May 1, 2015
In an effort to further engage the variety of skills, knowledge and experience of past graduates, the Wisconsin Alumni Association recently hired a new director of diversity and inclusion to build new relationships within the community.
And she’s hit the ground running.
As her first move, Tracey Williams-Maclin held an event earlier this month in Milwaukee bringing together a diverse group of University of Wisconsin-Madison alumni which she hopes will be the spark that ignites a fire of new community connections.
It’s clear there’s a need and no shortage of work. “Making national headlines, the “Race to Equity Project,” Tony Robinson shooting protests, the Black Lives Matter initiative and the Justified Anger Coalition cannot be ignored,” she said, noting just a few areas where UW alumni can step in and make connections between the university and the community. UW-Madison has not been actively engaging diverse alumni in the past, continued Williams-Maclin, who is the first Black woman to hold this position.
Attorney, community leader and UW graduate John Daniels hosted the alumni association meeting to foster discussions about how to best to engage alumni in the Milwaukee area. His name recognition added credibility and relevance to the meeting, Williams-Maclin said.
The purpose of the Milwaukee meeting was to bring a high caliber group of leaders together to begin building a foundation to launch long-term, systematic diversity and inclusion efforts.
No one has held Williams-Maclin’s position in almost five years and her new appointment to the post speaks to a renewed investment in concentrated diversity inclusion efforts.
Issues of race, equity and inclusion across all cultures have risen to the forefront of the alumni association’s focus. “In driving this effort, I collaborated with colleagues who shared input, expertise and demonstrated support for this effort,” she said.
UW Alumni discuss opportunities at the recent networking event.
The meeting was a success and a majority of the invited alumni attended. Those who could not attend expressed a strong desire to become involved in the future. At the meeting, discussions focused on capturing alumni sentiments about their experiences, engagement and opportunities to give in the Milwaukee and Madison area.
“There was positive energy, enthusiasm and involvement by all the participants,” said Williams-Maclin.
Feedback from the attendees showed that they all believed that sharing their ideas would lead to positive engagement for diverse alumni and students, especially Black alumni and students. Most attendees expressed interest in wanting to become more involved with the alumni association or UW-Madison diversity efforts in the near future.
Meeting feedback also indicated that alumni would like to become more involved by giving, dividing diversity, equity and educational achievement and by conducting community-based initiatives.
Many alumni expressed their expectations for the association moving forward, including a need for more events that bring alumni together and to raise resources for diversity efforts.
Williams-Maclin said the alumni association plans to use interviews from the meeting in a documentary featuring the stories of Black alumni and community leaders. Some of the participants include University of Wisconsin Regent Eve Hall, State Sen. Lena Taylor and John Daniels.
Although she’s only been in the position a few short months, Williams-Maclin has managed to plan a number of future alumni events. The next steps for the alumni association going forward will include opportunities for alumni involvement. She plans to have discussions with community leaders like President of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee Vincent Lyles and Denise Callaway, the business and community partnership coordinator for Milwaukee Public Schools.
In June, the alumni association will partner with the Wisconsin Future Alumni Association to host another event. Williams-Maclin said she wishes to develop individual engagement strategies centered on matching alumni with opportunities.
“For example, I will partner with (future alumni association) development colleagues to engage alumni interested in philanthropy,” she said.
Another opportunity she’s planning is a day-long strategic planning session with the same leaders who attended the Milwaukee meeting. This day-long event will focus on ways to recruit more alumni and plan more future events. She also emphasized that an annual homecoming event is in the works to get diverse alumni together for networking.
“It is important for diverse alumni to feel welcome on campus and in the Madison community,” she said.