Bruce Murphy

Black Leadership Group Hires First President

Milwaukee native Deneine Powell will run the African American Leadership Alliance.

By - Aug 12th, 2020 05:14 pm
Deneine Powell. Photo courtesy of African American Leadership Alliance of Milwaukee.

Deneine Powell. Photo courtesy of African American Leadership Alliance of Milwaukee.

The African American Leadership Alliance Milwaukee (AALAM), formed in May 2017, and run until now by a volunteer board, has hired it first paid leader. The group announced today the appointment of Deneine Powell as its President and CEO.

AALAM, as Urban Milwaukee has reported, is looking to make giant strides in racial equity in Milwaukee, working with groups like the Metropolitan Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce to promote the hiring and promotion of black talent. The group recently announced the results of a report showing Milwaukee ranks last among the 50 biggest cities in the nation on a wide range of socio-economic measurements and the group wants to develop strategies to promote Black educational attainment and residential integration.

Powell previously served for six years as Executive Director of Groundwork Milwaukee, a nonprofit focused on promoting environmental, economic, and social well-being, where she was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Groundwork, including fundraising, marketing, partnerships, grant writing, youth programming, volunteer activities, and cultivating diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. Under her leadership, Groundwork Milwaukee’s organizational revenue grew over 350 percent and event and volunteer participation grew by 200 percent.

In an interview with Urban Milwaukee Sherry Terrell-Webb, board chair of Groundwork, heaped praise on Powell’s work for the organization. “She’s driven. She’s an entrepreneur who ran her own business (a spa based in Milwaukee) and that’w what helped up to build up the organization. She grew a three-person staff to a staff of 12 high performers.”

One of Powell’s innovations was to develop fee-for-service programming that now accounts for 25 percent of the group’s revenue. The group does fee for service work for both the city and county. The group hss helped develop urban gardens in the city, and trained residents to grow gardens with fruits and vegetables.

Powell’s hiring brings her full circle back to a group where she got some of her early training. She was in the first cohort of the African American Leadership Program (AALP), which served as the springboard for AALAM. She is also a graduated of the ACRE program that trains minorities in real estate development. She is a Milwaukee native who attended Milwaukee Public Schools.

“We are thrilled to have Deneine join AALAM as its first President/CEO,” said Antonio Riley, AALAM Board Chairman and founder of Stewart Riley Consulting LLC. “She has expansive knowledge and experience in many of the key areas needed to take AALAM to the next level, and we’re excited to have her at the helm to develop and support a thriving pool of diverse and talented African American leaders in our city.”

Before her tenure at Groundwork Milwaukee, Powell held leadership positions at the Milwaukee Community Service Corps. and the Lilly & Hamilton Inc. Business Strategy Group. She also served as Managing Director at the Small Business Development Center at the University of Wisconsin Parkside-Kenosha, where she developed and executed dozens of strategic plans for small businesses and nonprofits. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science from Marian University in Fond Du Lac.

“Over the course of my career, I’ve realized that the aspects of my work I find most rewarding are entrepreneurial in nature – I enjoy the challenge of growing a business,” says Powell. “I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and partnering with AALAM’s hardworking board to identify ways to improve the retention and advancement for black professionals in Milwaukee, while cultivating community partnerships through community engagement and collaboration. Milwaukee has a bright future. I’m excited to watch it grow.”

Powell will begin her work at AALAM in September 2020.

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