Madison Region Economic Partnership: Announces Jason Fields as next CEO

The Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP) Board of Directors has selected Jason M. Fields, CCRS, CFEI to succeed Paul Jadin, CEcD as president and CEO of the economic development organization. Fields, a finance professional and outgoing Wisconsin State Legislator, will begin serving as MadREP’s president and CEO on Jan. 4.

Fields brings exceptional leadership and an impressive track record of collaboration that will lead the organization through completing Advance Now 2.0, the Madison Region’s comprehensive economic development strategy.

“I, like so many other Wisconsinites, have enjoyed watching the Madison Region’s growth these last several years,” said Fields. “It’s with great enthusiasm that I join the MadREP team to play a pivotal role in that evolution.”

MadREP specializes in seizing financially advantageous development opportunities across an eight-county region, so Fields’ varied expertise is interpretive to his appointment.

“Jason will inherit a capable staff and an ambitious strategic plan to grow the Region,” said retiring MadREP CEO Paul Jadin. “It’s been an honor to serve the Region these last eight years and I look forward to watching it continue to flourish under Jason’s leadership.”

In addition to his legislative work, he is the founder and managing director of Dark Knight Capital Ventures, where he and his colleagues make an active effort to loop more racial minorities, women and other historically underserved founders into the market. Fields also is the CEO of The Financial Promise Foundation Inc., which has a mission of building personal financial and business literacy within the communities it serves.

“I’m thrilled to welcome Jason to MadREP,” said Juli Aulik, MadREP board chair-elect and UW Health community affairs director. “His experience in business and finance, having started a venture capital fund, business consulting firm, and experience directly in the banking and securities industry will be an asset to our organization.” Fields is the founder and managing director of Dark Knight Capital Ventures, CEO of The Financial Promise Foundation, Inc. and has previously served as a licensed branch manager, stockbroker and investment banking associate.

Biden Nominated Retired Gen. Lloyd Austin for Defense Secretary, a First for an African American


President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin to be defense secretary, according to three people familiar with the decision.

If confirmed, Austin, 67, a retired four-star general and former head of U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, would be the first African American to lead the Defense Department. He was also the first Black American to lead Central Command, which oversees the U.S. military in the Middle East and parts of Africa, Central Asia and South Asia.

Austin’s relationship with Biden goes back years. The two spent many hours working together when Austin was running CENTCOM. The Biden team sees Austin as someone with deep knowledge and experience at the Defense Department and believe he would be able to hit the job running once confirmed, said a source familiar with the decision process.

If he is confirmed by the Senate, Austin would require a congressional waiver to serve as defense secretary because he retired less than seven years ago.

National ‘Love Takes Action’ Award Provides $50,000 to Omega School

The Capital Times

Omega School will receive $50,000 thanks to a national award received by the adult education school’s executive director for his local work in response to the pandemic and protests for racial justice.

Oscar Mireles received the “Love Takes Action” award, which was presented by the New York Life Foundation in celebration of the New York Life Insurance Company’s 175th anniversary. 

The company asked its agents and employees to nominate individuals who “embody the value of selfless love and are serving their communities in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic,” and 35 winners were selected from the 130 nominees. 

Mireles was nominated by Alex Aderman, a Madison-based senior development manager for the company and one of a handful of young people Mireles mentors. Aderman told the Cap Times he’d been impressed with Omega School since meeting Mireles at a networking event in 2013. He’s since volunteered and helped organize a backpack drive in 2019.

When the company announced the competition in spring, “the first person that popped in my head was Oscar,” Aderman said. “I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to help, beyond the volunteer time, and be able to provide financial impact for him.”

In addition to keeping Omega School running through the pandemic by moving its high school equivalency classes online, Mireles worked to help the city respond to local protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.

Rashida Jones Named Next President of MSNBC. 

She is the First Black Person to Run a Major Cable News Network

NBC News

Rashida Jones will become president of MSNBC, and the current president, Phil Griffin, will step down after 25 years at the cable news channel, NBCUniversal News Group Chairman Cesar Conde.

Jones, who will take over at MSNBC on Feb. 1, is a senior vice president at NBC News and MSNBC, where she leads breaking news and major events coverage. She also oversees MSNBC’s daytime and weekend programming. She will become the most prominent Black woman in the cable news industry.

