Winter 2022
Public Policy Institute Insights
Friends –

We thank you for your support as we address the myriad challenges in our community, from lack of healthy, secure, and affordable rental housing to easy access to substances that can cause harm. These are tough issues that require long-term, holistic, and creative dedication. Success isn’t always apparent on the surface, but it’s there, for example, when a returned citizen can create a rewarding career pathway, or when young people develop their talents instead of turning to drugs or alcohol, or when policy makers listen to the people who are impacted by their decisions so that thorny problems can be resolved wisely. Once again, all of us at the Public Policy Institute are grateful for your steadfast support, partnership, and engagement.

In partnership,

Kari Southern
Deputy Director
Community Advocates Public Policy Institute
New SAMHSA Grant Allows PPI to Expand Mental Health and Wellness Workshops
Community Advocates Public Policy Institute is expanding our no-cost mental health and wellness workshops thanks to a five-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The workshops are intended to reach Milwaukee County residents who are typically under-served by the current behavioral health system—and those who work with—and aim to improve emotional literacy and access to culturally appropriate services.
Community Advocates’ Mental Health Awareness Training project (CA-MHAT) prioritizes Milwaukee County’s low-income African Americans, Spanish speakers, Hmong residents, LGBTQ+ individuals, Native Americans, and first responders—as well as those who work with and love them. These Milwaukeeans often find barriers to care, whether it’s because they face stigma, don’t feel that traditional providers understand them, struggle with English, or face a long wait before obtaining services or treatment.
One component of the CA-MHAT project is to provide information about and access to services for those who want to take the next step in addressing their mental health or substance use issues. We’ve created an online Mental Health and Wellness Resource Page, which includes a downloadable Resource Guide.
"We are excited about this opportunity to provide additional no-cost resources for Milwaukee County residents who want to better understand mental health issues and improve their overall wellness," said Kari Southern, PPI’s Deputy Director. "These workshops are designed for community members who don’t have a professional background in behavioral health but want to be able to better understand themselves, their loved ones, and those they work with."
Upcoming trainings include Mental Health First Aid for Adults and Youth, and Question, Persuade, Refer Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training, and Mindful Gratitude. Check out our online calendar for details. Workshops are open to those who live or work in Milwaukee County. Registration is required.
Sadie Wilson Joins PPI
We're happy to announce that Sadie Wilson has joined the Public Policy Institute as the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Coordinator after completing an internship with us. Sadie has obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Health from the University of Iowa, and is currently completing her Master of Public Health Degree with a focus on Public Health Policy and Administration at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Prior to joining PPI, Sadie served as the Diversity Assistant for the West London NHS Trust in the United Kingdom, where she assisted in developing and implementing workplace-based policies to promote equity and diversity for patients and employees. While living in Iowa, Sadie spent time working at a high-risk OB-GYN clinic, and served as a liaison to connect at-risk mothers with resources to improve access to medical care, and to reduce instances of food insecurity. She is excited to launch her career with Community Advocates and promote strong families within the community.
Milwaukee Mayoral Candidates Attended Virtual Forum
On January 31, six of the seven primary candidates for Milwaukee mayor attended a virtual forum co-organized by Community Advocates Public Policy Institute. The candidates answered a range of questions touching on affordable housing, policing and public safety, community investment, lead remediation, voting rights, and more. Moderated by Emilio De Torre of Milwaukee Turners, our community partners in the forum included Disability Rights Wisconsin, MICAH, Milwaukee Mental Health Task Force, Rid Racism, Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition, and Milwaukee Turners. We were grateful for coverage by CBS 58, Fox 6, WISN, and Wisconsin Health News.

The top primary vote-getters, Bob Donovan and Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson, will appear on the April 5 general election ballot. Check your registration and voting information at My Vote Wisconsin or the Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition
Acting Mayor Johnson Weighs in on Health Equity
Community Advocates Public Policy Institute was among the community organizations that sponsored a March 8 discussion with Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson on what it would take to make Milwaukee a healthier city. The half-hour conversation focused entirely on health and health equity, with a special emphasis on the impact of tobacco on communities of color, healthy and affordable housing, health care, and prevention.
Light & Unite Red Week
March 26-April 1
Mark your calendars for Light & Unite Red week, which will be held March 26 to April 1 and will coincide with National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week. LUR Week gives communities and organizations a chance to connect and educate the community on prevention methods, increase substance abuse awareness, and showcase support in substance abuse recovery.

Over the years, organizations and communities all over Milwaukee County hosted week-long LUR events and activities, wore red for substance abuse awareness and even lit up their establishments red. This year, we are looking forward to seeing our partners and other Milwaukee organizations continue to participate in spreading awareness during LUR week.
If your organization is interested in hosting events and activities, please send an email to Alexandria Kohn at Follow the Light & Unite Red Facebook page to keep up with upcoming news, events and activities.
Counter Tools Volunteer Opportunity
March 18 - May 15
We’re trying to better understand the local retail environment and how young people are influenced by the marketing and access in stores, focusing on tobacco, e-cigarettes, vaping products, and alcohol. PPI and Counter Tools have designed an assessment survey to provide information on pricing, item placement, and ads. We’re looking for volunteers to help us collect this information by May 15. Prizes will be awarded to volunteers who reach certain benchmarks. Interested? Contact Martha Ghebregziabiher by March 18 at
Keep Your Home Safe
Medication can be life-saving, but it can also be dangerous if it gets into the wrong hands. To keep your home safe, it’s critical that medications are stored securely or disposed of safely. We’re providing free medication lock boxes and drug disposal kits to community organizations and individuals who want to prevent substance misuse and overdose. Please contact Africa Lucas and Martha Ghebregziabiher for more information.
PPI In the News
Tsunami of Support for Tenants and Landlords
Community Advocates continues to administer the rental assistance program in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties for those who have lost income due to the pandemic or other hardship. Begin the application process here. Property owners are encouraged to seek out alternative forms of assistance before turning to eviction to settle disputes with tenants. The Milwaukee Rental Housing Resource Center is always ready to help.
Community Advocates
2022 Board of Directors
President: Jodi Wire | We Energies
Vice President: Bryan House | Foley & Lardner, LLP
Treasurer: Sandra Samse | Johnson Keland Management
Secretary: Sharon Jordan | Direct Supply

Board Members
Sheree Dallas Branch | The Salvation Army
Anne DeLeo | Community Volunteer
Natasha Dotson | Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative
Valerie Gabriel | Community Volunteer
Erin Henry | Northwestern Mutual
Gary Ingram | Igary Events
Pamela Klein | Community Volunteer
Jim Liedtke | Community Volunteer
Ashley Pavlic | Medical College of Wisconsin
Alexandra Urrutia-Comas | Advocate Aurora Health
Kate Venne | Brady Corporation
Lisa Kaiser | Community Advocates Public Policy Institute | 414-270-2999  | |