DDEEA honors inaugural Outstanding Alumni of Color recipients

More than 250 UW-Madison graduates were recognized for completing degrees along with honoring Outstanding Alumni of Color Ray Allen (’73) and Carlton Highsmith (’73) at the third annual celebration on Friday, May 13 in Union South’s Varsity Hall. DDEEA graduation May 13, 2016. (Photo © Andy Manis)

Hosted by the Office of the Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer, the annual Graduation Recognition Ceremony celebrated the Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement’s scholars in the CeO (Center for Educational Opportunity), Chancellor’s and Powers-Knapp Scholarship programs, First Wave Hip-Hop and Urban Arts Learning Community, Pathways, PEOPLE (Precollege Educational Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence) and Posse programs.  A reception on the Union South Terrace will follow.  The event can be viewed online  at http://tinyurl.com/znr7of3

This year, the Office of the Vice Provost & Chief Diversity Officer and Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement honored two exceptional UW-Madison alumni with the Outstanding Alumni of Color Award for their professional careers and personal contributions to the community as excellent examples of the Wisconsin Idea at work. Ray Allen (JBA ‘73) and Carlton Highsmith (BA Economics ’73) launched their undergraduate careers as roommates.

Ray Allen ('73)
Ray Allen (’73)

Ray Allen is a native of Milwaukee who moved to Madison in 1969 to attend college at the University of Wisconsin, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Mass Communication in 1973. Upon graduation, he went to work for the John Deere Company as a marketing and finance representative.

He joined state government in 1987. He has been the Executive Assistant to the Secretary of the Department of Employment Relations, where he supervised the Division of Affirmative Action, the State Employee Assistance Program, and the state’s Total Quality Management Training Program. He also served as the Director of the State Office of Employee Development and Training. Mr. Allen later became the Executive Director of the Technology for the Educational Achievement in Wisconsin Board.

In 1996, he joined the Department of Financial Institutions, where he spent the following two decades in a variety of leadership roles, including Deputy Secretary and Secretary before his appointment as Secretary for the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

Allen has served on many Madison area community boards and commissions, notably being elected to three terms on the Madison School Board, serving from 1995 to 2004, and was Chairperson of the Madison Area Technical College Board. He is the former publisher and owner of The Madison Times, a weekly newspaper. He is a partner and Vice President of Madtown Paradies, which operates retail stores in Dane County’s Regional Airport.


Carlton Highsmith ('73)
Carlton Highsmith (’73)

Carlton Highsmith earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1973. He holds Honorary Doctorate degrees from Quinnipiac University and Albertus Magnus College.

He was founder, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The Specialized Packaging Group, Inc (SPG) from 1983 until 2009, orchestrating three successful acquisitions and integrations during that period. SPG grew to become the largest minority owned, and 7th largest overall, manufacturer of paperboard packaging in North America before it merged with PaperWorks Industries in 2009. He also directed several key strategic initiatives that included the 2001 “greenfield” carton manufacturing expansion in Lenexa, Kansas and in 2000 he established a new package design and innovation center in Chicago.

As chairman of the Board, Connecticut Center for Arts & Technology, Mr. Highsmith has led the expansion into Connecticut of McArthur Genius Award winner Bill Strickland’s replication model for adult training and after school student arts programming. Known locally as the Connecticut Center for Arts & Technology (ConnCAT), the Center is located in Science Park at Yale in New Haven and has become Strickland’s fifth replication Center in the nation, joining San Francisco, Grand Rapids, Cincinnati and Cleveland.

Serving on numerous national industry board of directors, he is the recipient of multiple federal and national business awards and University of Wisconsin honors.

2016 UW-Madison Graduates celebrate with the singing of "Varsity."
2016 UW-Madison Graduates celebrate with the singing of “Varsity.”