Celebrating wide-ranging accomplishments of Marquette alumni
Written by Donya Robinson
DJ Poizon Ivy, first female DJ for the Dallas Mavericks and the NBA all-star game
Ivy Awino, known by her stage name Poizon Ivy, is a 2013 graduate of Diederich College of Comm. Born in Nairobi, Kenya and raised in Dallas, Texas, Ivy mastered both the piano and cello before discovering her love for turntables. Her rise to fame started in the WMUR radio studio in 2010 when she hosted her first show, Poizon Ivy After Dark. A few years later, she opened for big-name artists like Nas, Wiz Khalifa, Lupe Fiasco and J. Cole at Milwaukee’s Summerfest. In 2016 she made history by becoming the first female DJ for the Dallas Mavericks. Two years later, she did it again by becoming the first female DJ for the NBA All-Star Game. Recently she was named to the Forbes30 under 30 list. Learn more about her Marquette story here.
Dr. Arthur J. Bowman, Jr.
Orthopedic surgeon who grew up during the Jim Crow era
Earning a degree from Marquette in 1963 with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry, Bowman eventually became an orthopedic surgeon. He currently specializes in joint replacement and trauma care. Generations back, Bowman’s family worked as sharecroppers in the Jim Crow South in an area near Selma, Alabama. When he came to Marquette, Bowman experienced culture shock. “It took some getting used to because I had never really socialized with white people. And here I was, thrown in this environment where there were only 13 black students on Marquette’s campus.” As an alumnus, Bowman has served on the National Alumni Board, recruiting students from the Northeast.
Dr. Sybril Brown
Emmy Award-winning multimedia journalist, educator, author, and speaker
Sybril is an Emmy Award-winning multimedia journalist, educator, author, international speaker and presenter. “Dr. Syb” to her students began her career working behind the scenes at major television network affiliates in Milwaukee and Chicago, then moved to a station in Nashville as a reporter. Along the way, she earned a master’s degree in education and a doctorate in higher education administration. At Marquette, she was a resident adviser, president of the Black Student Association, member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, and worked at the student newspaper and radio station. Sybril says her favorite Marquette memory is winning the National Baptist Convention choir competition her senior year: “We were definitely David in a Goliath situation.”
One of the first African Americans to join the U.S. Marine Corps
William Coffer became one of the first African Americans to join the U.S. Marine Corps and served two years in Korea, “fighting for the right to fight.” He was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal for his service as a Montford Point Marine. While African Americans had been allowed to enlist in the Corps since 1942, Coffer joined at a time when the Marines were heavily divided racially. Following his service, Coffer received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Marquette University and an associate degree in accounting from Milwaukee Area Technical College. In 1971, he became a manager at the Milwaukee Housing Authority. Today, Coffer has remained active, teaching Sunday school and Bible study and serving as the treasurer at the Greater Galilee Missionary Baptist Church.
Vice president of business strategy and activation for the Milwaukee Bucks
Kareeda has lived and breathed basketball her entire life — from being the daughter of a professional player to her career on Marquette’s women’s basketball team to her position today as vice president of business strategy and activation for the Milwaukee Bucks. With the Bucks, she served as senior director of partnership activation from 1998–2015, when she was promoted to her current role. She manages the implementation of all contracted entitlements for more than 60 corporate partners of the Bucks. Kareeda is also the voice for many commercials and features on the Bucks’ radio broadcast.
Lead Marquette to a 28–1 record before his 10-year NBA career
Jim Chones, a consensus All-American in 1972, amassed 952 points and 583 rebounds during his 50-game Marquette playing career. In 1971, he helped lead Marquette to a 28–1 record and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The following season, Chones led Marquette to a perfect 21–0 start by averaging a team-high 20.5 points and 11.9 rebounds before being selected in the first round of the 1972 ABA Draft by the New York Knicks. Chones went on to enjoy a 10-year professional playing career and in 1980 won an NBA Championship as a member of the Los Angles Lakers.
