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5 Black Wisconsin Leaders You Probably Didn’t Know About

What better way to celebrate Black History month than by learning about 5 amazing Wisconsinites!


1. Jeff Paterson

Jeff Paterson is the owner of JP Hair Design on Madison’s West Side, a  prominent shop for African Americans, Latinos, and Wisconsin Badger athletes. JP’s Hair Design has a partnership with the Rebalanced Life Wellness Association’s Men’s Health and Education Center. He promotes good health for African-American men and reduces racial health disparities right inside the JP Hair Design building. He is a teacher at Madison College, teaching a barbering and cosmetology program.


2. Keetra Burnette

Keetra Burnette currently works as a senior director of community impact for the United Way of Dane County and is the first African-American to hold that role. She is in charge of the United Way community solutions teams and the annual allocation of United Way’s investments in the community’s “Agenda for Change” program. She is devoted to implementing strategic focuses aimed at addressing poverty and racial inequities. Burnette founded the Madison Black Women Rock community foundation and words to bridge gaps between law enforcement and communities of color.


3. Mike Ford

Mike Ford, also known as The Hip Hop Architect, hosts Hip Hop Architecture camps at the Madison Public Library. His focus is challenging young people of color to think critically and dream big about their neighborhoods and communities. Through this, he has also challenged the city of Madison’s urban planners to listen to what youth have to say. Ford’s camps have been replicated across that nation and have earned him a national award from the Urban Libraries Council.


4. Toya Washington

Toya Washington is a co-anchor for Milwaukee’s newscast on WISN-TV. Washington is an Emmy Award winner and a four-time nominee. She is an advocate against sexist stereotypes women in the media face, especially considering their wardrobe choices. She is a UW-Madison alumni and works with the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.


5. Victor Barnett

Victor Barnett is the founder and the executive director of Running Rebels Community Organization. Another UW-Madison alumni, Barnett has worked with youth services for over 30 years, working with inner-city, at-risk youth. He has worked with Midnight Basketball League and the Warning League. He is best known for his work with at-risk youth and his ability to connect with them.


There are many more amazing Wisconsin leaders not mentioned in this article! Take this month and every month to appreciate the hard working black leaders in your own community!


Rachel Hietpas

Wisconsin '20

Rachel is a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is double majoring in political science and economics, and hopes to attend law school after her bachelors degree. Her passions include reading, drinking coffee, and dog-watching!
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