Milwaukee’s racial inequities have existed for as long as Milwaukee has had a measurable African American population. While every American metropolitan area struggles with income inequality, concentrated poverty, unequal incarceration rates, disparate health outcomes, and poor overall quality of life, Milwaukee is unique based on the comprehensive issues experienced by its African American population. Given this reality, it was critical to create the Office on African American Affairs to initiate a long-term effort to improve the condition of Milwaukee’s African American community.
Under the leadership and oversight of the County Executive, the Office will drive change to make Milwaukee a great county for African Americans and will seek to empower the African American community to achieve positive, longterm, sustainable outcomes. It will do so through an honest assessment of today’s conditions and tomorrow’s possibilities. It will demonstrate the courage to address complex and difficult issues in a well-rounded manner, it will exercise the discipline to maintain a focus on quality decision-making, the use of best practices, and an efficient and effective service delivery model. It will have the humility needed to work with the community and other stakeholders in a way that respects all points of view and acknowledges the contributions of all, to both Milwaukee County’s challenges and collective driven solutions.
In accomplishing its mission, the Office will focus both on the internal workings of Milwaukee County government as well as the conditions of the Milwaukee County community at-large through public, private, corporate, and philanthropic partnerships. While racial issues are complex and interrelated, a key component of any successful strategy for improving those conditions will be policies and programs that are equitable and inclusive. The Office’s top three priorities of focus for 2018 are: economic growth, social justice initiatives, and youth re-engagement.
The ambitious mission of the Office on African American Affairs cannot be accomplished by Milwaukee County alone. This is why the Office will lead a strategy that uses robust partnerships throughout the community to conduct a collective impact approach to its mission. The first step in a successful collective impact approach, aside from assessing current community resources and building partnerships, is hearing from the community.
Finally, OAAA will build strategic alliances with the wider community to drive a collaborative effort across all units of government at the local, regional, state, and federal levels. Director Brookshire recognizes that creating an inclusive Racial Equity Plan must include all elected officials – at every level. Moving forward OAAA will lead the organization’s equity initiatives by addressing racial bias in organizational culture and decision-making through the implementation and use of racial equity tools, trainings and evidenced based models. OAAA aims to improve racial equity in: operations, fiscal appropriations, IS systems, policies and programs, legislation, workforce, organizational culture and community engagement.
Nicole M. Brookshire – a Milwaukee native – was appointed as the first director of Milwaukee County’s Office on African American Affairs (OAAA) in July 2017 and confirmed in September 2017. Mrs. Brookshire has an established track record of success in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. Prior to joining the County, she served with Junior Achievement of Wisconsin as the Vice President of Operations, overseeing statewide operations of 12 district offices, supporting the organization’s initiative to grow education programs and partnerships. She is a seasoned operational executive who demonstrates enthusiasm in implementing process improvement techniques, leadership and strategic planning skills. She came to Milwaukee County with more than 19 years of corporate and government experience with an extensive background in audit, compliance, operations and team development.
Nicole has held several leadership roles within Milwaukee, Wisconsin, including Grants Compliance Manager for the City of Milwaukee and national field operations with Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation. Nicole holds a master’s degree in business management with a concentration in accounting. She resides in the community with her husband and three beautiful children.
During Mrs. Brookshire’s confirmation hearing she continually stressed the importance of collaboration, which she will build upon during her tenure. “No one person can accomplish these things alone. I look forward to working with the County Board, County Executive, other elected and appointed officials, County residents, community service providers, the faith-based community, foundations, and the private sector. The office will need every sector of the community to work together on shared mutual goals, to achieve the challenges, set before us.”