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BCDI-WI Inaugural Gala
May 4, 2024, at 5pm

Hilton Milwaukee City Center • 509 W Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, WI

Event Schedule:


5-6 pm

Registration and Welcome Reception


6-9 pm

Opening Ceremony,
Keynote Address 
Community Impact Showcase

Evening Speaker

Leah Austin, Ed.D

National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI)

President & CEO

Kirsten Johnson

Wisconsin Department of Health


Kirsten Johnson has over 20 years of experience as a public health leader in complex local, state, national, and international organizations. She joins the administration after previously serving as the health commissioner for the city of Milwaukee following her appointment in January 2021. Prior to serving the city of Milwaukee, Kirsten led the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department for more than a decade as the director and health officer, overseeing the merger of the two counties’ health departments and later leading a multi-county pandemic response as well as various other public health and health equity initiatives. Kirsten has her master’s degree in public health from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and holds certifications as a public health professional and certified education specialist. 

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Akilah Adams


Black National Anthem

Akilah Adams wears many hats, each representing her unwavering commitment to making a positive impact in various spheres. Akilah’s journey began in the corporate world many years ago, where she thrived in customer-facing roles, relishing the diversity of each day. Her ability to help others achieve their goals led her to Content Development and Corporate Event Planning at Direct Supply.  Akilah’s rule-breaking approach ensures transparency, innovation, and hard work in every project.  As the Founding President of the Black Inclusion Group (B.I.G.) Akilah spearheaded efforts to create a more inclusive culture. She oversaw operations and programming while championing for diversity and equity. Beyond her professional roles, Akilah is deeply connected to her community with her advocacy extending to the foster care system. She advocates for children of color, ensuring their unique needs are met regardless of the racial make up of their caregivers. Her expertise has led to innovative solutions while empowering foster and adoptive families. Akilah’s commitment to these children is deeply personal, as she herself is a proud single mother of one biological daughter Abrielle, and three adopted children, Josiah, Athena and Ekarri Adams. As the Service Coordinator of Mason Temple Church of God in Christ in Milwaukee WI, she brings people together to ensure the success of the organization while fostering connections and support. Her role as the Praise and Worship Leader reflects her spiritual dedication and leadership. Akilah Adams embodies resilience, compassion, and a relentless pursuit of positive change. Her voice and commitment continue to pave new roads for those around her, leaving an indelible mark on the world.




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