Engineer turned lawyer turned Hollywood actor
Brian Distance’s acting career didn’t begin like most actors. He started as an engineer. Then he became a lawyer. Today, you can see him on shows like House of Cards and NCIS: New Orleans. But he didn’t start out on this path. Brian graduated from Marquette in 1987 with his degree in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. 18 years ago, Brian moved to New York City. He reconnected with his high school sweetheart (now wife), also a lawyer. Together with her father, they started a law firm. He still continues to practice finance law for major international investment banks in New York. On the day of Sept. 11, 2001, Brian was working downtown in New York. From the shock of that unforgettable day, he realized that life was far too short. He made a vow to do what he had always wanted to do. That’s when he decided to add professional actor to his long list of accomplishments. Read his story.
Maurice “Bo” Ellis
NCAA champion and designer of famous “untucked” uniform
Bo Ellis is a Marquette sports legend, who currently does scouting for the Milwaukee Bucks, was captain of the 1977 men’s NCAA championship basketball team and was MVP in 1975 and ’77. He played for three years in the NBA and later in Europe and was inducted into the M Club Hall of Fame three times — with the 1974 NCAA runner-up team, with the ’77 national championship team and as an individual. He has received the NABC Merit Award, NABC All-American Silver Anniversary Award and NCAA Silver Anniversary Award. He also is a member of the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame. Marquette men’s basketball has always been famous for their unique uniforms, which can be accredited to Bo Ellis. During his time on the team, Coach McGuire and Ellis had mutual respect for one another and became close, and Bo designed the team’s iconic untucked jersey. These jerseys not only represented Bo’s creativity, but how every player was encouraged to express their unique personalities beyond the court. All of this contributed to the team winning the NCAA basketball championship.
Dr. Howard Fuller
Longtime education activist and reformer
A longtime education advocate, Fuller became an associate director of the Equal Opportunity Program before he served as superintendent of the Milwaukee Public Schools. Today, Fuller continues to advocate for educational system reforms and particularly focuses on school choice. His nonprofit, the Black Alliance for Educational Options, promotes school vouchers for low-income children to attend private schools. He is a distinguished professor of education, founder of the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette, and holds at Ph.D. from Marquette in Sociological Foundations of Education.
Hedge Fund Investor and founder of Marquette’s Applied Investment Management (AIM) Program
As Forbes wrote in a profile, Heard grew up in Milwaukee and took an interest in investing early on. He began reading classics like Peter Bernstein’s Against the Gods and won a summer internship at Merrill Lynch. While at Marquette, he founded and established the university’s Applied Investment Management (AIM) Program. AIM was the first undergraduate business program in the nation to be selected as a Program Partner by the CFA Institute. A strong proponent of higher education, Mr. Heard gives motivational speeches to students about leadership, globalism and the nature of competition.
One of the best players in Marquette basketball history plays professionally for WNBA
Hiedeman capped her decorated Marquette basketball career — including multiple BIG EAST titles — by being named a unanimous BIG EAST Player of the Year. She was drafted with the 18th overall pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft, the highest of any Marquette basketball player in school history and the highest draft pick for the BIG EAST conference since conference re-alignment. Today, she plays professionally for the Connecticut Sun.
Super Bowl champion earned his doctorate at Marquette
After winning a Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers, Koonce went onto graduate school and earned his doctorate degree at Marquette. He became one of only two Packers players to earn their doctorate in the team’s history. Koonce’s doctoral dissertation was entitled “Role Transition of National Football League Players: Using the Grounded Theory.” The research then became the basis for his book, Is There Life After Football? — Surviving the NFL. Currently, he serves as Senior Vice President of the Office of University Relations at Marian University.
Milwaukee sheriff and former security supervisor for Major League Baseball
Earnell Lucas was sworn in as Milwaukee County Sheriff in 2019. Prior to being elected Sheriff, Earnell oversaw the security operations for all of Major League Baseball, and as the Supervisor of Security for Commissioner Bud Selig. Before joining the commissioner’s office, Earnell enjoyed a 25-year career with the Milwaukee Police Department, retiring as captain. Earnell graduated cum laude from Marquette in 2000 with a degree in criminology and law studies. He also is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command, at which he was awarded the Franklin Kreml Leadership Award.
