Justified Anger, the coalition of African-American leaders working to address racial disparities in Dane County, is adding a new director of program growth and community engagement thanks to a unique agreement with a local company.
TDS Telecom is loaning one of its executives, Patrick Yates, on a part-time basis, to "manage oversight of the day-to-day operations of Justified Anger," according to a press release.
Yates has more than two decades of experience managing projects for TDS. He's currently the manager of diversity and inclusion in the company's human resources department.
Under the new arrangement, Yates will spend 60 percent of his time, or three days a week, working with Justified Anger and 40 percent of his time with TDS. He started working with the group on Feb. 1 and will do so for a year.
The two partners said they hope the agreement will prompt other businesses to work to reduce racial disparities in the county, which are some of the worst in the nation.
Yates' involvement "allows us to stretch our resources," said Rev. Alex Gee, founder of the Justified Anger coalition. While Gee has spent much of his time building relationships with funders, he said, Yates will manage and implement much of the on-the-ground programs.
Last May, the coalition rolled out its "Our Madison Plan," a framework for addressing racial disparities which focused on five areas: economic development, education, incarceration, family and community wellness, and leadership and capacity development.
"As part of a bold new initiative, we applaud TDS for their interest in creating solutions to reduce racial disparities in Dane County," Gee said in a statement. He said "other local corporate executives would be wise to follow TDS' lead."
"We are proud to be investing in this creative and revolutionary approach," Dave Wittwer, president and CEO at TDS, said in a statement. "We want to improve our efforts and we're willing to try something new and different to get it done. I hope other business leaders will join us to reduce racial disparity in Madison."
Closing such gaps will improve community relations, Gee said, and "go a long way toward helping the overall economy."
"These are the kinds of things that give me hope in the community," he said.
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