“Rashida knows and understands MSNBC, in part because it’s where she started when she first joined NBCU seven years ago,” Conde wrote in an email to NBC News employees. “She knows that it is the people who work here that make it great, and she understands its culture. She also appreciates the impact and potential of the brand.”

Conde noted that in the past year Jones has helped guide MSNBC’s coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic, the unrest and social justice protests that broke out over the treatment of Black Americans and the 2020 election. She also helped with two influential series at the network, “Justice for All” and “Climate in Crisis.”

Jones was part of the team that helped NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker prepare for her role as moderator in the final presidential debate of 2020. Griffin started with NBC News 35 years ago as a producer on the “TODAY” show.

Jones’ promotion, the first major executive appointment by Conde, comes after he announced a goal this year for the staff of NBC News to be made up of 50 percent women and 50 percent people of color. He didn’t put a deadline on the initiative.

Jones takes over at an uncertain time for cable news. MSNBC’s ratings grew during President Donald Trump’s tenure and in the run-up to the presidential election. But it’s unclear how the network will fare during a Joe Biden presidency, as cable viewership overall continues to decline.

Rep. Stubbs Elected to Chair Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus

Rep. Shelia Stubbs, D-Madison, 77th Assembly District, was selected by fellow members of the Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus (WLBC) to become the next caucus Chair. She will be the first representative from Dane County to chair the WLBC since its creation in 1955. 

“I am honored to have the confidence of my colleagues to chair the Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus throughout this next legislative session,” said Stubbs. “I want to thank previous leaders in the WLBC for paving the way forward, and creating caucus that allows Black voices to be effective within the Wisconsin State Legislature.”

Since 1955, the WLBC has continued to foster diversity within state government, and advocate for what matters to people of color in Wisconsin. Groundbreaking leaders such as congresswoman Gwen Moore, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes have been a part of this caucus, and their continued success has improved the lives of many across our state. 

“As the next WLBC chair, I am honored to continue the fight for racial justice across all issues, and tackle the public health crisis of racism that continues to plague our communities,” Stubbs said. “The members of the WLBC are among some of the hardest working legislators in this building. As Chair, I will work diligently to support their continued success, and ensure that our voices hold weight within the broader Wisconsin Legislature. This growing caucus of dedicated leaders is set up for success, and I am honored to help ensure that it happens. Together, we will be able to create real change, and pass meaningful legislation.”

Joining Representative Stubbs in WLBC leadership is Rep.-Elect Dora Drake, D-Milwaukee, 11th Assembly District, as vice chair, Rep.-Elect Samba Baldeh, D-Madison, 48th Assembly District, as secretary, and Rep. Kalan Haywood, D-Milwaukee, 16th Assembly District, as treasurer.

David Dinkins, Who Broke Barriers
as 1st and Only Black Mayor of New York Has Died

David Dinkins, New York City’s first Black mayor, who offered himself as a peacemaker to a troubled city, died on Nov. 23 at his home on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He was 93. The history-making mayor’s passing came less than two months after Mr. Dinkins’s wife, Joyce Dinkins, died at 89.

Dinkins broke barriers with his 1989 election, managing to defeat three-term incumbent Ed Koch during the Democratic primary that year and later went on to defeat Rudy Giuliani by the narrowest electoral margin in New York City history: 47,000 votes. Giuliani would go on to defeat Dinkins for the position four years later, in a campaign that was rife with racial overtones.

A Washington Post profile of Mr. Dinkins called his candidacy in 1989 a preface to a “healing interlude for a city wracked by years of racial tension.”  He worked to unite a divided city as it battled a high crime rate, after his graduation from Howard University and Brooklyn Law School. During his term as mayor from 1990 to 1993, Dinkins vowed to be “mayor of all the people of New York,” and declared: “We are all foot soldiers on the march to freedom.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called Dinkins “a remarkable civic leader” who served the city “with the hope of unity and a deep kindness.”

Dr. Floyd Rose receives Rotary Club of Madison’s 2020 Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award

Dr. Floyd Rose, president of 100 Black Men of Madison, received the 39th annual Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award, which commemorates the community contributions of the late Rabbi Swarsensky, a Rotary member of 22 years.

