The Team

For the first time in history, Black Madison is leading every aspect of a multimillion-dollar initiative. Following decades of listening, The Center for Black Excellence and Culture’s leadership has brought the Black community together to create a resource they have yearned for.  The project is Black inspired, Black designed and Black led and each member of this powerhouse team is committed to working together to affirm, inspire and advance the Black community.

The team is spearheaded by The Center’s founder and CEO, Reverend Dr. Alex Gee.

The Center’s Founder

Rev. Dr. Alex Gee is a lifelong Madison resident, pastor of Fountain of Life Church, founder/CEO of the nonprofit Nehemiah Center of Urban Leadership and host of the podcast Black Like Me.

Black Influencers

From the beginning stages of its development, The Center has been engaging Madison’s Black community. That objective will remain the same, as The Center will be driven by the very same group. Meet just a few of the people involved:
Brian Russell

Brian Russell

An 8-year veteran of the US Marine Corps, Brian Russell leads business process architecture at the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB). Decades of volunteering in the community have helped him become a servant leader.
Dana Pellebon

Dana Pellebon

Dana Pellebon is a community activist that has been working against oppression in all forms for her adult life. She is the co-executive director of Rape Crisis Center in Dane County and also has extensive experience working with persons experiencing homelessness.
Emilie Songolo

Emilie Songolo

Emilie Songolo fosters a culture of growth, respect, dialogue and trust through her work as UW-Madison’s Head of International and Area Studies (IAS) for libraries and the founder of AFRICaide.
Hon. Frances Huntley-Cooper

Hon. Frances Huntley-Cooper

A zealous advocate for underrepresented and vulnerable individuals, Frances Huntley-Cooper is an experienced social work supervisor who was also Wisconsin’s first and only Black elected mayor.
Joe Maldonado

Joe Maldonado

Experienced in philanthropy, grantmaking and community development, Joe Maldonado serves as community youth development program manager for UW-Madison, Division of Extension.
John Milton

John Milton

Born and raised in Milwaukee WI, John Milton is experienced in social sciences and is currently the multicultural service coordinator at Madison La Follette High School.
Kirbie Mack

Kirbie Mack

A creative, enthusiastic, high-achieving executive with over 33 years of experience in government and business, Kirbie Mack has served several mayors, governors and other governmental entities.
Rev. Lilada Gee

Rev. Lilada Gee

A dynamic voice on behalf of Black girls and women throughout the African diaspora who carry the heavy burden of generations of sexual trauma, as well as their own, Lilada Gee is a biographer, preacher, artist and founder of Black Woman Heal.

Advisory Council

The Advisory Council is a coalition that represents many segments of Madison’s community. They are responsible for ensuring that The Center’s programming and services are shaped by the needs of Black Madison every step of the way.

Bob Wynn

Bob Wynn

CLIMB USA, President, Prosquared LLC
Corinda Rainey-Moore

Corinda Rainey-Moore

Community Engagement Manager, Unity Point Health-Meriter Hospital, founding board member of The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness
Damond Boatwright

Damond Boatwright

Regional President of SSM Health Systems
Dr. Christy Clark-Pujara, Ph.D.

Dr. Christy Clark-Pujara, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of African American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Author
Dr. Fabu Carter

Dr. Fabu Carter

Former Madison Poet Laureate, Ph.D. candidate, Black Brain Health Community Advocate
Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings

Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings

Former Kellner Family Distinguished Professor of Urban Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison, International Scholar
Dr. Jasmine Zapata, MD, MPH

Dr. Jasmine Zapata, MD, MPH

Public Health Leader, Pediatrician, Mother
Dr. Jerlando F. L. Jackson, Ph.D.

Dr. Jerlando F. L. Jackson, Ph.D.

Vilas Distinguished Professor of Higher Education, Chair of the UW-Madison School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis
Dr. LaVar J. Charleston, Ph.D.

Dr. LaVar J. Charleston, Ph.D.

Deputy Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion, Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Dr. Linda Vakunta

Dr. Linda Vakunta

City of Madison Deputy Mayor
Dr. Ruben L. Anthony, Jr., Ph.D.

Dr. Ruben L. Anthony, Jr., Ph.D.

President & CEO of Urban League of Greater Madison
Dr. Winslow Sargeant, Ph.D.

Dr. Winslow Sargeant, Ph.D.

WARF Trustee, Former Executive for the SBA Office in D.C.
Emilie Songolo

Emilie Songolo

Head of the International & Area Studies for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of AFRICaide
Hon. Everett Mitchell

Hon. Everett Mitchell

Dane County Circuit Court Judge
Hon. Frances Huntley-Cooper

Hon. Frances Huntley-Cooper

Co-Chair, Madison College District Board of Directors, retired Dane County Human Services Professional, former Mayor of Fitchburg
Hon. Joe Parisi

Hon. Joe Parisi

Dane County Executive
Hon. Rick Phelps

Hon. Rick Phelps

Former Dane County Executive, chaired redevelopment of East Washington Ave/Capitol East District
Hon. Satya Rhodes-Conway

