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Matthew Ellis and Karen Graham Honored At Black Excellence Awards

February 27, 2023

Matthew Ellis, lead asset protection specialist, and Karen Graham, manager of the 91st Street Workforce Connection Center in Milwaukee, received the Extraordinary Achievement Award at the annual Black Excellence Awards held on February 24, 2023.

The award recognizes Black/African Americans who have overcome obstacles and stand out in the community. Ellis and Graham join previous award honoree Goodwill Chief Communications and Diversity Officer, Angela Adams, who won the Corporate Trailblazer Award in 2019.

Since 1985, the Black Excellence Awards event has honored 1,400 business and community leaders who positively impact the community. In addition, the event has raised more than half a million dollars for the Louvenia Johnson Scholarship Foundation, which gifts 12 scholarships annually to service-minded Black/African American high school seniors continuing to college or trade school.

Learn more about the Black Excellence Awards and Louvenia Johnson Scholarship here.

Meet The Goodwill Honorees

Matthew Ellis_Headshot_News Webpage

Matthew Ellis

Matthew Ellis is a lead asset protection specialist supporting more than 25 Goodwill Store & Donation Centers with loss prevention, training and compliance. Ellis started with Goodwill in 2014 as an asset protection agent with a commitment to growing his skills and expertise in his role. After demonstrating advancement, strong leadership and an ability to manage sensitive security issues, Ellis was promoted in May 2020 to his current role where he works closely with management teams to mitigate loss.

Ellis is a role model within Goodwill consistently displaying a high aptitude for treating team members, customers and the community with grace and dignity. He offers coaching and mentorship to team members to help them navigate barriers and maintain employment. He connects customers in need of additional support to free employment resources offered through our Workforce Connection Centers and to our Goodwill Cares Community Assistance program which helps people in need of emergency assistance obtain clothes and household items from our store & donation centers.

In 2021, Ellis joined Goodwill’s Boys & Men of Color Initiative becoming part of the first cohort of employees to experience the pilot program focused on supporting progress through mentorship, leadership development, career navigation, and financial empowerment. Ellis embraced the experience and has become more involved at Goodwill, participating in volunteering events and community engagement opportunities to support youth.

Watch this video to get to know more about Matthew Ellis and his experience with Goodwill.

Karen Graham_Headshot_News Webpage

Karen Graham

Karen Graham is the manager of the largest and most utilized Workforce Connection Center in Wisconsin located on 91st Street on Milwaukee’s northwest side. Graham has more than 10 years of service connecting job seekers to employment opportunities and resources they need to be successful in the workforce.

Prior to joining Goodwill, Graham served the community as deputy sheriff for the Milwaukee County Health & Human Services Division of Children, Youth & Family focused on anti-gang initiatives and drug abuse resistance education. Following her time as deputy sheriff, Graham served as operations and facility manager at HeartLove Place where she created and managed the first Family Resource Center and facilitated healthy parenting curricula to court ordered and voluntary parents. Graham also held the role of program manager at Parents Plus, Inc. where she assisted in the formation and deployment of healthy relationship curricula throughout Wisconsin.

Volunteering for more than 20 years, Graham is an active member of her community known for her servant heart. Utilizing her history in dance, Graham offers continuous learning and skill development through liturgical dance instruction within several churches throughout the greater Milwaukee area. She also dedicates her time with Goodwill partner organizations such as Lead2Change to help equip young people with tools to be successful in college, their careers and the community. Graham is devoted to uplifting small business startups and is instrumental in building Goodwill’s partnership with the Sherman Phoenix Foundation by working together to bring employment resources and opportunities to the community through an ongoing presence at the Sherman Phoenix Marketplace.

Supporting The Workforce Of The Future

Goodwill is committed to supporting the workforce of the future and creating equitable opportunities by working with community partners to achieve zero barriers to employment, equity and inclusion. As part of this commitment, Goodwill contributed $5,000 to the Louvenia Johnson Scholarship Foundation to support Milwaukee’s Black/African American high school seniors in building their futures and deepening community impact.

Click the link to learn more about how Goodwill works with community partners such as Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy to provide equitable opportunities and engage students and their families in experiences that advance education, employment training and career pipeline opportunities.

Goodwill Donates Northside Milwaukee Facility To Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy

Mission Support Center
Tel: (414) 847-4200

James O. Wright Center forWork & Training
Tel: (414) 353-6400

Metropolitan Chicago -
Tel: (312) 994-1440