Meet Our Leaders!

Monicka Whitehead

Monicka Whitehead has been in Madison for over 20 years and has seen a lot of transformation take place. As a Chicago native she has experienced first hand how transformative community engagement can truly change the lives of local families. For Monika, a resident of the Allied Drive neighborhood and mother of two daughters, her motivation for participating in the Institute for Community Engagement was to foster a village that collectively raises its youth. Whitehead hopes to create programs that expands more STEM training for girls and opportunities for youth to shadow local leaders. She believes that we all have the power to “make each other more”.

Shawnna Hunter

For Shawnna Hunter the presence of community in Madison has been integral to her time here. Despite being in Madison for only 9 years Shawnna has engaged in many organizations such as the YWCA, Middleton-Cross Plains School District, and after school program. While her passion work is special education, Shawnna aims “to work for the community” in everything she does. Shawnna hopes that her time working with the institute will help contribute to her goal of being a school principal. She wants to do her part in addressing the equity gap and creating an environment where youth are encouraged to find their talents and passions and contribute them to their communities.

Johnnie Walton

Johnnie Walton really believes in that empower individuals can come together and collectively heal communities. His applied for the program with the goal of helping others feel valued. “No one wants to feel thrown away,” says Walton. After having his own experience with incarceration and homelessness, Johnny understands personally what it’s like to feel disregarded and recognizes people “just need some help and someone there with them” to realize their power. He has had experiences with racism and discrimination in the work place while living in Madison and believes that spaces should be created for people to bring their talents and skills and collectively build. Johnny also aspires to be a writer and hopes to have his work viewed by the likes of Oprah and Ellen.

Alicia Reid

For Alicia Reed, participating in the Institute for Transformative Community Engagement is a new lane for her. The licensed cosmetologist though the institute would be a great opportunity to step out of her comfort zone and help her community in ways she’s always wanted. As someone who’s grown up in Madison she has come to know the community and the city very well, but her participation in the institute has allowed her to learn more about the city she calls home and engage more critically with it’s leaders. Alicia’s goal is to continue to connect with local leaders and tackle the causes she’s most passionate about such as the impact of growth hormones in food and the access marginalized communities have to healthy natural food, as well as the barriers that children face in the foster care system. Alicia is eager to continue to learn and grow through this opportunity.

Valorie Owens

Q. Why did you join the Institute for Transformative Community Engagement?

A. To make a difference in my community.  Not just talk about what needs to happen and to be a part of making something good happen for my community.

Q. Where did you grow up?

A. On a farm in Mississippi.

Q. Who is someone you admire, and why?

A. Ms. (Sabrina) Madison, she has formed one of the biggest centers for self-awareness and leadership.

Q. Name three words that you describe you.

A. Attentive, fun and empathetic.

Q. What are you happiest doing, when you’re not working?

A. Reading, playing my games and talking with my daughter.

Q. What are some causes you care about?

A. Homelessness, children not having the correct supports.

Paris Foster

At the center of Paris’ drive and passion is her daughter Londyn. As a Madison native, Paris has many hopes for the city and it’s resident’s but her primary focus is creating a positive environment for youth and addressing homelessness. She aims to step out of her comfort zone and meet new people doing the work she hopes to do. Ultimately she wants to do her part to make this a safe and positive place for Londyn to grow up and continue being a role model for her.

Felica Turner-Walton

Felica is the kind of person that sees a need and thinks of ways to fill the need. She aims to find silver linings in her storms for herself and those around her. She is the Founder of Healing Our Hearts LLC, an organization that offers free grief counseling to families after the loss of a loved one as well as bereavement training for companies. As a wife and mother of five, Felicia hopes her time in the institute will teach her how to engage herself and others into working for their community and foster a sense of togetherness. Felica’s ultimate goal is to be a motivational speaker.