Annette Miller Forms Equity by Design
Taking Equity Citywide
After earning her master’s degree from Edgewood College,
Annetter Miller decided to take her passion for equity and
inclusion to another stage through Equity by Design.
because I didn’t know that I was in menopause. I didn’t know what to expect and it came really fast and quick and really just disrupted me
physically and emotionally. I really wasn’t prepared. I had all of these things and I’ve had all of these things happening at the same time. The
beauty of it is that I got this opportunity of being able to have another look at my life and look behind me and see the person. I say, ‘Here’s what
I’ve done. Here is how I feel about what I’ve done.’ I feel good. I feel healthy. And I have the opportunity to think about what I want to do next.”
Now Miller had an inkling of what she wanted to do with her life, something that is an extension of who she is and what she has a passion for.
But being an African American woman in a predominantly Euro-American community, Miller feared being typecast in a role that would limit her
life’s chances. So she had to face her own personal fears and perceptions.
“I decided to turn my passion and love for creating inclusional spaces with intention,” Miller said. “At one point, I was fighting it because I didn’
t want to be the Black girl doing race and equity stuff and be pigeon-holed and be limited and be seen in that light. What I had come to
understand with all of these other maturity-like happenings in my life is that I was the one limiting myself and defining myself in that way. I didn’
t need to be defined in that way. In fact, a beautiful way to think about it is that I am a champion, a fighter for communities that are
underrepresented or marginalized because of their identity. And I am really good at it. And once I learned that I was really good at it, I said, ‘Why
would I shy away from having that title and doing that work?’ And I said that I shouldn’t. I winged into that. I needed to be ready to make a
It was time for Miller to fly from the nest and venture off to do the work where her passion and knowledge outgrew working for anyone
organization. Miller would form her own business, Equity by Design, to take that passion to a communitywide level where she could flexibly
work with individuals and organizations on taking their equity plans to the next level.
Miller is grateful for the 20 plus years that she has worked in the Madison area — in some ways always working on inclusion — methodically
developing her skills, knowledge and contacts to build the foundation from which she is taking off today.
“When I worked for state government and I haven’t done that for 12 years, I ended up basically taking on a role as a policy advisor and also in
some ways, an auditor of programs,” Miller said. “But growing that function was really to talk about impact to groups of people, people in the
workforce and not in the workforce. And then I was just really looking at state agencies and their impact on state government. And so that
level of work and that level of robustness helped me be a great analytical thinker around policy, healthy impact, how to make good programs
for people and people the government serves who tend to be underrepresented groups most times.”
When she came aboard Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz’s administration as a deputy mayor, Miller engaged community in a way that working
for state government did not allow.
“I was working with neighborhoods, community activists, non-profits and the business community who wanted to transform their relationships
and the work that they do in the city,” Miller said. “And so, I really got to really grow exponentially my relationships and my network in Dane
County. And I really also got to work with other municipal governments as well and have these relationships too, which was really amazing
and wonderful. I will say that working at the city is what really opened me up to the fact that I love community and I love making a difference for
people and people in neighborhoods and community.”
Miller left the city and worked at MG&E spearheading their community engagement. It allowed her to design and implement programs designed
around sustainability and inclusion and see their impact on the community. Her skill set was complete.
Next issue: MG&E and Equity by Design
By Jonathan Gramling
It seemed as if Annette Miller had been building up to this moment her
whole professional life and it was time to take a Sankofa moment, to reflect
back in order to see where she was going professionally. In some ways,
she was at a crossroads in her life and if she was going to do “it,”
whatever “it” was, then she had better decide before life made the decision
Miller had just gotten her master’s degree in social innovation and
leadership and was asked going into the program, ‘If you could do anything,
what would it be?’ It got her thinking.
“I’m coming up on a ‘0’ in my life,” Miller confided as we sat in her office at
Synergy Co-working. “And I feel like when people hit zeroes in their lives,
there is always a period of reflection. And I have been having this period of
reflection for some time now because my partner had already hit that ‘0.’ It
has been present in my mind. And something that people may not talk a lot
about, but I want to be candid about is I am hitting up on a ‘0’ by which I’ve
already experienced menopause. I was early. It really shook me up