“I love Odyssey and am honored to be invited to join the board to help Odyssey succeed.”
Last month, Brenda González became the newest member of the all-volunteer Board of Directors for the Friends of the UW Project Inc., a nonprofit formed in 2009 to provide supplementary wraparound support to Odyssey families. Currently serving as UW–Madison’s director of community relations, Brenda acts as the chief liaison between UW–Madison and community, city and county organizations. She also oversees the South Madison Partnership Office, home to Odyssey classes and offices. “Being here in South Madison for me is coming full circle, coming back to my efforts as an immigrant who once faced barriers to creating greater access to higher education and a healthier community for all.” Watch Brenda’s Community Chat video.
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Born in Texas to Mexican parents, Brenda spent part of her childhood in Mexico City before her family decided to move to the United States. “I saw the challenges of immigrant communities trying to overcome language barriers and adjust to a new culture,” Brenda notes. “We need to do better to create a community where all feel welcome and all can succeed.”
Prior to taking her current position as the director of community relations for UW–Madison, Brenda served as the diversity manager at Agrace Hospice and as the health equity manager for both Group Health Cooperative (GHC) and the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.
Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, associate dean for diversity and equity transformation for the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and UW Health vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion, notes in a letter of support for Brenda’s nomination for a 2021 Outstanding UW Woman of Color award, “Ms. González is an amazing community leader who has dedicated herself to improving the lives of those most marginalized in our community. She is one of the most outstanding and recognized Latina leaders in our community.”
With her election to the Friends of the UW Odyssey Project Board of Directors, Brenda joins a nonprofit committed to helping families break a cycle of generational poverty. Other board members include Alison TenBruggencate, Tripp Widder III, Don Miner, Jean Feraca and Odyssey alumna René Robinson ’08.
Since 2009, Friends of the UW Odyssey Project has overseen the family fund provide emergency aid to Odyssey families falling outside traditional university guidelines. Expenses have ranged from fixing a student’s broken glasses to obtaining housing for homeless students turned away from overcrowded shelters. Friends of Odyssey has also helped raise funding for the Odyssey Project through grants, events and fundraising campaigns.