Marquette Law alumna was first Bachelorette of color
Rachel rose to fame in 2017, she became The Bachelorette, the first African-American woman to be cast as the lead on the show. Before Fame
Rachel earned a degree in kinesiology and sports management at the University of Texas. She would later earn a degree in law from Marquette University Law School. Rachel is now an attorney for the firm Cooper in Dallas, Texas.
After growing up in South Africa during the apartheid era, she returned and became a post-apartheid TV personality
Felicia Mabuza-Suttle was born in South Africa during the apartheid era. In the 1960s and 70s, black South Africans went overseas to study to evade the apartheid regime, and Mabuza-Suttle was amongst them, studying at Marquette. In the 80s, she became the first member of her family to achieve a college degree when she earned a BA in Journalism, followed by an MA in Mass Communication. In South Africa, she hosted the popular The Felicia Show, and she interviewed Nelson Mandela and other luminaries. She is author of Dare to Dream, her memoir describing how she answered Nelson Mandela’s call to all South Africans living abroad to come back home to help build a new democracy.
Former U.S. Education Secretary and first African American state superintendent of education for the District of Columbia
Hosanna is president and CEO of Legacy RED Group Inc., a general construction company centered on building affordable housing. As an educator, Hosanna realized that ensuring children’s basic needs are met — like food, shelter and safety — plays an important role in urban education. Hosanna served as the first African American state superintendent of education for the District of Columbia. In addition to many other roles, she served as chief of staff to Arne Duncan during his tenure as chief executive of Chicago Public Schools. She later went on to become U.S. Education Secretary.
Marine Corps Col. Lorna Mahlock
First black woman to be nominated to the rank of brigadier general
Marine Corps Col. Lorna M. Mahlock become the first black woman to be nominated to the rank of brigadier general. In 2016, she discussed her experience in the Marine Corps as part of a video dedicated to Women’s History Month. “Over my 30 years in the Marine Corps, my experience in terms of how women have evolved has been very positive,” she said in the video. “It’s been a steady rise. I’m very, very hopeful.”
Father Bryan Massengale
Leading Catholic ethicist and scholar of theological ethics and racial justice
Before joining the faculty at Fordham University, Father Massingale was on the faculty at Marquette, where he received the highest award for excellence in teaching. He has written over 80 articles, book chapters, and book reviews for publications, including Theological Studies, New Theology Review, Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, Philosophy and Theology, Journal of Religion and Society, The National Catholic Reporter, and Catholic Peace Voice. His book, Racial Justice and the Catholic Church won a first place book award from the Catholic Press Association.
Helped get Black History Month started in congress
Born in Atlanta, Ralph Metcalfe (1910–1978) was America’s leading sprinter from 1932–1934. During his sophomore year at Marquette, Metcalfe equaled the world record of 10.3 seconds in the 100-meter dash. Metcalfe competed in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, racing to virtual tie with Eddie Tolan in the 100 meters. The Marquette sprinter also earned a bronze medal in the 200 meters at Los Angeles. Following military service in World War II, Ralph Metcalfe moved to Chicago and ran for elected office. In 1970 Metcalfe won the first of four successful campaigns for the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the Illinois 1st congressional district. Rep. Metcalfe was a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus and introduced the Congressional resolution that officially established Black History Month.
Dr. Arnold Mitchem
Founder of the nation’s first EOP program
Dr. Arnold L. Mitchem is an internationally recognized leader in advancing the cause of equal educational opportunity. His pioneering work in this field began when he became the founding director of Marquette’s EOP in 1969. Under his leadership, EOP gained a national reputation as a model for providing services to help students overcome barriers that traditionally impede access and success in higher education. His leadership shaped Marquette’s EOP as a national model for educational opportunity programming and opened the doors of higher education to all students, regardless of background or privilege.
