IF you missed out on our 3rd Annual F.I.R.E. Awards (Females In Recognition of Excellence) 1. Save the date for next year, Sunday June 23rd 2019. 2. Here’s a recap of our honorees.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP: JAELA GOHAGA, a ten year old entrepreneur from Milwaukee, began cutting up her clothes at the age of 5. This was shortly after her dad bought her a build a bear that she introduced to her family as “Sierra.” She was making clothes for her BFF, Sierra. When Jaela cut up a handmade
keepsake from her late great great grandmother her mom honed in on her gift. By six Jaela was making tutus and giving them to her friends at church. She drew designs for dresses, skirts, etc. so her mother started a small business and online boutique so Jaela could sell her tutus. Jaela was a designer in the 3rd Annual “I Witnessed It All Hair & Fashion Show hosted by celebrity hair stylist Sundra D. Her 23 Models & 23 designs of galaxy and unicorn tutus led Betty Brinn Museum to invite her to be a designer in their Kids Holiday Show. This year she taught tutu making to girls who made Valentine’s Day tutus. They were delivered to Children’s Hospital as a gift for other little girls. Jaela prayed over the tutus and declared healing over every little girl that would touch them. She’s an exceptional 4th grade student who plays basketball for Chapman Basketball Academy, loves to write, praise dance & sings. In the future Jaela wants to have a physical store & a Mobile Boutique. She dreams of becoming a doctor and one day opening her own restaurant.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Sharlen Moore has committed her life to building and sustaining grassroots leadership for change. She has a
passion for community justice, which led to her co-founding Urban Underground in 2000, a nationally recognized grassroots youth development organization
whose members have been at the forefront of youth-led social change in Milwaukee and the region. She is also the founding member of Youth Justice Milwaukee which is a broad-based youth decarceration campaign advocating for the creation of community-based, family-centered, restorative programs as an alternative to locking up youth in Wisconsin prisons. Sharlen’s efforts have touched the lives of countless youth and have inspired a new generation of young leaders that will carry forth the struggle for justice and equality. Sharlen currently serves as Director of Urban Underground and founding member of Youth Justice Milwaukee, located in Milwaukee, WI.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Zion Rogers is 14 years old will be enrolling at Rufus King HS in the fall. She is the founder and director of the Northstar
Action and Culture Committee, a student group that facilitates socioculturally conscious presentations and events for schools and community organizations. Zion is a youth activist/organizer whose writings on race and culture have been featured in local blogs and editorials. She was also a featured youth speaker at the 2017 Milwaukee Black Women’s Empowerment March and the 2018 Wisconsin Women’s March.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Markasa Tucker is an activist that has been a huge spark in the Milwaukee terrain. Her work as an activist started
after joining Wisconsin Voices in 2014 as Office Administrator and was later promoted to Officer Manager. After Dontre Hamilton was killed by Milwaukee Police
Markasa became a central force with the Coalition for Justice which formed after Dontre’s death. In August 2017 Markasa was promoted to Director of the African
American Roundtable (AART). AART is a project of Wisconsin Voices and is a network of powerful partners that collaborate and support one another to demonstrate
people power and amplify the voices in the community. She has been a key influence in pushing for social and racial justice and overall success of the organization. She is a former member of the National Association of Black Journalists and served as a secretary and president of the Wisconsin Black Media Association. Markasa has her B.A. in Mass Communications. She is the founder and CEO of The Alternative, Inc, and one of the co-founders of UBLAC (Uplifting Black Liberation and Community). Markasa is the proud mother of 10 year old Zoe Isabella.
PERSEVERANCE: Madison “Maddie” Coulter met MSK at 81st Street School in 2014 while on a long road of trauma. Imagine being a
young girl, raped, molested and abused in ways you can’t imagine. These things led her to toxic relationships and self inflicted harm. She fought with those around her dismissing their feelings and smothering her truth. She hurt those who loved her because those who hurt her couldn’t feel her pain. Kicked out of every house, she hated everyone. She found herself way behind in high school credits. By 17 she was only a sophomore but she didn’t giveup! In summer school she met a teacher who encouraged online education. She took the steps to enroll. The first month was hard, doing AP classes, but she completed one class in 20 days. She just kept pushing and graduated number 68 of her Transition HS class with a 3.0 and 23 credits. “Don’t ever let nobody tell you that you can’t do it. No matter how hard life
gets, if you have a great support system, a positive mindset, and a connection to God you will get through”.
PERSEVERANCE: LaVerne Badger carries many hats but her passion and purpose is to change the cycle of Domestic Abuse one conversation at a time using a platform she created called “LaVerne’s Let’s Talk”. Her mission is to Educate, Empower and Prevent the rise of Domestic Abuse. LaVerne survived a 13 year relationship that involved physical and mental abuse. She witnessed her mother being shot and killed right in front of her at 14 years old, she moved between foster
homes and she gave birth to 4 children by the time she was 21 years old. During that time she lost her Faith, Confidence, Will to Live, Self-Worth and Self-Esteem. She was BROKEN! Through those trials and tribulations God started to build her in ways she couldn’t have imagine. Today, LaVerne see’s the influence she is having
on others as she moves in her God given assignment to educate against all forms of domestic abuse, empower teens/young adults on healthy dating and incorporate our MEN in the strategic process to ending domestic abuse. LaVerne Badger: She has built an astounding 14 year career with the USDA Forest Service as a Budget Analyst She is a wife of 13 years, a mother of a blended family of 8 children and 11 grandchildren. She is a Graduate of Concordia University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management & Human Resource Management She is an author of “Overcoming the Darkness: Sur viving Domestic Violence, director & producer of short film and Founder of “LaVerne’s Let ’s Talk” (LLT), a platform for hard discussions around domestic abuse. She has spoken in front of many groups and organizations including, the Milwaukee Police Academy – Special Crimes Unit. She is a Voices Committee member at Sojourner Family Peace Center Last but not least, LaVerne Badger a Domestic Violence & Abuse SURVIVOR!
JOSIE MAE THOMAS: Venice R. Williams is the Executive Direc tor of Alice’s Garden Urban Farm in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is also a Minister in the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, serving in Milwaukee for 29 years. She has just birthed a new congregation called The Table: a first-century-style community in the twenty-first century. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Venice attributes her passion for food, farms, faith, and community, to her parents, both sets of grandparents, and her paternal great-grandparents, all of whom nurtured and nourished her understanding of what it means to care
for the Earth, its elements, and all of its creatures.
SISTAHOOD: Imani Ray is a life-long learner and young emerging entrepreneur, committed to empowerment and community impact. Imani is celebrating her 5th year as the owner of her own business, Natural E Beautiful. Natural E Beautiful aims to encourage women to embrace their natural beauty and utilize their skills and abilities to create the life they desire. She is also currently a student at, Alverno College, where she studies sociology with a minor in adult education and training. As she finishes her degree she continues building her business towards social responsibility and financial success. She hopes one day that her business will be a household name and a global brand that gives other young women the ability to dream big and recognize their beauty. She credits a huge part of her success to her family who supports her in every way possible, her community for providing her with the resources and skills to build a foundation for success.
SISTAHOOD: Danielle Williams is the Creator, Founder & CEO of Dream Keepers, Inc. Dream Keepers is a non-profit organization and fast growing Women’s Empowerment Movement with a continuous emphasis on positivity, happiness, and beauty. Danielle’s empowerment brand has launched several successful events with celebrity guest appearances and speakers such as Yandy Smith and Angela Simmons. Born in Milwaukee, Danielle graduated from Bradley Tech High School
and earned her Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education in 2010. Following her passion for teaching and educating children, she later became the Co-Owner and Director of the Transitional Development Child Learning Center. In 2015 she moved to Texas to pursue a career in modeling. Now a recognized published model, she looks forward to her appearances in several magazines. Danielle’s goal is to use her modeling platform to inspire other women to follow their dreams. That doesn’t stop her from toggling between homes to continue to bring Dream Keepers camps to Milwaukee youth and empowering events to Milwaukee adults. Danielle is a Finance Coach and Licensed Life Insurance Agent in both Wisconsin and Texas. She is the District Team Leader for a fast growing team of individuals dedicated to serving the clients’ insurance needs.
