BELOIT — Regina Dunkin is a pathfinder, and she says she hopes to set an example for young people of color to show them that hard work and getting outside of their comfort zone can pay off.
Dunkin has been named a 2020 recipient of the Beloit Daily News Laurence A. Raymer Headliner Award.
“Regina Dunkin has been, and is, a leader for all people and an effective advocate for all Beloiters. She is a bridge builder, and a community builder,” said Beloit Daily News Editor Bill Barth in making the presentation.
Dunkin’s central message in her Headliner Award acceptance speech was promoting diversity and inclusion in the Beloit area. She said the message was important now more than ever as people across the country protest racism, police brutality and fight against discrimination.
“People are finding their voices and are being heard,” Dunkin said. “We are seeing so many people who are on the fringes get involved with wanting to make their impact on the community. “You should want to stand up for it and I think this will give people the power to make a difference.”
Dunkin called racism “an American problem,” and urged people of color to become civically involved for being part of positive changes to their community.
“I would like to see a really robust conversation about tough issues on public safety and city services and how we can improve our community,” Dunkin said. “There needs to be a plan of action behind that through a citywide, community effort.”
She is the first black woman to serve as Beloit City Council president and hold a position on the Beloit School District Board of Education. Dunkin, who served as Executive Director of the Merrill Community Center for 18 years, was also the first black president of the Eclipse Charter School.
Dunkin currently works as the Community Relations Coordinator at Beloit Health System, and serves on several boards, including chairperson of the Wisconsin State Public Defender Board. Her appointment in February marked the first time the state board has been led by a black person and a woman since its inception in 1972.
“I am always looking ahead of the people that will come behind me,” Dunkin said. “It’s a tremendous honor and a tremendous responsibility to be in the positions that I hold. It’s disheartening in this day and age that some of these ‘firsts’ took so long with us being in 2020, but I try to stay positive. I want to be a visionary for the community.”