What would you do if you were given the opportunity to help African American youth excel to the highest levels of achievement? If you were given the chance to help young people reach goals they thought to be unimaginable, what strategies would you employ? This question was one that was posed at the Milwaukee Center for Leadership Development’s (MCLD) Annual Achievers Dinner, recently held at the JA Kohl’s Education Center.
The theme of the evening was “Building Community, Leaving a Legacy”- a phrase coined by the MCLD in an effort to increase the awareness of the need for community collaboration and the delivery of quality programs in the schools and the after school programs.
“We need organizations that are providing training in key areas that will help our children succeed overall in life and we need the help of the community to put these things in place,” said State Representative Jason Fields, “not just a place for them to stay busy after school.”
The more than 100 people, who were in attendance, were hushed as Tamiko Jordan-Obregon, the MCLD executive director explained in great detail, some of the areas of concern. “Our children need to know how to communicate properly; how to look people in their eyes when speaking to them; and how to dress properly for interviews.
“The turquoise-green suits matched with the matching alligator shoes worn on Easter Sunday, will simply not do at a job interview. Visible tattoos, unkempt or unusually colored hair, and a lack of command of Standard American English are all hindrances.” Her deliberate honesty appeared to have shocked the crowd, but was clearly accepted as evidenced by the numerous nods of agreement.
The event featured speaker Melanie Cosgrove Holmes, vice president of the World of Work Solutions, a division of the ManpowerGroup™. Holmes detailed the need to develop quality talent now with those who will be able to fill future positions.
“Fifty-two percent of employers in 2011 compared to 14% of employers in 2010 are having difficulty finding quality talent,” Holmes said. “Developing interpersonal, communication and soft skills are critical. The MCLD is definitely on the right track.”
The Milwaukee Center for Leadership Development delivers high quality leadership programs that encourage African American youth to excel to the highest levels of achievement. While the turnout at the dinner was very encouraging, there is still a great need to fund the leadership program that will be launched in January 2012.
“We need a champion; we need someone to step up and sponsor the Executive Youth Leadership Training program. We need an organization that is willing to color outside the lines and support a program that is new to Milwaukee, yet, it is based on a model that has been successful for more than 30 years,” Jordan-Obregon said.
Gary Goyke, a longtime supporter of civil and human rights was honored at the dinner and given the first MCLD Achievers Award. “I believe in what they are trying to do. The programs offered are needed in Milwaukee and I will continue to support them as we seek to realize real change.”