Urban League CEO: ‘Time to pass the baton’

Kaleem Caire resigns from organization after serving 4 years
Urban League CEO: ‘Time to pass the baton’
Kaleem Caire in February 2014

The head of a local civil rights organization said Monday that he would leave the position at the end of March.

Kaleem Caire said he would step down as president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison after March 31.

“I have decided that now is the right time to move on,” Caire said in a statement. “We have challenged the status quo that has held so many back. But now is the time to pass the baton to a new pace setter for the Urban League.”

Caire said he was resigning to focus on new opportunities, his family and to finish his master’s degree.

Caire joined the ULGM four years ago and has helped the organization grow to serve 1,731 adults last year, according to the group. ULGM served about 183 adults in 2009, the year prior to Caire’s hire.

ULGM said Caire would stay with the organization through March to help during the search for the next Urban League president and serve with the board of directors during the transition, according to the release.

ULGM Chairman Wade Harrison said he has been aware of Caire’s decision since January.

“It’s not totally shocking from the board perspective, while undoubtedly it is for the community,” Harrison said. “It’s always a tough loss, but we’ll do our best to find someone who can come in and help carry the torch.”

Other community leaders spoke out about Caire’s announcement Monday.

“With Kaleem’s resignation today, it is important for the Urban League of Greater Madison to continue to be a vibrant, productive organization, and I am glad that Kaleem came back to Madison to lead one of the most important nonprofit organizations in our community. Through Kaleem’s leadership our community was able to have an elevated conversation around education and the disparities that exist among our students of color, and I am thankful he decided education would be a priority for the Urban League,” said Michael Johnson, with the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County. “I am thankful that he led this effort, and our community will be better off because of his leadership and tenacity. I wish Kaleem and his family well in their future endeavors, and I am thankful for his service and his commitment to helping those who needed his leadership the most.

“As CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison, Kaleem Caire was one of the key individuals who elevated the important community conversation about racial inequities in education and in the workplace,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said in a statement. “It was a pleasure to partner with Kaleem to create and implement solutions to help ensure everyone has an opportunity for success — from worker training and employment to initiatives that help stabilize families and lead to lifelong success in school for children. I offer Kaleem my deepest thanks for all that he has done to help strengthen families in our country. I wish him the very best in his future plans.”

News 3 confirmed that Caire’s announcement comes on the heels of Keetra Burnette’s departure. Burnette, the former ULGM chief operating officer, is taking a job as the senior director of community impact at the United Way.

A spokeswoman said Burnette starts March 11, and that her and Caire’s moves are a “coincidence.”