3 community leaders receive City-County Humanitarian awards during virtual MLK Day observance

MADISON, Wis. — Three area residents were awarded Madison and Dane County’s joint City-County Humanitarian Awards honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday during a virtual observance of the holiday honoring the civil rights leader.

The recipients are well-known in the community for their work with various groups, including youth.

They include Will Green, the founder of mentoring program Mentoring Positives, Inc., Vanessa McDowell, the first Black female CEO of the Madison YWCA, and Michael Johnson, the CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County.

During an interview on Live at Four Monday afternoon, Johnson said he was speechless and thankful to receive the award.

“I try to celebrate the values of Dr. King not just today but year-round, trying to foster good deeds in our community every single day, so it means the world to me,” he said.

McDowell received the award based on her work supporting women and social justice, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said while introducing her at Monday’s event. McDowell described receiving the award as humbling.

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway described Green as a “consummate positive role model” in the city’s Darbo neighborhood on the east side, helping bring people together for events like the Darbo Peace Walk and serving as a mentor to countless boys and young men in the community.