Erica Nelson is the Director of the Race to Equity Project, an initiative to dramatically reduce racial disparities in Dane County, Wisconsin (Madison) and throughout the rest of the state. The multi-year project, which was launched in 2012, has resulted in a vast increase in public awareness of the community’s deep racial inequalities, generated scores of public and private policy and practice initiatives to advance inclusion and equity, and fostered the development a widely embraced comprehensive community plan to level the playing field and improve outcomes for the region’s families and children of color. The Project is part of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families.
Before taking up this work, Erica practiced public interest law for three years in New York City, representing low-income families involved in the child welfare system in Manhattan Family Court. Her legal work followed a six year career as a dancer/choreographer with New York-based contemporary ballet companies.
Erica received her BA Degree in history from the University of Wisconsin in 1994 and her Juris Doctorate from Rutgers Law School in 2004. She as well as the Race to Equity Team are the recipients of numerous honors and awards, including recently: Urban League of Greater Madison’s Whitney Young Award in 2014; the Rainbow Project’s Extra Mile Award in 2014; her selection as a “Woman to Watch in 2015” by BRAVA Magazine; the 2015 “M Awards for Social Innovation” to Race to Equity; and the Liesl Blockstein 2016 Community Leadership Award presented by Community Shares of Central Wisconsin. Erica is a frequent presenter and speaker on race, social justice and family policy issues.
Erica and her two children, Nia and Nelson, live in Madison, Wisconsin.
Michelle Robinson is the Research, Data and Policy Associate for the Race to Equity Project. She is a dissertator in the Department of Sociology, a graduate fellow at the Institute for Research on Poverty, and a training fellow with the Wisconsin Center for Education Research’s Institutes for Education Sciences’ Interdisciplinary Training Program in Educational Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
As a quantitative sociologist she is interested in racial inequality and social stratification, and their relation to the development of societal institutions, social and public policy, and the State. Michelle has published in peer-refereed journals such as Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis (EEPA) and the American Journal of Education (AJE). This research, methodologically rooted in randomized-control trials, has focused on: 1) how training educators to effectively and competently leverage data to inform curricular decision can help improve student outcomes and 2) examining how the racial/ethnic and language background structures how teachers and parents perceive each other, their relationship with each other, and the effectiveness of a family engagement program for overcoming such structural barriers to help improve these relationships.
In her dissertation, she takes a place-based approach and examines how the interaction of changing racial and ethnic composition, and the local political economy — specifically as it relates to housing and education as social goods — constructs demographic diversity into a social problem generating and demanding institutional and policy responses. She explores the consequences of these responses for understanding local configurations of contemporary racial inequality.
Michelle brings to our work over a decade of experience in research, data, evaluation and policy and expertise of topics related to race and racisms, inequality, stratification, diversity and inclusion and racial equity at the city, state, and federal levels—within and outside of academia. Her experience includes working on issues and programmatic responses related to recruitment and retention in regards to the high school-to-college pipeline among low-income students in the state of Texas at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board; assisting with the development of research studies and statistical analysis pertaining to context of the educational systems in our nation at the National Center for Education Statistics and the American Institutes for Research; as well as supporting the successful education of middle and high school youth involved in the criminal justice system as a member of AmeriCorps at an alternative school in the Austin Independent School District.
She currently holds a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Texas at Austin and a M.S. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In her free time, drawing on her Texan and Louisianan Creole southern roots, she enjoys cooking and entertaining her husband, family members and friends.
Wenona Wolf is Ojibwe and grew up on the St. Croix Chippewa reservation in northwest Wisconsin. Wolf is a vocal advocate for Native communities and communities of color and draws on her expertise and experiences in public policy, advocacy, and non-profits to challenge systems that have historically oppressed people of color—particularly women of color. Wolf is dedicated to amplifying the voices of women of color and bringing issues related to Indigenous communities to the forefront.
Currently, Wolf serves on the leadership team at Race to Equity and Kids Forward as the Communication and Development Manager where she manages all of the organization’s fundraising efforts and oversees its external communication and media relations. Wolf also advises the organization on Native American policy. Wolf uses her passion to translate complex public policy issues and matters related to racial equity to help build the political will needed to break down barriers of success for people of color. Prior to working with Kids Forward, Wolf worked in government relations with the St. Croix Chippewa.
In addition to her job at Kids Forward, Wolf serves as the Board President for Community Shares of Wisconsin and also sits on the Board of Directors for We Are Healers, the Bayview Foundation, and the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health. She also advises the Wisconsin Women’s Network on advancement efforts and has previously served as a mentor for the organization’s public policy institute.
In 2017, Wolf received the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development 40 Under 40 Award and was honored by the Native American Journalists Association. She was also named a 2017 Brava Magazine Women to Watch and was honored by The Business Forum Madison as an ATHENA Young Professional Nominee.
She has spoken for organizations throughout the country including Lawrence University, the YWCA of Madison, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and the Association of American Indian Physicians. You can find articles authored by Wolf in Madison Magazine and Madison 365.
Wolf holds a B.S. in Communication Studies from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. In her free time, she likes to travel, enjoy Wisconsin’s beautiful outdoors, and stay up-to-date on politics.
You can follow her on Twitter: @TheRealWenona
Stephanie Muñoz is a Project and Community Engagement Associate with the Race to Equity Project. Stephanie is a graduate of the UW-Madison Masters of Social Work program with an emphasis in Children, Youth, and Families. She has vast experience serving families with a focus on the Latino community and immigrant services. She has also worked within local government and non-profit agencies to develop, analyze, and evaluate programs and policies. Her extensive work in communities fueled her interest in working towards system level change.
Stephanie moved to Madison from Los Angeles in 2006, the dramatic shift in the diversity of her surroundings quickly prompted her interest and passion for racial justice and social justice. She developed programming for Verona Area High School which worked to promote cultural diversity on campus. Throughout her undergraduate and graduate tenure, she volunteered with various on and off campus organizations that worked to promote social justice. She served as the VP of Events for the Latino Professionals Association from 2014-2017 and is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the YWCA Madison.
Stephanie lives in Madison with her partner Jerrod and their dog Blanquito “Quito”.
Christin Calloway is a Policy Associate with the Race to Equity Project. Through holistic community partnership and engagement, Christin works to bring synergy to a county-wide movement by facilitating collaboration, and supporting the development and operations of strategic partnerships designed to address the underlying, systemic and institutional drivers of racial inequity.
Christin graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Mississippi where she was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society and was a member of her class’s Hall of Fame. She earned her Master of Education in Education Policy and Management from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education in 2012. While at Harvard she served on the Dean’s Advisory Committee for Equity and Diversity and the Achievement Gap Initiative for the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy. She is currently working on her doctorate in Educational Policy Studies at The University of Wisconsin- Madison. As a doctoral student, Christin has worked as a research and project assistant for the Black Family- School Relationship Study, and the Wisconsin Scholars Longitudinal Study — for which a nationally-funded report on policies to improve access to and success in community colleges was produced.
Christin resides in Dane County with her husband, Kamal Calloway. In her spare time she enjoys crafting and scrap-booking.