Many hearts and minds have been involved in the creation and ongoing development of Step Up: Equity Matters. The core planning team consists of Sara Alvarado, Carolina Bailey, Tania Ibarra, Amy Kesling and Haywood Simmons.
Sara Alvarado is an entrepreneur, speaker, writer and a change agent in Madison WI. Sara and her husband, Carlos, lead a successful real estate business, the Alvarado Real Estate Group and a thriving bilingual/bicultural family. Their boutique real estate brokerage creates a unique environment and a culture of abundance and service while providing a strong team of real estate expertise for families in need of real estate guidance. Sara believes in being real, raw, bold, vulnerable and a lot of fun, while tackling difficult topics and leading from the heart. A native of Madison, WI, Sara is committed to creating a vibrant and strong community for everyone through her leadership and her passion for equity. She is a named founder and past board member of Nuestro Mundo Community School and Badger Rock Middle School, is one of the 40 under 40 for InBusiness Magazine (2013), and has served on the local Realtor Association Board, Sustain Dane’s Board and is an active member of Dane Buy Local.
Carolina Bailey is a language instructor. She has earned her graduate degrees in Colombia (native country), France and the US. She is actively participating in an initiative to help improve the environment for diverse population in academic settings. Carolina believes that it is very important to have an open mind in order to accept and value people with different cultural, economic, and educational backgrounds because these differences enrich the ecology of workplaces as well as of the community. In Colombia, she worked for high crime area schools with populations that were not welcome in their own communities. Here, she learned to appreciate that everyone deserves a second chance in life since we all have something wonderful to offer. This pushed her to seek opportunities in academic settings to help underrepresented students succeed. Now, her interest is in using these skills in order to foster a welcoming environment in the workplace. Carolina is a member of the Latino Professional Association, and she is a mentor for the Students of Color Mentoring Program as well as a member of the Diversity and Community Relations Council at Madison College.
Tania is a dynamic bilingual (English and Spanish) leader with expertise in Accounting and Financial Analysis, Assurance Services, Consulting Services, Business Processes Reviews, Lean Six Sigma Project Management, Organizational Development, and Strategic Planning. Through her career Tania has participated and played different roles in many diversity and inclusion initiatives at the various companies and organizations she has served. Particularly, Tania has played a key role in founding and developing the Latino Professional Association of Greater Madison. Tania believes that each person has talents, gifts, knowledge, skills, abilities to contribute to their organizations and communities. An organization’s and community’s ability to provide opportunities and an environment for those contributions to take place; ensures the organization and community is as successful as it can be. Tania believes that it is in the best interest of the community and organizations as a whole to ensure all people have the fair opportunities to contribute, succeed and be gainfully employed.
Amy Kesling graduated from UW-Madison in 2009 with a B.A. in Sociology
and Geography with a Certificate in Environmental Studies. Amy’s commitment for environmental and social sustainability led her to Sustain Dane in 2010. Amy has influenced and ensured the success of many of Sustain Dane’s programs, most notably the annual Badger Bioneers Conference and the Sustainable Business Network. Through Sustain Dane’s networks, Amy has connected with business professionals, advocates, and entrepreneurs with similar goals of making Madison a sustainable, great place to live for everyone. Amy serves on the board of directors of Community Shares of Wisconsin and the Downtown Madison Inc. Bicycling Subcommittee.
Haywood Simmons, Jr. is a native of Macon, Georgia. As a committed Holistic Wellness Consultant, he has a lifelong passion for fact finding and solutions creation. Sports, fitness and personal improvement training dealing with diverse populations; ranging from men and women, youth and adult, the extremely sedentary and the athletically gifted . Simmons attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he participated in two Bowl Championship Teams including the historic 1993 Rose Bowl. Simmons earned a Bachelor of Science degree from UW-Madison in 1996.
A sense of community has been instilled in Simmons throughout his life. An active member of the Dane County Time Bank-Youth Court, Simmons has worked diligently with at-risk youth and uses “mentoring through fitness” to educate and inspire. Simmons teaches classes through the East Madison Community Center’s Fit-for-Life program to encourage adults to be active and healthy. He is the creator and instructor of Gilda’s Club Fit Camp, which is designed for pre- and post-chemotherapy participants and their families.