Jefferson Award Winner, June 2017: Dawn Crim

MADISON (WKOW) — Dawn Crim wears a lot of hats, wife, mother, volunteer. 

She’s a community leader who’s going above and beyond to give the African American community a voice in the Madison area.

Helping others is something that’s come easy for her, ever since she was young.

"It was just kind of who you are and what you do," she says. "So, I’ve always kinda carried that forward."

Dawn moved to Madison 21 years ago.

"I was an assistant women’s basketball coach under Jane Albright."

She started serving her community right away.

"I ran our community volunteering program as part of the women’s basketball team."

But, there was something missing in her new home.

"The challenges that we have are communities of color still don’t see themselves. Their visibility is very low," says Dawn. "And the ability for us to own our own businesses, to lead, to have community connections, to expand the culture, that’s what’s been challenging."

So, she became a founding member of the Madison Network of Black Professionals to change that, 15 years ago.

"To help people learn more about the community, how they can participate and how they can move up in positions, how we have a more visible professional area, professionals of color, professional African Americans."

Once a month, the 80 members get together over lunch and get involved.

"We try to go to different places around the community so we’re building capacity, learning more about what’s here, what resources are here for our kids, how we get promoted."

Corinda Rainey-Moore is a member of MNBP. She says Dawn keeps the group moving forward.

"She’s a visionary, so she’s always looking for ways that we can expand who we are and that we can grow our membership."

Dawn helps to shape our city’s leaders and the leaders of tomorrow.

Even before her kids were in school, she started volunteering for the Madison Metropolitan School District and UW-Madison and has since served on dozens of committees.

"I’ve been on the superintendent committee, both Jen Cheathem and Dan Nerad when he was there. I led the African American Parent Association at Leopold for eight years."

Dawn also mentors students.

"Those kids are going to be leaders and so they need to see leaders who look like them and they need to be engaged and connected.

She’s also a member of the NAACP and the Rotary Club of Madison.

"We support over 25 non-profits every year, in terms of the grant program."

Oscar Mireles is also a member of the Madison Network of Black Professionals. He says, "She really wants to make this a better place for everybody. She wants what’s good for everybody and wants children to succeed in school. She wants it to be a safe place."

Dawn says, "Through service, through education, there are so many possibilities. I’m hoping that I can inspire others and even my children to live those possibilities. But, education is key." 

Dawn volunteers hundreds of hours every year. 

Her service was also recognized this year by the United Way of Dane County, when she was given the Mike McKinney Award.

She’s had such an impact on education, she was recently promoted to a leadership position with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.



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