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New CEO and president of the African American Leadership Alliance Milwaukee shares his vision

African American Leadership Alliance Milwaukee
Candid of Walter Lanier at an African American Leadership Alliance Milwaukee event.

Milwaukee consistently ranks as one of the worst places to live as an African American person. Research like a 2020 study from the African American Leadership Alliance Milwaukee (AALAM) that examined the community well-being in 50 cities, including Milwaukee, showed that Milwaukee ranked dead last for the well-being of our city's Black community.

There are many people in the city working to change that, like Walter Lanier.

For more than a decade, Lanier has been working to make Milwaukee a better environment for Black leaders to grow. At the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), he helped form the Men of Color Initiative, was the co-chair for the African American Network and helped spearhead the formation of an anti-racism coalition to address institutional racism at the college.

Now, after 13 years at MATC, Lanier has left to become the CEO and president of the African American Leadership Alliance Milwaukee.

"My goal is always to have [an] impact wherever I go and have [a] big impact wherever I go, not just for my benefit, but for the benefit of whatever mission or organization I'm working with," Lanier explains. "Thirteen years at MATC was a blessing to be there."

He says he thinks he's left a solid legacy and a strong foundation for others to build on.

Lanier recounts how he managed MATC's multicultural department, which saw an emphasis on African American, Asian American, Southeast Asian, Hispanic, Latino, and also Native American students under his leadership.

It's that same energy, he points outs, that he hopes to bring to his new job as CEO and president at AALAM to support the growth of Black leadership in the entire city.

"This transition now allows me to do the same thing on a broader scale in the sense that the whole mission now is Milwaukee," says Lanier. "And really to do a similar thing: build relationships, convene, connect to the catalyst being influenced or broker through this institution to elevate Black Milwaukee."

While referencing AALAM's 2020 study, Lanier emphasizes that brutal honesty amongst all Milwaukeeans is needed to make institutional change. "It's not just Black Milwaukee that is at the bottom, but it's Milwaukee. It's all of us," he says.

Mallory Cheng was a Lake Effect producer from 2021 to 2023.
Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
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