The presentation of the Jeffrey Clay Erlanger Civility in Public Discourse Award to William Greer, President and CEO of Journey Mental Health Center was a very compelling event at Tuesday evening's Common Council meeting.
The award was created by the Common Council to honor Madison residents who exemplify Jeff Erlanger's model of fairness, openness, and civility in public discourse. Jeff, who passed away in 2007, was committed to public service. He understood that through civil debate and effective representation those with varying opinions could come together on how to solve issues within the community. Mr. Erlanger served on the City of Madison's Economic Development Commission and chaired the Commission on People with Disabilities as well as the Board of Directors of the Community Living Alliance.
It was wonderful to see his parents, Pam and Howard, pictured above with William Greer, at the meeting as they are involved in the selection of the deserving recipient.
For the past ten years, William Greer has served as President and CEO of Journey Mental Health Center, an organization whose mission is to improve people's lives by pioneering and sustaining effective mental health and substance abuse services. He is also an active member of 100 Black Men of Madison Inc.
"After reading the application nominating Bill and hearing incredible anecdotes about his work – and his style, we are very excited about his selection. His gentle, respectful approach to problem solving and community building truly honor Jeff's legacy," said Pam Erlanger.
I agree with the Erlangers, that Bill Greer embodies Jeff's passion for speaking out for the disenfranchised and think his selection for the award is well-deserved. While we continue to miss Jeff and his energy, it is so apparent that his spirit lives on.