IMAGE: Payton Stovall, 17, attends Whitefish Bay High School. She was a youth leader at Urban Underground where she coordinated reports for Youth Rise Magazine, which provided positive youth stories within Milwaukee. She is a big believer in youth voice, supporting young people in her community to follow their dreams no matter what. She is a Youth Advocate for health in the state of Wisconsin through PATCH, the founder of “The Mix” group at her school; a group that talks about race working towards the common goal of understanding each individual race, and has been through the Money Coach program through Make A Difference Wisconsin, allowing her to speak on many panels about managing your money at a young age. Also she acts with The Milwaukee Repertory Theater in the PTI (Professional Training Institute) program. Payton is involved in many other activities inside and outside of school such as the church praise team, the school musical, track & field team, per forming arts camp at Alabama State University ever y summer and works at Elite Sports in the children’s playroom when available. Payton is an athlete, singer, actress and many more. She has dedicated her life to excelling in her passion. She enjoys working with children and teaching them the importance of expressing themselves through the things that they love. Payton would like to continue to help better Milwaukee as well as branch off into new cities and tackle new adventures.
IMAGE: Betty M. Hill, a native of Milwaukee, WI and Mother to Arianna Hill, is the proud daughter of Rodney Hill and Betty Peterson. Her 4 siblings have all had a major impact in her development and where she is today. Betty is a Graduate of Alverno College and her current role is in a Mentoring Program as a Recruitment and Retention Specialist and Case Manager. At an early age Betty knew
that she had a passion for people to feel well, live well and be well. Alverno ignited her fire in social change and politics and provided direction and resources to put her feelings into action. In 2015 Betty founded her non-profit organization Power Gurlz. The program is designed to prepare girls age 6-12 for community leadership, service, development, social change, organizing and more. Betty realizes that empowering our girls at an early age is necessary. Through workshops, crafts, activities, and giving back, Power Gurlz continue to successfully build relationships with students, communities, families and their peers. Power Gurlz has strong community supporters and partners such as Purposed Filled Purses, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Urban Underground and many more. She volunteers at her church home, Parklawn Assembly of God, Cass street School, Milwaukee Center For Independence, Milwaukee Christian Center, Project Hope’s Youth Conference and Girl Power, The Alternative Inc Community Ar ts Engagement, Black Women’s Empowerment March planning committee. She participates in social justice marches, community clean up, and rallies for change. Although much has been accomplished, Betty is not content as there is so much more to be done, as she aspires to create change in our criminal justice systems and policies. Betty has only scratch the surface and will continue to be a positive image in our communities!
ARTS: Saleaqua Winston is a theatre major Graduate of Milwaukee High School of the Arts. She is a local Artist who has lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her Mom, Dad, and dog (Homie). Just after being notified of this award her father passed. He will continue to live on through memories, stories and the talented artist that he called daughter. She loves acting, music, writing and performing poetry. She was an ensemble member for the Milwaukee Rep’s PTI program 2016/2017 season and is currently a member for the 2017/2018 season. PTI’s summer play, “Lost Girl” is a new play written by Kimberly Belflower in which Saleaqua is casted as Mother. She has won an Outstanding Actor award from Wisconsin’s One-Act Play Festival competition and has also won 2nd place at the 2017 Wisconsin state
“Poetry Out Loud” competition. She is planning to attend UWM for a BFA in Acting and also plans to pursue her career as a professional actor, writer, and performer.
ARTS: Tia Richardson, owner of Cosmic Butterfly Design, is a full-time community mural artist based in Milwaukee. Since
2007 she has developed visual ar ts programming for murals with a collaborative, therapeutic approach centered on emotional well-being. Tia is certified in Trauma-Informed Care from First Aid Ar ts and has worked with youth and adults in a variety of settings, including public schools, social services agencies, neighborhood organizations, the juvenile justice system, after-care centers, and grassroots
collectives. She tailors programs according to the needs of each organization, and has worked in a variety of themes related to building healthy self-esteem; creative community empowerment, the environment, social issues and academics. Richardson has completed more than 30 collaborative murals and other creative projects. Most recently, with participation from over 150 community members, she painted a 56-foot long mural, Sherman Park Rising, depicting ways the community is restoring hope after the unrest. This process led to the production of a documentary short selected to screen at the Beloit International Film Festival. She was also featured in a Wisconsin Life public television segment, Artist Paints her City in a Positive Light, nominated for a producer’s 2017 Ar ts/Culture/Entertainment Midwest Emmy.