Four with School of Education ties named in Madison365’s list of influential Black leaders

Madison365’s 2022 list of “Wisconsin’s 52 Most Influential Black Leaders” highlights a faculty member and three alumni from the School of Education.

Those featured are “elected leaders, business leaders, and community leaders, doing difficult, important work, often in the face of discrimination and literally generations of oppression,” according to Madison365’s CEO and publisher, Henry Sanders.

Thirteen of the 52 Black leaders named are Badgers. Those affiliated with the School of Education include: 

Brian Burt

Brian A. Burt is an associate professor in the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis and director of the Wisconsin Equity and Inclusion Laboratory (Wei LAB) at UW–Madison, where he studies the experience of graduate students and the institutional policies and practices that influence students’ pathways. Through his work, Burt looks to provide new ways to understand science participation and the experiences that might attract students to or turn them away from science pathways. Burt received the National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship and the National Science Foundation’s Early CAREER Award.

Kyree Brooks

Kyree Brooks is the associate principal of Central Heights Middle School in Sun Prairie. He earned his master’s in rehabilitation psychology and special education from UW–Madison’s School of Education, and will begin his doctoral studies in educational leadership and policy analysis this fall. 


Linda Vakunta is deputy mayor for Madison, where she assists with housing and human services issues. She previously served as program director at the Chicago-based Heartland Alliance International, where she led, developed, and designed training programs for government, community, and non-governmental organizations to combat trafficking in persons. In recent years, she has worked as a researcher with Sustaining Natural Circle’s CDC-funded grant on understanding the impacts of opioid use among African American women in Madison. Vakunta is a three-time UW–Madison graduate, and among her degrees is a master’s in rehabilitation psychology from the School of Education’s Department of Rehabilitation Psychology and Special Education.


Danyelle Wright is in her third year at Cottage Grove School as building principal with prior administrative experience with the Madison Metropolitan School District. She earned her doctorate in educational leadership and policy analysis from UW–Madison in 2022. Wright has been in the field of education for over 12 years as an educational assistant, teacher, teacher leader, dean, assistant principal, and principal. She also has experience in higher education and was an adjunct professor at Edgewood College in Madison.

Learn more about Wisconsin’s 52 Most Influential Black Leaders including other featured UW–Madison faculty, staff, and alumni.

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