First African American elected to Congress from the State of Wisconsin
Moore was elected to represent Wisconsin’s 4th Congressional District in 2004, making her the first African American elected to Congress from the State of Wisconsin. The eighth of nine children, Congresswoman Moore’s father was a union factory worker and her mother was a public school teacher. Congresswoman Moore attended North Division High School in Milwaukee, where she served as Student Council President. After graduation, she started college at Marquette University as a single, expectant mother on welfare who could only complete her education with the help of TRIO. Congresswoman Moore earned a degree in Political Science from Marquette, and went on to serve as a community leader spearheading the start-up of a community credit union as a VISTA volunteer for which she earned the national “VISTA Volunteer of the Decade” award from 1976–1986.
Judge Derek Mosley
Created award-winning crime-fighting initiatives after earning J.D. from Law School
From 1995 until his appointment to the bench, Derek Mosley served as an Assistant District Attorney for Milwaukee County. This unit works with residents to reduce urban blight and to improve the quality of life. As the head of this unit, Mr. Mosley helped to establish after-school programs, established a Second Chance Felony Employment Initiative for offenders, closed 100 drug houses and nuisance properties, and started a police and citizen crime-fighting initiative, which was awarded the Law Enforcement Honor Award by the United States Department of Justice. His community activities include sitting on the Board of Directors of a number of non-profit organizations, serving on the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Public Trust & Confidence Committee, Public Image Committee and the Minority Recruitment Committee. He has nearly 5,000 followers on his personal Facebook page, where he shares important Black History Month posts like this one.
International human rights attorney in Afghanistan
Kimberley Motley is a Milwaukee native who earned her masters and law degree from Marquette at the same time she was raising two children. A year later in 2004, she won the Miss Wisconsin-America competition and used the platform to promote her passion for juvenile justice. Since then she has served as a public defender in Racine, Milwaukee, and most notably Afghanistan where she was the first foreigner to ever litigate in Afghan courts. She now is the head of her own firm, Motley Legal, which serves clients internationally.
In addition to serving as a litigator for individuals in Afghanistan, she has authored a comic book called The Disruptorz which details the work of a superhero-like firm of lawyers who travel the world using their powers to promote the common good. If you’d like to learn more about Kimberley’s work, be sure to watch her Ted Talk embedded above or the documentary Motley’s Law.
Lisa Osbourne Ross
Chief Operation Officer for Edelman
Lisa Osbourne Ross, Jour ’84, has been named a Top Five Industry Leader by PR Week, Woman of the Year by Washington Women in Public Relations and was recently named U.S. chief operating officer for Edelman. She has spent more than 20 years excelling at reputation management for public- and private-sector organizations, designing and executing public affairs, branding and marketing campaigns for America’s Promise, the United Way of America, the Children’s Defense Fund, Pfizer, and the countries of Switzerland and the Netherlands, among others. Read more about her journey.
First African American woman attorney in Wisconsin
Because they and their ancestors were free, the Raimeys had been able to settle in Milwaukee in the 1840s. They were among the first African American families to do so. Mabel Watson Raimey studied English in college and graduated in 1918. She was the first African American woman to obtain a bachelor’s degree from UW–Madison. After she earned her bachelor’s degree, she was hired to teach in the Milwaukee public school district, but after only three days she was fired because her employer found out she was African American. After that, she worked as a legal secretary while attending night classes at Marquette University Law School.
Valerie Wilson Reed
Helped create the Ethnic Alumni Association and its scholarship
As a freshman, she made fast friends, one of whom is the niece of then-President John P. Raynor, S.J., who became a trusted mentor for Valerie. After graduation, Father Raynor kept in touch and always encouraged her to get involved with Marquette alumni clubs. She did, but felt disconnected when she and a college friend attended an alumni event in Tampa. Valerie told Father Raynor that Marquette’s materials didn’t speak to ethnically diverse alumni — so in 2001 she chaired the fundraising effort to establish Marquette’s Ethnic Alumni Association. Valerie helped raise $25,000 to create the Ralph H. Metcalfe, Sr., Scholarship. “We wanted to let minority students know about EAA and help them realize that they are threads in the fabric of Marquette,” Valerie says.
