, SaintA, YMCA of Southeastern Wisconsin and 18 other Milwaukee nonprofit organizations have pledged to take steps to dismantle structural racism in the community, including diversifying their boards and staff.

In a statement Wednesday, the nonprofit leaders said they have made a “conscious decision to work together” to drive change in the community.

“With the murder of George Floyd many of our organizations have made our own statements regarding structural racism and the need for change,” the leaders said. “However, it is past time to say more and do more. It is time to acknowledge that there will be no change if we ignore structural racism and do not work to dismantle white supremacy. Dismantling such structures requires the power of a collective effort. Alone, we cannot wholly address the powerful and pervasive issues of systemic racism. Today, we commit to work together.”

Signers of the letter include: Andi Elliott of Community Advocates, Joyce Felker of The Parenting Network, Colleen Foley of Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, Teri Zywicke of Milwaukee Center for Independence, Anthony McHenry of Milwaukee Academy of Science, Joe’Mar Hooper of Safe and Sound, Ann Leinfelder Grove of SaintA, Cindy Krahenbuhl of Guest House Milwaukee, Carrie Wall of YMCA of Southeastern Wisconsin, Jeff Martinka of Neighborhood House, Karen Higgins of Milwaukee Christian Center, Dan Schiller of Peak Initiative, Tracey Sparrow of Next Door, Christine Holmes of Penfield Children’s Center, Mara Duckens of St. Francis Children’s Center, Carmen Pitre of Sojourner Family Peace Center, Tom Schneider of COA, Eve Hall of Milwaukee Urban League, Keith Stanley of Avenues West, Amy Chionchio of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Milwaukee, and Tony Kearney of Northcott Neighborhood House.

The group said it is committed to diversifying the membership of their organizations’ board of directors, mentoring employees who are racially and ethnically representative of the clients their organizations serve to be in leadership positions, and recruiting, developing and retaining a racially diverse workforce at all levels of their organizations.

They said they will also “prevail community leaders and the philanthropic community to address systemic racism,” support policy reforms related to the use of police force, criminal justice reform, discriminatory housing policies that perpetuate segregation and minimum wage. They said they will also promote racial equity in public education and voter registration among their staff and clients.

“We know that completing a checklist of items will not, alone, achieve our goal, so we commit to developing shared benchmarks and being transparent about our progress,” the group said. “These efforts must be deeply rooted in our mission, our values and in our daily work.”

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