By: Claudia Delgadillo
Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service
This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on fifteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee. Visit milwaukeenns.org.In front of every good man stands an excellent woman.
If you don’t believe us, check out the 12 Milwaukee women being honored during Women’s History Month by the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
Each week, three women, who will be called “Milwaukee SHEroes,” will be saluted during the run of the play, “Eclipsed.” The play centers around five extraordinary women and their tales of hope and resilience during the Liberian Civil War.
The 12 SHEroes were chosen from more than 100 nominations and will be honored on the opening night of the play Friday, March 6.
This week, we feature Shayvon McCullum, founder of Secure Bridges; Kai Gardner, founder of Tables Across Borders; and Katie Avila Loughmiller, founder of Latinas Unidas En Las Artes , or LUNA.
Who: Shayvon McCullum
What she does: McCullum grew up in the 53206 neighborhood, bouncing between many houses up and down Burleigh Street. She has worked in healthcare for 18 years. She has created programs for both uninsured and under-insured patients. Working three jobs at any given time, she is also the sole caregiver for two growing children.
Community engagement has been a major part of her life, and cooking and feeding those in need are her priorities.
Who: Katie Avila Loughmiller
What she does: Avila Loughmiller is an interdisciplinary social practice artist who explores her own cultural complexity and female identity while also doing work that strengthens and builds community.
Avila Loughmiller has been an artist-in-residence at Santa Fe Art Institute, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Little House Gallery, Vermont Studio Center, Wildacres Residency Program and MKE<->LAX. She is the co-founder of LUNA, a Latina artist collective, and a founding member of Heard Space, a women of color-led performance arts collective, both based in Milwaukee. In addition to her art practice, she has a strong commitment to education and has taught South Africa, New York City, Los Angeles, Boston and currently teaches in the theater department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
She can be heard on “We heard we’re funny,” a comedy radio show on Riverwest Radio (WXRW 104.1 FM).
Who: Kai Gardner
What she does: Kai Gardner is active in many communities and has served on the boards of Hillel Milwaukee, JCRC Milwaukee, the Friendship Circle Wisconsin, NCJW Milwaukee, SEA Literacy Project, Hands and Voices and various disability rights groups. She has a long history of advocating for various marginalized and vulnerable communities via her work in medical and legal services case management.
Gardner works as the program coordinator of refugee health and social services at Advocate Aurora, is the Milwaukee community engagement director for EDOT and a co-facilitator for Nurturing Diversity Partners. She volunteers and develops projects extensively with refugee, immigrant and differently abled populations.
She also organizes the “Unity Brunch,” a networking event linking local communities and activists across missions and cultures.
Biographical information provided by Milwaukee Rep.