Valerie served as EAA’s president from 2004 to 2006. She later became a director of the Marquette University Alumni Association National Board, went on to be elected MUAA president in 2010 to 2011, and has since broadened her volunteer impact by serving as an MUAA mentor, College of Communication advisory board member, Summer Send-off host, event speaker, among other roles. While she’s attended hundreds of events as an alumna, these days Valerie also is proud to call herself a Marquette parent. Her daughter Francesca graduated from the College of Communication in 2014.
Star basketball player turned coach lead the Boston Celtics to a championship
A former guard for Marquette men’s basketball, Doc Rivers then became an NBA player shortly after Marquette and is now head coach of the Boston Celtics. In 2008, with Doc Rivers as head coach the Celtics won the NBA championship title. Doc has also won the J. Walter Kennedy Basketball Citizenship Award in 1990 and the Rainbow Sports Awards’ Male Coach of the Year in 2000. He’s also a member of the All-Star Advisory Council for the Jr. NBA and Jr. WNBA youth basketball support programs and a Marquette Trustee.
Best known for starring in the beloved Disney TV show “That’s So Raven”
You may know Rondell Sheridan from his successful career in the TV and film industry (e.g. acting, directing, stand-up comedy), but we know him as a Marquette alumnus. Some famous projects he has been involved in include “That’s So Raven,” “Cory in the House,” and “Raven’s Home.”
First student of color to serve as editor of The Marquette Tribune returns to lead Neighborhood News Service after accomplished daily newspaper career
Ron Smith, Prof St ’05, Grad ’09, took his curiosity from his south side Chicago neighborhood, where he reported for the youth media organization New Expression, to the basement of Johnston Hall, where he was the first student of color to serve as editor of The Marquette Tribune. He reported and edited at several papers in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times, The Oregonian and Newsday, before serving as the deputy managing editor for daily news and production at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, for which he worked 14 years. In 2016 Smith moved to Washington, D.C., to be the managing editor for news at USA Today. He returned to Marquette in February to lead the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, a nonprofit news organization whose mission is to objectively report on Milwaukee’s central city neighborhoods and coach student journalists. He is known by his many friends as Ronshine for his relentlessly positive demeanor.
Cherryl T. Thomas
Chicago’s first female building commissioner and president/CEO of engineering consulting firm
For 30 years, she worked for the city of Chicago in various positions, including her role as the city’s first woman building commissioner. What started off as a fascination of building and tinker toys at a young age has now turned into something greater. Today, Cherryl is president and CEO of Ardmore Associates, a Chicago engineering consulting firm. In addition to her leadership on the boards of several Chicago-area nonprofit organizations, Cherryl has served on Marquette’s Board of Trustees for more than a decade and was elected vice-chair in 2014. She’s also a big believer in the power of scholarship aid: She has established scholarships for financially needy students at grammar schools, high schools and two universities, including Marquette. At Marquette, she supports scholarships for students majoring in biology, chemistry, physics or engineering.
NBA Player for the Phoenix Suns and Chief Legal Counsel for Wisconsin Department of Commerce
Coming all the way from Canton, Georgia, Joe Thomas began his career at Marquette in the late sixties where he played basketball for three seasons before graduating and joining the NBA. He was the star Forward who served as Team Captain his senior season and helped lead Marquette to it’s first and only NIT Championship in 1970. In the fall of 1969, Al McGuire personally selected Thomas to present Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins with custom Marquette jogging suits in honor of their lunar accomplishments.
Joe graduated in 1970 from the College of Business Administration and went on to play two seasons (1970–72) in the NBA with the Phoenix Suns. Following his professional success on the courts, Joe decided to return to Marquette to try his luck in the courts. He graduated from the Law School in 1975 and has since practiced in private, corporate, and government settings for over 30 years, including his role as Chief Legal Counsel for the Wisconsin Department of Commerce.
