UW Alumni, Staff Named Among ‘Wisconsin’s Most Influential Black Leaders’

Cheryl Gittens headshot
Dr. Cheryl B. Gittens, Interim Deputy Vice Chancellor for Diversity & Inclusion

Dr. Cheryl B. Gittens, UW–Madison interim deputy vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion & chief diversity officer, was included among more than a dozen UW alumni and staff on Madison365‘s list of “Wisconsin’s Most Influential Black Leaders” for 2020.

“I’m honored and humbled to have been included among so many amazing leaders I respect and admire so deeply,” Gittens tweeted from her official Twitter account. “Thank you to Madison365, and thank you to all the other honorees for doing what you do to make this state a better place.”

Madison365’s annual “Black Power” list, the publication’s longest-running and most highly anticipated report, honored 51 leaders from across Wisconsin and included more than a dozen Badger alumni and staff, plus many more alumni, staff and community members from other UW System schools.

“Every year, I’ve intended this list to highlight the beauty of the diversity across our state,” Madison365 publisher and CEO Henry Sanders wrote. “I want kids here in Wisconsin to see role models of people who are succeeding, to know that it’s possible for African Americans to achieve great things here.”

“We have never intended this list to be exhaustive. Obviously, no list has been, because we keep finding more and more dynamic leaders doing real work across the private, public and nonprofit sectors. … It was important for us to expand the way we think about influence, and to highlight more of the people doing what it takes to improve their community.”

Read Madison365’s full list of “Wisconsin’s 51 Most Influential Black Leaders”: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

UW–Madison staff and alumni included in the 2020 list

  • Kiah Calmese Walker, Director of Supply Chain services at UW Health
  • Milele Coggs (JD ’02), Milwaukee Common Council member
  • Jael Currie (MSW ’11), Housing Director at YWCA Madison
  • Nada Elmikashfi (’20), Chief of Staff for State Rep.-elect Francesca Hong 
  • Dr. Cheryl B. Gittens, Interim Deputy Vice Chancellor for Diversity & Inclusion at UW–Madison
  • Kingsley Gobourne (’04), Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at UnityPoint Health-Meriter
  • Michael Jackson (’04, MBA ’13), Associate Athletic Director of Development, Inclusion & Engagement for Wisconsin Athletics
  • Dr. Carlton Jenkins (MS ’93, PhD ’09), Superintendent of Madison Metropolitan School District
  • Cavalier Johnson (’09), President of the Milwaukee Common Council
  • April Kigeya (’04), Special Project Manager for the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness
  • Michelle Nettles (JD ’97), Chief People and Culture Officer at ManpowerGroup
  • Ashley Thomas (’12), Executive Director of Hope Street Ministry in Milwaukee
  • Rosa Thompson (MS ’14), Advanced Learning Teacher Leader at Schenk Elementary School in Madison and founder of the Black Girl Magic Conference
  • Payton Wade (’20), Communications Coordinator for UW–Madison Student Affairs
  • Nasra Wehelie (’93), Founder & CEO of Empathy 4 Equity LLC, Madison City Council member
  • Tyler Whipple (’02, MBA ’19), Vice President of Inclusive Excellence at American Family Insurance

Did we miss a UW–Madison connection in the 2020 “Black Power” list? Please email webmaster@cdo.wisc.edu to let us know and we’ll update the list!