Walter Lanier

Director of Multicultural Affairs and Community Engagement at Milwaukee Area Technical College

Senior Pastor of Progressive Baptist Church

Milwaukee, WI

I have a particular passion for helping people clear out obstacles and baggage to their success. I like to help people succeed and achieve. I believe that everybody has a place of brilliance and a place of genius, and we need to create spaces for that genius and brilliance and talent to flourish.

We launched the Men of Color Initiative at Milwaukee Area Technical College about two years ago seeking to provide holistic resources and support for men to achieve academically, to contribute to themselves, first of all, the college community, and then our community. We've got about eight to ten different strategies that we’ve developed, including working with them in cohorts, working in specific academic programs. We've done a lot as of late around mental health and mental wellness, role modeling, mentoring, and building relationships with the community and several others. It's had an impact inside the college and in the community.

Because I wear many hats, I get to look for many angles. Leading the community at Progressive, I've watched over time as our community has grown in its health. I've watched our intentionality, our increased love, our increased capacity to walk alongside somebody even if we don't understand their journey, arise and spring forth from this mental health and mental illness ministry. I've watched as members have not only come to talk to me, but to talk with others in the church community about mental health issues. We've got a quarterly mental health moment that we talk about from the pulpit, and I mention it regularly.

What it has done is normalized and made it okay to talk about mental health and mental illness in that particular faith community. I didn't have vision like that, but God took it and grew it and amplified it. It's a cornerstone of the work that we do.

What I am embracing now is a need to turn up, to increase my leadership, and to steward more effectively my centers of influence. Also to speak up with more boldness; to grab the leadership reins more frequently and pass information on more directly and really be conscious of opportunities to share and invest in somebody and get people connected.

These are things that I've always done, but I want to be much more intentional in this season in my life about stewarding or shepherding my leadership influence here in the Milwaukee community and beyond.

Learn more about the Men of Color Initiative at Milwaukee Area Technical College at https://matcmenofcolor.wordpress.com/about/