Former MUBB Leading Scorer, VP of Corporate Communications at Briggs and Stratton, and Community Leader
George Thompson is another Marquette Basketball legend who went on to do extraordinary things after his career on the court. While attending Marquette from 1966–1969 he set the all-time leading scoring record of 1,773 which stood until 2009. He was also an All-American during both his junior and senior seasons. After an impressive professional basketball career with the NBA and ABA, he distinguished himself in the private sector and served as the Vice President for Corporate Communications/Community Relations at Briggs and Stratton. His efforts were instrumental in promoting philanthropic relations for Briggs & Stratton, and the company has since become the lead sponsor for Briggs & Al’s Run, a run/walk founded by Coach Al McGuire that has raised more than $13 million for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
Thompson also provided radio coverage of Marquette Basketball for 23 years and is an inductee to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame. He was also named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches Silver Anniversary All-American Team. In addition, he has been the recipient of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s African American Community Leadership Award. He’s also been incredibly active in community affairs and has served on the Board of Directors of the Milwaukee World Festival, the Children’s Health Education System, Inc., and the Wisconsin Tobacco Control Board.
Dominique Jordan Turner
President and CEO of Chicago Scholars and 2018 Obama Fellow
Dominique is a first-generation high school and college graduate who earned her MBA from Marquette in 2006. She has earned the honor of being selected for several prestigious leadership programs including IMPACT through Chicago Urban League and University of Chicago, the Trinity Fellowship in Urban Leadership, New York University’s Lead the Way Fellowship and the Broad Residency in Urban Education. As a leader in the world of service, she is passionate about creating equal opportunities for education among underprivileged youth which has led to her success as President and CEO of the Chicago Scholars program and an Obama Fellow. On top of everything else, Dominique is fluent in Spanish and spent two years volunteering with the Peace Corps in Panama. In February of 2020, she was selected by Lebron James as Team Lebron’s Charity of Choice following the NBA All-Star game for her work with Chicago Scholars. Read more about her story here.
On the court and off the court, Dwyane Wade is a star
You already know about his basketball accolades, including NBA championships, an Olympic gold medal and a Final Four appearance while at Marquette. But he really shines off the court. In 2003, he founded The Wade’s World Foundation, which provides support to community-based organizations that promote education, health, and social skills for children in at-risk situations. Dwyane Wade was even highlighted in the media lately with the resurface of him paying Marquette Law Alumna, Tamara Johnson’s tuition in full.
Dr. Lloyd Walton
A counselor helping players prepare for continued success once they retire
Lloyd knows firsthand that the transition to life after NBA glory can be difficult. The former NBA point guard now serves as a counselor helping players prepare for continued success once they retire from the league. Walton chose Marquette from among more than 200 schools offering athletics scholarships, and helped the team reach the NCAA Championship in 1974. After his playing career, Lloyd earned a master’s degree in human services and a doctorate in education. Lloyd says that his leadership style “is rooted in Dr. Martin Luther King’s quote, ‘Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.’”
Maxine Aldridge White
First African-American woman to serve on the Wisconsin Court of Appeals
Maxine Aldridge White graduated from Marquette Law School in 1985, and was the first African American woman to serve as a federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Recently, Gov. Tony Evers appointed her to the state appeals court, making her the first African American woman to serve at that level.
Marquette law professor who grew up in the segregated South
Professor Phoebe Williams was born and raised in the segregated South, in Memphis. She has said that she remembers when she was eight years old, her father came home from his job as a schoolteacher and told her about the United States Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which struck down segregation in public schools. A young Professor Williams expected to see change immediately; she thought she would be able to go to the schools, libraries, museums, and parks that had been reserved “for whites only.” That did not happen. And it took a number of years and the hard work of many lawyers and activists before such change finally occurred. But a young Professor Williams watched and learned. She credits her parents — both educators — with instilling in her the value of education and of service, and the value of pursuing goals with perseverance and hope. Professor Williams left Memphis for Milwaukee when she enrolled as an undergraduate at Marquette. A decade after her graduation from Marquette, she returned, this time as a law student. After four years in private practice, Professor Williams joined the faculty. In 2015, she received the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Milwaukee Bar Association.