Award winners Talib Akbar, Ginger Baier, and Ruth Schmidt

Celebrate these wonderful community Change Makers on September 19th

On September 19th, Community Shares of Wisconsin (CSW) will celebrate the work of three incredible leaders working to build a better community for all. Some of the 70 nonprofit member agencies of Community Shares of Wisconsin nominated these awardees.

Talib Akbar, Nominated by MOSES-WISDOM of Madison – Winner of the Linda Sundberg Civil Rights Defender Award

Ginger Baier, Nominated by OutReach – Winner of the Liesl Blockstein Community Leadership Award

Ruth Schmidt, Nominated by Wisconsin Early Childhood Association – Winner of the Sally Sunde Family Advocate Awar

“The Change-Maker Awards honor some of the most impactful leaders in our community, and this year’s winners exemplify that,” said CSW Executive Director Cheri Dubiel. “They are not only making a difference in people’s lives; they are reshaping entire institutions to foster lasting change.”




Talib Akbar nominated by MOSES -WISDOM of Madison


Tragedies turned into Social Change

When some of us would have given up, Talib took what he learned in a paralegal course in prison and began working to help other inmates make requests for transfers and call attention to the unethical nature of solitary confinement.

Talib spent significant time in solitary confinement, anywhere from 60 days to 10 months at a time. In his quest to educate the public about solitary confinement and the damage it does to human beings, Talib, along with students from Edgewood College and Reverend Jerry Hancock, decided to build a replica of a solitary confinement cell. Talib’s cell replica traveled throughout Madison and the state of Wisconsin. Many people have been shocked, saddened, and appalled when they spend time in the cell.

“Since returning home, Talib Akbar has worked tirelessly to end the torture and inhumane treatment of Solitary Confinement in our jail and prison system.” Said Rachel Kincade, his nominator from MOSES-WISDOM of Madison.


Ginger Baier nominated by OutReach LGBT Community Center


Change Starts with Being Who You Are

For Ginger Baier, change begins with being yourself. “I am a proud, out, transgender woman– that is part of my style; I’m not afraid to share my story and my style is that I am open.”

In her role as the Transgender Health Advocate at OutReach LGBT Community Center, Ginger has established a fund to help transgender people experiencing homelessness with rent eviction prevention. Ginger has also been a leader of the Madison Area Transgender Association (MATA) for a decade.

“As a transgender person, our liberties are under attack daily; Ginger stands up and defends our civil rights always. She is greatly deserving of this award,” says nominator Steve Starkey, Executive Director, OutReach LGBT Community Center.



Ruth Schmidt nominated by Wisconsin Early Childhood Association


From Vision to Reality

It’s not hard for Ruth Schmidt to describe her vision for Madison: “[A city] where every child born in Dane county would have access to daycare, from a trained and educated childcare provider who is passionate about working with young children. We need a system of high quality and affordable childcare, for all parents, regardless of the zip code you live in or the color of your skin. We should be able to pay for childcare and not break the bank. Childcare providers should be able to make a good living.”

For over 15 years, Ruth has been committed to changing the salary disparities of Childcare providers in Madison as the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association.

“Please join us in honoring and celebrating Ruth’s tireless leadership, commitment, and advocacy on behalf of the early care and education professionals that devote their lives to caring for and educating our state’s youngest children and future workforce,” Robin Fox Ph.D, board President of the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association and her nominator.


Meet these community leaders and others making a difference by attending CSW’s 2019 Community Change-Maker Awards Event on Thursday, September 19, 5:00-7:00 p.m. at Union South. CSW will also honor 25 Backyard Hero Award Winners for their volunteer work at Community Shares’ member nonprofits. The event is presented by NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin with proceeds supporting the work of Community Shares of Wisconsin and its members. For more information and tickets visit: or call 608-256-1066.

Community Shares of Wisconsin will also honor 25 exceptional Backyard Hero Award Winners for their volunteer work at Community Shares’ member nonprofits. Learn more about them here: