Madison Urban League Exec Works Hard for the Workers

Mark Richardson puts his skills and energy in to helping people find jobs

When Mark Richardson came to Madison more than a decade ago, he rolled up his sleeves and got to work for the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce. That repuation caught the attention of former state Tourism secretary Kelli Trumble, who hired him on as her deputy. He served for two-plus years before moving on to the state Department of Commerce as division
administrator for housing and community development. Now he’s brought his leadership and management expertise back to the local level, taking on perhaps his most challenging and rewarding role yet: VP of economic and workforce development at the Urban League of Greater Madison.

The timing couldn’t be better. Since the League moved into its new building on the south side and hired visionary Kaleem Caire as its leader, its profile has been raised considerably. Today the Workforce Readiness Program that Richardson oversees serves more than 450 people, twice as many as last year. The training academy reaches a cross-section of individuals, from those who have exited the prison system and are looking to put their lives back together to those searching for skills training, job placement and career stability.

Richardson also oversees WorkSmart Access Point, a south-central Wisconsin network that coordinates computer-based resources for job seekers. “The program is run like a business,” he says. “It allows the Urban League to partner with local businesses in ways that we never thought possible. Quality training and support that focuses on getting people back to work.”

He also helps minority-owned businesses get off the ground and grow their workforce “It’s good to be able to lend your expertise to an organization that’s doing good things,” says Richardson.

THE VITALS

• Born in Chicago
• Degrees in English and humanities, minor in marketing, Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois
• Redistricting committee chair, city of Madison
• Board member, Downtown Madison Inc.
• Member, Madison Network of Black Professionals

The Breakdown

ROOM AT THE INNS
Supporters of Monona Terrace say the city needs a new high-rise hotel near the community and convention center to support larger conferences. But with low occupancy in most of the downtown hotels, perhaps strategic partnerships between current hotels around the Capitol Square could produce a win-win situation for everyone involved.

MIGHT MORE BE BETTER?
The Wisconsin State Journal recently ran a story about African American-owned nightclubs and bars. Despite the population doubling in size over the last twenty years, only two bars in Madison are owned by African Americans. While it’s been debated in some circles as to whether or not Black-owned bars have been treated fairly over the years, it’s good to see the State Journal at least ask the question.

TAUGHT THEM WELL
A big, juicy apple goes to Nancy Evans, former James C. Wright Middle School principal. She recently retired after thirty years in the Madison Metropolitan School District, starting as a teacher at Lincoln Elementary School and spending the last seven years leading Wright. Her lasting impact on all of her students will not be forgotten.

Derrell Connor hosts “Outreach” on NewsTalk 1310 WIBA, pens a column for Channel 3000 and freelances for Madison Magazine.

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