Hon. Satya Rhodes-Conway

Mayor of the City of Madison
Jason Fields

Jason Fields

President & CEO, Madison Region Economic Partnership
Kaleem Caire

Kaleem Caire

Founder and CEO of One City Schools
Kingsley Gobourne

Kingsley Gobourne

Chief Equity and Engagement Officer, Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin
Larry Frank

Larry Frank

Co-Founder of Frank Productions
Neil Heinen

Neil Heinen

Co-Chair, Retired Editorial Director at WISC-TV and Madison Magazine, civic leader
Ray Allen

Ray Allen

Former Wisconsin Secretary of Workforce and Development
Rev. David Smith

Rev. David Smith

Associate Pastor of Door Creek Church, lifelong South Madison resident
Rev. Lilada Gee

Rev. Lilada Gee

Founder of Defending Black Girlhood and Black Woman Heal
Tony Chambers

Tony Chambers

Director, Equity, Inclusion, and Innovation, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Vanessa McDowell

Vanessa McDowell

President and Chief Executive Officer at YWCA Madison
Wes Sparkman

Wes Sparkman

Director of the Dane County Office of Equity and Inclusion
Zach Brandon

Zach Brandon

President of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce

Project Team

Individuals alone cannot bring this project to life. The following businesses are helping make The Center a reality.

Amanda White Consulting

Amanda White Consulting

Fundraising
Baker Tilly

Baker Tilly

New Market Tax Credit Advisors
Bower Group, LLC

Bower Group, LLC

Development and Project Management
Carlson Black O’Callaghan & Battenberg LLP

Carlson Black O’Callaghan & Battenberg LLP

Legal Services
Findorff

Findorff

Construction Management
Firecracker Consulting, LLC

Firecracker Consulting, LLC

Strategic Communications
Hiebing

Hiebing

Branding, Marketing, Public Relations
Hon. Rick Phelps

Hon. Rick Phelps

Project Strategy, Former Dane County Executive, Chaired Redevelopment of East Washington Ave/ Capital East District
Huffman Facilities Management

Huffman Facilities Management

Design and Construction Oversight, Owner’s Representative
JLA Architects

JLA Architects

Architecture
Lord Cultural Resources

Lord Cultural Resources

Cultural Planning Services
Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development

Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development

Cultural Strategy, Administrative Support
Neil Lerner

Neil Lerner

Business Plan Development
Rev. Lilada Gee

Rev. Lilada Gee

Community Engagement & Project Cultural Strategist
Scholz Nonprofit Law

Scholz Nonprofit Law

Legal Services

Capital Campaign Leadership Committee

The Capital Campaign Leadership Committee is in charge of raising $36 Million necessary to bring The Center to life.

Alan Fish

Alan Fish

Retired Vice Chancellor of UW- Madison
Anthony Cooper, Sr.

Anthony Cooper, Sr.

Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Reentry Services, Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development
Betty Harris Custer

Betty Harris Custer

Founder & Managing Partner, Custer Financial
Brian Burns

Brian Burns

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Morgan Murphy Media
Cedric Ellis

Cedric Ellis

Executive Vice President & Chief Enterprise Services Officer, CUNA Mutual Foundation
George Austin

George Austin

President, AVA Civic Enterprises
Hon. Frances Huntley-Cooper

Hon. Frances Huntley-Cooper

Co-Chair, Madison College District Board of Directors, retired Dane County Human Services Professional, former Mayor of Fitchburg
Hon. Rick Phelps

Hon. Rick Phelps

Project Strategy, Former Dane County Executive, Chaired Redevelopment of East Washington Ave/ Capital East District
Jim Bower

Jim Bower

Principal, Bower Group LLC
Jim Yehle

Jim Yehle

President & CEO, Findorff
John Milton

John Milton

Minority Services Coordinator, La Follette High School
Kesha Bozeman

Kesha Bozeman

Marketing Executive
Kim Sponem

Kim Sponem

CEO/ President, Summit Credit Union
Marla Frank

Marla Frank

Retired Chief Financial Officer, Frank Productions
Maurice “Mo” Cheeks

Maurice “Mo” Cheeks

Senior Partnerships Manager, Civis Analytics and past City of Madison Alderperson
Michelle A. Behnke

Michelle A. Behnke

Principal, Michelle Behnke & Associates
Mike Victorson

Mike Victorson

CEO, M3 Insurance
Neil Heinen

Neil Heinen

Co-Chair, Retired Editorial Director at WISC-TV and Madison Magazine, civic leader
Peter Feigin

Peter Feigin

President, Milwaukee Bucks
Ray Allen

Ray Allen

Former Wisconsin Secretary of Workforce and Development
Rev. Dr. Alex Gee

Rev. Dr. Alex Gee

Co-Chair, Lead Pastor of Fountain of Life Church, President and Founder of the Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development and Justified Anger
Susan Pierce Jacobsen

Susan Pierce Jacobsen

Vice President, Director of Administration Operations, JLA Architects
Sverre Roang

Sverre Roang

Attorney and Local Business Leader

Will You Join Us?

The Team behind The Center for Black Excellence and Culture goes beyond the names listed here. You too can become a part of building The Center by contributing to its success today.