Meet our Disscusants

October 25, 2017 - 11:00am to 1:00pm at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation


Paul Elam, Ph.D., President of Public Policy Associates. Dr. Elam has a wealth of knowledge and experience measuring racial and ethnic discrimination and believes that sound public policy analysis should include an examination of whether all people are being treated fairly and equitably. Dr. Elam is currently assisting the U.S. Department of Justice to establish or enhance alternatives to incarceration that focus on reducing criminal behavior and enhancing public safety through Swift and Certain Sanctions (SAC) initiatives. Dr. Elam recently began assisting the Annie E. Casey Foundation with the Expanding the Bench Initiative.  This initiative aims to improve evaluation science and social innovation by increasing diversity in the field of research and evaluation.  Dr. Elam’s work will focus on evaluators from historically underrepresented groups with evaluation expertise in the areas of child welfare and juvenile justice.


Sharlen Moore has committed her life to building and sustaining grassroots leadership for change. Sharlen is a native of Montego Bay Jamaica, who migrated to the United States with her family at the age of 6. She has a passion for community justice, which led to her co-founding Urban Underground in 2000, a nationally recognized grassroots youth development organization whose members have been at the forefront of youth-led social change in Milwaukee and the region. Its members have consistently demonstrated both courage and determination as they address some of the most critical issues facing our community including education, public safety, health, and the criminal justice system. Sharlen’s commitment to youth was shaped by her early experiences with racial and economic injustice in Milwaukee. She is also the founding member of Youth Justice Milwaukee which is a broad-based youth decarceration campaign advocating for the creation of community-based, family-centered, restorative programs as an alternative to locking up youth in Wisconsin prisons. The product of a resilient family of faith, Sharlen’s efforts have touched the lives of countless youth and have inspired a new generation of young leaders that will carry forth the struggle for justice and equality. Sharlen currently serves as Director of Urban Underground and founding member of Youth Justice Milwaukee, located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


Caronina Grimble has been a Program Officer at Woods Fund Chicago since 2013. As Program Officer, she shares responsibility for reviewing grant proposals, making informed funding recommendations to Woods Fund’s Board of Directors, monitoring relationships with organizations that Woods Fund supports, and identifying service gaps and areas appropriate for Woods Fund’s support. Caronina works to leverage the impact of Woods Fund’s grantmaking into increased interest and engagement from other foundations. In addition to supporting Woods Fund’s grantmaking, Caronina also leads the foundation’s racial equity work. Before joining Woods Fund Chicago, Caronina served as Acting Associate Director of the Division of Family and Community Services at the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS). She managed a group of human services programs that provided homeless services, emergency food services, immigrant and refugee services, domestic violence services, and managed a federal block grant that funded an array of community services programs.  Prior to that, she served as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of the Assistant Secretary at IDHS, where she was responsible for the planning and execution of executive level tasks, special statewide projects, multi-agency projects, and other initiatives. 


Danell Cross is a resident of the Metcalfe Park neighborhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Danell Cross is the Executive Director of Metcalfe Community Bridges Neighborhood Association, Danell Cross coordinated a resident engagement and capacity building initiative to improve people’s lives and her community. She is one of the founding members of the Metcalfe Park Community Action Team, a resident group that worked to engage their community and connect them to resources.  Her mission is to support resident leaders and build partnerships where residents and partners work together as equal partners to promote a safe, healthy, and vibrant community. Danell studied business management at Milwaukee Area Technical College.  Danell graduated from the Neighborhood Leadership Institute, a community leadership and skill building initiative.  

Meet our Moderators


Michelle Robinson is the Research, Data and Policy Associate for the Race to Equity Project, an initiative to dramatically reduce racial disparities in Dane County, Wisconsin (Madison) and throughout the rest of the state, at Kids Forward. As a quantitative sociologist she is interested in racial inequality and social stratification, and their relation to the development of societal institutions, social and public policy, and the State. Michelle has over a decade of experience in research, data, evaluation and policy, and expertise of topics related to race and racisms, inequality, stratification, diversity and inclusion and racial equity at the city, state, and federal levels—within and outside of academia. She has published in peer-refereed journals such as Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis (EEPA) and the American Journal of Education (AJE) and worked on program development, research and evaluation at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board,  the National Center for Education Statistics and the American Institutes for Research, and as a member of the Children, Families and Schools project team at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. She currently holds a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Texas at Austin and a M.S. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and is defending her dissertation in a few weeks.



Melissa Pettis is a first generation student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, graduating in December 2018. She is studying Community Engagement and Education with a minor in Africology. Over the summer Melissa participated in UWM’s study abroad program where she traveled to Belize; shadowing a local school making note of their pedagogy methods, beliefs and values. Upon graduation Melissa plans on attending graduate school and working in the non-profit sector help her native community Milwaukee.


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