Growing up in Madison, he couldn't wait to leave. He came back with a new goal: to transform it
Isthmus, 23 December 2010
Excerpt from original source:
It's 8 p.m. on South Park Street, just off the Beltline, and the November night is dark and cold. But from the inside of the slick new Center for Economic Development and Workforce Training, home to the Urban League of Greater Madison, it looks and feels much warmer.
The first-floor library is packed, with men sunk into plush armchairs with laptops and books and kids gathered near the fireplace. Kaleem Caire looks around, pleased.
"It's nice to go from having very little interest in this part of south Madison to now having this many people coming through here," says Caire, the Urban League's president and CEO. "They feel safe. I'm here at night until 1 or 2 a.m. sometimes."
Caire, 39, is a native of Madison's south side, though he spent the last decade in Washington, D.C. He returned in March 2010 to take the Urban League job, with some trepidation.
"I love Madison," he says, "but I didn't know if it was ready for a creative entrepreneurial leader, let alone a young African American leader."
When Caire first left Madison for the U.S. Navy after high school, he was a disillusioned and angry kid who did poorly in school. Over the last 10 years, he's served on two federal government panels and is at the forefront of efforts to combat racial disparities in his hometown.
That will take some doing.