October 30, 2007

Bryant Running Things with Taylor

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

Representing the 4th Senate District can be a challenging task.  In my efforts to attend meetings, sit on boards and committees, attend neighborhood association meetings, and host community forums and town hall meetings, I depend heavily on my staff.  Whether it’s publishing my weekly legislative updates, preparation for Senate sessions, or organizing my activities as Chair of the Committee on Judiciary and Corrections, it takes a team effort to effectively serve my constituents.

Many of you have come to know and work with the members of ‘Team Taylor’ and with Michelle Bryant in particular.  In those instances where scheduling conflicts prevent me from attending a meeting, event, or committee, Michelle’s there to answer questions, gather information, represent my views, and respond to community needs.

Michelle is no stranger to the community.  Many of you know her through her work with local organizations or from her infectious laughter and painfully truthful commentary on local radio shows.  Others of you know her as a social worker and an outspoken champion of foster care.  In those capacities, Michelle worked tirelessly to improve the lives of at-risk youth and the families that make up our community.  The same knowledge, concern, and overall competence that she brought to those jobs has motivated all her work in my office—from handling constituent relations, to supervising my Milwaukee office, to serving as a policy advisor and Committee Clerk for Judiciary and Corrections.

Given her background, I hope all of you will join me in enthusiastically welcoming her as my new Chief of Staff.  Now based primarily in Madison, Michelle will bring her years of management experience and balanced approach to bear in continuing the legacy of service that has been the foundation of my political career.   

Both Michelle and I understand the significance of her new role as we look for ways to foster achievement among African-Americans in the political arena.  As only the second African-American woman, the fifth African-American person, and the 20th woman to serve as a Wisconsin State Senator, I’m all too familiar with the challenges of breaking into politics.

But we can’t let those challenges keep us from breaking down the barriers that exist.  I strongly believe that there will come a day when we no longer talk of "firsts" or "seconds" when it comes to people of color.  As we continue to blaze a trail for children of color, steadfastly taking our places in politics, it comforts me that, just as women like Vel Phillips, Gwen Moore, and Shirley Chisholm lit a path for me, so Michelle and I will leave a light for others to follow.

So if you don’t see Michelle around town as much as you used to, just know she’s up in Madison representing your interests.  Meantime, the lights in our Milwaukee office will still shine late into the night, thanks to the hard work of Tonya Edwards, the new torchbearer.  When you see Tonya at the next community meeting, make sure to say hi.