New nonprofit to focus on growing, retaining African American leadership in Milwaukee

African American Leadership Alliance of Milwaukee to offer leadership development program

Jeanette Mitchell at the launch of AALAM.

Last updated on November 15th, 2019 at 05:30 pm

The African American Leadership Alliance of Milwaukee, a nonprofit organization focused on growing and retaining the region’s pool of African American talent, publicly launched Friday.

AALAM aims to address disparities by supporting African American leadership across various sectors.

Among its goals are to “redefine Milwaukee as a top-ranking city for African Americans” by 2025, ensure African American leaders choose to live in Milwaukee and enhance a growing pool of African American leaders who “contribute to positive change” in the city.

Its board includes several prominent business and community leaders, including chair Antonio Riley of Stewart Riley Consulting LLC, and members Angela Adams of Goodwill Industries, Kyle Lindberg of Rockwell Automation, Jasmine Johnson of ManpowerGroup, Michael Morgan of MLM Consulting LLC, Kamilah Williams-Kemp of Northwestern Mutual and Kathryn Dunn of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

AALAM leaders have been laying the groundwork for AALAM since 2017, when 80 community leaders participated in a three-day strategic planning session to identify solutions to the region’s racial disparities.

“We see an extraordinary opportunity to harness Milwaukee’s African American talent to transform the Milwaukee region into a global destination where everyone, regardless of race, can thrive and prosper,” Riley said.

The organization, a 501(c)(3), will take on the African American Leadership Program, which has been housed at Cardinal Stritch University since 2008.

AALAM grew out of conversations among area leaders about how to expand the reach of the leadership program, which takes cohorts of about 20 individuals through a series of leadership development sessions and coaching over nine months. The program has produced about 200 alumni in the for-profit, nonprofit, entrepreneurial and civic sectors, and has been successful at connecting African American leaders with a supportive network as they advance in their careers, said Jeanette Mitchell, who founded AALP and is a founder of AALAM.

“This is an opportunity to leverage the lessons we’ve learned from AALP​,” Mitchell said. “AALAM is truly a natural evolution from the AALP program, serving as a connector for supporting sustainable, s​ystem-​wide change across the Milwaukee region.”

AALAM’s work coincides with the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce’s Region of Choice initiative, which aims to increase the number of African American and Hispanic employees in metro Milwaukee by 15% and managers by 25% by 2025. Tim Sheehy, president of MMAC, and Julie Granger, executive vice president of MMAC, have been involved with AALAM over the past two years.

While AALAM’s work is aimed at addressing disparity, it’s important to shine a light not just on disparities, but also to “change the narrative regarding African Americans in Milwaukee,” said Genyne Edwards, partner of P3 Development Group.

“Although this is a city that really struggles around some of those horrible indicators, there are African American leaders who are doing really awesome work, there are people who are leading, who are bright, talented and ready to engage, but often the energy is focused on the disparity,” Edwards said. “So how do we ensure that we are putting a light on the really great things that are happening?”

The founding team plans to have AALAM’s executive director and staff members hired by mid-2020. Moving forward, AALAM will hold quarterly meetings for members, which include those original 80 leaders who convened in 2017, to check in on the organization’s goals and monitor its progress.

The Greater Milwaukee Committee is the fiscal agent for AALAM. Leaders are exploring models to sustain the organization with earned revenue, rather than relying solely on philanthropic support. Cardinal Stritch will remain a higher education partner of AALAM, Mitchell said.

Leaders announced the organization’s public launch Friday at the ManpowerGroup headquarters as part of a day-long series of events and sessions focused on retaining African American talent in the Milwaukee region.

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Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.