Where We Live: Problem or Solution – The Role of Systems and Professionals in Addressing Racism

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Where We Live: Problem or Solution - The Role of Systems and Professionals in Addressing Racism

Change starts with where you are, within your own community.

Racism does not function in a vacuum, it is a condition in society in which a dominant racial group systematically benefits from the oppression of others, whether that group wants such benefits or not. Additionally, systems lead by humans with privilege often carry out the oppression in their positions of authority whether they are aware of it or not.  Professionals with privilege and power will share their experience of coming to understand their role in perpetuating racism, and how they have decided to be a part of the solution to ending practices that oppress non-white members of society.

The YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. In support of this mission and these goals, the YWCA offers programs and services to meet critical needs, promote self-sufficiency, eliminate racism and violence, and achieve equal opportunities for all people. We endeavor to create a safe space for the community to congregate and engage in conversations and connections that compel change for the entire community one member at a time.

For the past 21 years, The Privilege Institute (TPI) / White Privilege Conference (WPC) has examined challenging concepts of privilege and oppression and offers solutions and team building strategies to work towards a more equitable world.The WPC provides an opportunity for participants to discuss how white privilege, white supremacy, and oppression affects daily life while giving strategies for addressing issues of privilege and oppression and advancing social and economic justice strategy in addressing issues of inequality. For more information on TPI, visit their web site at https://www.theprivilegeinstitute.com/.

To all of our Black community members, we stand with you and with all who stand against anti-Black sentiments, racism, racial profiling, police brutality, and injustice.


Celestine Jeffreys | Chief of Staff | Office of the Mayor: Green Bay, WI

Since moving to Green Bay in 2000, Celestine has become a part of the fabric of the Green Bay Community. In April of 2006, Celestine became Green Bay’s first African-American Alder.  She served on many committees and in 2008, was re-elected by a 2-to-1 margin.   She continued her political career on the Green Bay Area Public School board and was elected to two terms. Celestine has served as Chief of Staff for Mayor Jim Schmitt, and is currently serving for Mayor Eric Genrich.  She successfully partnered with Green Bay Area Public Schools to create program for free rides for students. She re-wrote the special events ordinance, implemented employee resource groups, and has won grant funds to help improve Green Bay’s environmental profile.  Celestine plays a central role in improving relationships with the Oneida Nation, which will culminate in an improved Intergovernmental Agreement. 

Kirsten Kocyan, Captain | Associate Kroc Center Officer | The Salvation Army of Greater Green Bay

Captain Kirsten Kocyan grew up attending The Salvation Army at locations across the Midwest, and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Art from Grinnell College. In 2009 she started working for The Salvation Army at the Evangeline Booth Lodge, a transitional shelter in Chicago, IL for families and single women, as the youth minister/chaplain. She attended The Salvation Army’s College for Officer Training (CFOT) and was commissioned as a part of the Friends of Christ session in 2012 and appointed to Manhattan, KS as Corps Officer until 2015.  She served on CFOT staff for two years as Assistant Director of Campus Services, had a brief appointment as Corps Officer at the Mt Clemens, MI corps and then was at The Salvation Army’s Central Territorial Headquarters in Hoffman Estates, IL as Property Specialist until taking the appointment of Associate Kroc Center Officer at the Green Bay Kroc Center in 2019.

Jenni Oliver | Director of Operations and Social Equity Advancement | The Privilege Institute

Jenni Oliver (She/her/hers) has over seventeen years of results driven leadership and project management skills. Recognized by Kenexa as a “culture leader,” Jenni has managed highly engaged, diverse teams within a Fortune 50 Company and also in Higher Education. Jenni has a passion and success for advancing diversity and inclusion strategies, equitable policy development, and creating safe spaces for crucial conversations. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources (Concordia University Wisconsin) and an Associates degree in Leadership Development (NWTC). Jenni also studied “Leadership & Service Excellence” at the Disney Institute, DisneyWorld and Irish Culture, Communications & Humanities at Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford, Ireland.

As a Green Bay native, Jenni serves on several boards in the community, including the Brown County MLK Committee, Green Bay Society of Human Resources (SHRM) Diversity & Inclusion team. In 2017, Jenni partnered to become a founding co-chair of GLSEN-Green Bay, working to create safe and inclusive K-12 schools, for all students. After completing a term of service with AmeriCorps, Jenni stepped in as Interim Assistant Director of the Cassandra Voss Center at St. Norbert College. During this time she worked diligently to bring the first ever White Privilege Symposium (WPSSNC) to Wisconsin, before joining TPI full time.

Dr. Brenda Warren, PhD | Green Bay School Board

Brenda has been on the Green Bay School Board since 2004, serving as president from 2012- April, 2020. She was a pediatrician in Green Bay for seven years before “retiring” to become a stay-at-home mom in 1996. Over the course of the last 24 years, Brenda has been a community volunteer in various capacities: active volunteer in Green Bay schools and on leadership teams for United Way and Achieve Brown County, current member of the Basic Needs Giving Partnership Grants Team, currently serving on the Community Advisory Board for the Medical College of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the Board of Directors for the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation. Part of her work for the Medical College has included working with a team to help improve access and opportunity for students of color who want to become physicians.

Brenda recently earned a Ph.D. in education leadership. Her dissertation examined barriers preventing scientifically-based reading research from positively impacting classroom practice. Her focus over the last five years has been working to improve how reading is taught in Wisconsin and nationally so that all children learn to read. With the recent events in our country, her work feels even more urgent as we all strive together to eliminate racism.