Gov. Evers appoints 30 new members to Advisory Council on Equity and Inclusion

By: - February 2, 2021 6:35 am
Rev. Alex Gee, pastor at Fountain of Life Covenant Church

Rev. Alex Gee, pastor at Fountain of Life Covenant Church

On the first day of Black History Month, Gov. Tony Evers is looking to ensure that the effort to rectify Wisconsin’s serious racial inequities will not end on Feb. 28.

The governor announced 30 appointments today to the Governor’s Advisory Council on Equity and Inclusion. The list of appointees includes leaders from nonprofits, tribes, churches, community organizations, educational institutions and state departments.

The chair of the council is Dawn Crim, secretary-designee of the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS), who wrote in today’s announcement: “We will work together to leverage our experience and expertise for the benefit of the entire state — because a diverse, equitable, and inclusive society truly does benefit all of us.”

The council is charged with guiding the governor, lieutenant governor and Department of Administration Secretary Joe Brennan to create a plan to “advance diversity, equity, and inclusion practices across Wisconsin state government.” The Council was created by Executive Order #59 in November 2019. 

Evers called upon the body to expand and build upon its previous work. “Our priority is and always has been building a Wisconsin that works for everyone, and in order to do that, we have to have a state government that reflects the people they serve,” the governor wrote. “Our agencies have done great work over the last two years to refocus the lens on equity and inclusion throughout the administration.”

Rev. Alex Gee, founder and CEO of Nehemiah Center of Urban Leadership and pastor at Fountain of Life Covenant Church in Madison, is one of the new appointees. “I’m excited about the opportunity to assist the governor and lieutenant governor of the state in this regard,” Gee tells Wisconsin Examiner. “ It was not a rushed knee-jerk reaction. They are really working to put something together that has teeth, that is not just a temporary fix.”

Gee, who leads popular Black history courses through Nehemiah’s Justified Anger project and hosts the podcast Black Like Me, has dedicated his career to unraveling systemic racism. “This kind of work is in my wheelhouse,” he says.

The announcement of the new appointees is an “impressive list” of people with deep roots in their communities, says Gee. “You don’t call this caliber of folks to the table just to rubber stamp things.These people have experience. This commission brings the brightest minds to the table, people who live these issues and address them professionally. That’s how you move forward.”

“Our state motto is ‘Forward,’” adds Gee. “And a motto like that needs action. Bringing forward diverse thinkers to the table to direct the state’s thinking like this is a good sign. I’m excited.” 

The Governor’s Advisory Council on Equity and Inclusion will have its first meeting on Feb. 19.  

The following are the new appointees to the Advisory Council:

  • Dawn Crim, Secretary-designee DSPS, Council Chair
  • Robyn Davis, J.D., President and CEO, Brown County United Way
  • Marie Summers, Councilwoman, Oneida Business Committee
  • Mai J. Lo Lee, Diversity Director, Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs Office at UW-Green Bay 
  • Dr. Monica Cummings, Assistant Minister, Bradford Community Church 
  • Dr. LaVar J. Charleston, Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and Clinical Professor, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison 
  • Dasheika Kidd, Program Manager Housing Resources, Inc & Racine Financial Empowerment Center 
  • Mai Xiong, President, Hmong American Leadership and Economic Development, Eau Claire City Councilmember 
  • Shaundel Spivey, Director, Upward Bound and President/Co-Founder of B.L.A.C.K 
  • Dr. Odawa L.A. White, Dean of Student Affairs, Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College 
  • Ruben Hopkins, Chairman/CEO of the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc. 
  • Jessica Boling, Co-Chair, Asian American Pacific Islander Coalition of Wisconsin  
  • Victor Barnett, Founder/Executive Director, Running Rebels Community Organization 
  • Que El-Amin, Co-Founder, Young Enterprising Society 
  • Markasa Tucker, Executive Director of the African American Roundtable, Inc., a project of the Hmong American Women’s Association 
  • Tammy Rivera, Executive Director, Southside Organizing Center of Milwaukee 
  • Nisreen Atta, Registered Nurse and Muslim Liaison, Islamic Society of Milwaukee 
  • Beth Wroblewski, Executive Director, Employment Resources, Inc. 
  • Jessica Cavazos, President/CEO, Wisconsin Latino Chamber of Commerce 
  • Dr. Carlton D. Jenkins, Superintendent, Madison Metropolitan School District 
  • Percy Brown, Jr., Director of Equity and Student Achievement, Middleton Cross Plains Area School District 
  • Adin Palau, Assistant Director of Community Relations and Campus Engagement, University of Wisconsin Madison and Chair, State Council on Affirmative Action 
  • Dr. Alex Gee, President and Founder, Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development and Pastor, Fountain of Life Covenant Church 
  • Vanessa McDowell, CEO, YWCA Madison
  • Amy Pechacek, Secretary-designee, Department of Workforce Development 
  • Kevin Carr, Secretary, Department of Corrections 
  • Mary Kolar, Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs 
  • Karen Timberlake, interim Secretary, Department of Health Services 
  • Joaquín Altoro, Executive Director and CEO, Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority 
  • Emilie Amundson, Secretary, Department of Children and Families


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Catherine Capellaro
Catherine Capellaro

Catherine Capellaro is a freelance writer and the arts and culture editor for Isthmus in Madison, Wisconsin. She is also the former managing editor of Rethinking Schools, a former anchor and reporter for Wisconsin Public Radio and WORT-89.9 FM and an accomplished playwright and musician.