By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
While Milwaukee is a diverse city, it hasn’t always been considered an inclusive one, especially for people of color. One organization is hoping to change that.
Last week, on Friday, Nov. 15, the African American Leadership Alliance of Milwaukee or AALAM officially went public as an organization. According to the press release, the group first began in 2017 when African American leaders and allies came together for a strategic training session.
Two years ago, during a three-day event, they discussed solutions for racial disparities and how to improve the state of African Americans in Milwaukee. It worked with African American Leadership Program (AALP) to connect leaders and allies who want to promote African American leadership in Milwaukee.
AALAM wants to improve racial equity. Its purpose is to offer support and help sustain African American leaders in economic sectors, according to its website.
“It is not enough to be talented, we must be listened to,” said Dr. Jeanette Mitchell during a press conference.
Mitchell is the founder and chief catalyst for AALAM. She explained that two years ago, a group of individuals gathered to research the best practices for a better Milwaukee. The group’s efforts eventually led to a shared vision with a clear purpose and overarching goals.
According to its website, it found that Milwaukee has an underutilized workforce when it comes to the African American population. Additionally, Milwaukee has more job openings than it does people to fill those jobs. The goal is to increase African American leadership by offering its network and resources to current and potential leaders with the idea that equity will improve along with quality of life and business.
The organization’s mission statement is as follows: “We believe that together under a shared vision and commitment, we will positively impact the trajectory of Milwaukee. We will infuse hope by developing and supporting a thriving pool of diverse and talented African American leaders.”
Antonio Riley worked for HUD but left after 20 years; now he’s the board president for AALAM. Riley said that AALAM will help address the disparity rate, because right now Milwaukee is number one in one thing: the incarceration rate for African American men.
AALAM is working to ensure that African American leaders choose Milwaukee as a place to live, work and play, he said. That means it needs to enhance its African American leaders.
“[AALAM will] serve as a connector across sector leaders,” he said. “[And] promote and sustain black leadership.”
Milwaukee could be a global destination, Riley said and through AALAM, it could be redefined by 2025.
To carry out its mission, AALAM has five sectors it is looking at: young adult leaders, communications, policy & practice, sustainability and talent development.
Alumni of AALP, city leaders and more are looking forward to AALAM achieving its goals.
“This all is possible,” Mitchell said.