The purpose of the award is to identify and honor individuals who have, through their voluntary efforts, made a particularly outstanding contribution to humanitarian service as exemplified by the life of Rabbi Swarsensky. For decades Rose’s active voice in education in the Madison community has been his avocation—always working in partnerships to help others do better for themselves. 

Rose is alluded for his efforts in seeking  to find solutions with the Madison Metropolitan School District and families surrounding the persistent educational achievement gap between white students and students of color. And, as leader of 100 Black Men of Madison, he sees that members of this organization are role models for the community. 

They attend schools in the Madison Metropolitan School District on the first day of class to welcome students and their parents to the school year. In preparation for school, for 26 years they have led the “Annual Back to School Celebration” campaign providing free backpacks AND school supplies for students from limited-income families. When schools transitioned to virtual education, the backpack project promptly transitioned into Project 3000, which represents the 3,000 local students in families with limited incomes.

The tasks before them were immediate. Rose recognized that virtual learning at home requires more than a student and a laptop. The entire family needs to be supported in their student’s academic pursuits. Parents and caregivers require resources necessary to facilitate learning. Families need technical and guidance support Project 3000 works with families to ensure that each student has an internet installation and access—and a plan to sustain service and utilities. When appropriate, parents, caregivers and students are provided with basic computer training. This support includes mentoring, educational coaching and tutoring. Rose recognized that this level of attention is important to ensure that all school-age students have the necessary educational support to be successful.

Along with this award, a $2,500 grant was presented by the Madison Rotary Foundation to an agency of the recipient’s choice. Rose selected the Community Grants Campaign of the Madison Rotary Foundation to receive this grant.

Harvard Elects 1st Black Man
As Student Body President


After 384 years, Harvard University has finally elected its first Black student body president. In a move toward more diversity at the Ivy League school, Mississippi native Noah Harris is the history-making student body president and his vice president will be Jenny Gan, who is Asian-American. 

“Me being a Black man from Mississippi is not something that I run from,” Harris, 20, told CBS Boston. “It was a historic election and for it to come in a year of so many racial injustices with George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and people who were taken from our communities, it makes it that much more of a statement on the part of Harvard and the student body.”

Harvard College admitted its first students in 1636. It did not admit a Black undergraduate until it admitted Beverly Garnett Williams in 1847. She died of tuberculosis before she could attend. Harvard’s next Black student did not arrive until Richard Theodore Greener in 1870.

The prestigious school’s undergraduate student body is now 7.8% African American, 17.8% Asian-American, and 11.5% Hispanic, according to Harris says the election of more diverse leadership in its student government shows the direction the school’s population is going.

“It’s a message to the university that we really have to be conscious about the decisions that we’re making and how we’re standing with all of our students of color and making sure that their college experience and just their livelihoods are as good as possible when a university like Harvard has so many resources.”

Miami Herald Names Monica Richardson 1st Black Executive Editor in Paper’s History

Miami Herald

The Miami Herald’s parent company named a new executive editor to lead its newsrooms in Florida — a 30-year veteran of the news business, with expertise in Metro reporting and a specialization in digital news.

Monica R. Richardson, who worked as senior managing editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, joined the Miami Herald Jan. 1 as its top editor, according to a McClatchy news release.

Richardson will be the first Black executive editor in the Herald’s 117-year history.

“I’m pleased to be working in a newsroom where journalism is the core mission of everything. That’s what drives me in my career. It’s the passion,” she said. “I wouldn’t be coming to Miami if I didn’t see that passion for journalism.”

Richardson, 50, will focus on growing the media company’s audience and digital subscriptions, according to McClatchy, and promote the journalism produced by the newspaper’s award-winning newsrooms. She will also oversee el Nuevo Herald and the Bradenton Herald, and operate as McClatchy’s Florida regional editor.

Richardson, originally from Charlottesville, Virginia, is a veteran journalist and editor. She has worked at the Charlottesville Observer, Florida Times-Union, and Lexington Herald-Leader over her nearly 30-year career.

She has spent the last 15 years at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she was the paper’s digital managing editor before her promotion in 2018 to senior managing editor.

Richardson has been named among the Atlanta Business League’s Top 100 Women of Influence in consecutive years and has served as a juror to the national Pulitzer Prize board.