​Tamara Grigsby

Change Agent

The UW inspired Tamara Grigsby MS2000 to become an agent for social change. “I became angry as I learned the full extent of injustice in our world,” she said. But thanks to the university, she was able to channel that anger and passion into a successful career as a social worker and then an elected state representative, serving the Wisconsin Assembly’s 18th District from 2004 to 2012.

Grigsby, who passed away in March 2016, was a 2012 winner of the Wisconsin Alumni Association’s Forward under 40 award, which honors young alumni for significant achievement.

After earning her master’s in social work, Grigsby became a family social worker in Milwaukee and a program manager for the nonprofit Wisconsin Council on Children and Families. She advocated to reduce racial disparities in children’s well being and to improve systems that serve families.

After being elected, she amplified the voice of Wisconsin’s minority populations, especially their concerns about the need to improve education, the criminal justice system, and many other issues — including health care — that affect children.

Grigsby chaired the Wisconsin Assembly’s Committee on Children and Families, and she won the 2006 award for Community Service Dedication from Voices Behind Bars, a Madison-based organization, for her advocacy on restorative justice and ex-offender reintegration issues.

Grigsby was recognized as 2010 Legislator of the Year by the Black Child Development Association, and was also honored by the Urban Economic Development Association of Wisconsin. She was a member of the legislature’s powerful Joint Committee on Finance and served on numerous boards, including the Milwaukee Child Welfare Partnership Council. She also supported her alma mater by supervising graduate-student interns from the School of Social Work and by speaking to various classes on campus.