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District 10

Alder Yannette Figueroa Cole

Image of Alder Yannette Figueroa Cole

Alder Yannette Figueroa Cole

Contact Information

Home Address:

4327 Milford Rd

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service

Alder Figueroa Cole’s Updates

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: Family, Friends & Relationships

October 16, 2022 10:21 AM

October 15 was the last day of the National Hispanic Heritage Month celebration

Hope you enjoyed the blog entries celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month and the opportunity to get to learn about people living in our communities who provide services to the city of Madison and Dane County.  I wanted to end the series by sharing with you my family journey.  Every action creates a ripple effect that impacts other aspects of our lives and the lives of others.  I could pinpoint the beginning of my own journey to Madison to when my grandparents christened one of their young friend's older children.  I was not even born then but it turns out that this young lady had a large family, and she had a daughter my age.  Evelyn and I grew up together and went to the same church, the same youth group, and the same schools, we were in the same classes together from the first day we were enrolled in school to our high school graduation.

After high school, I went to college and Evelyn came to Madison with her older sister Blanca.  A few years later I followed Evelyn to Madison, leaving college, family, and friends behind.  Her husband at the time Scott (my brother from another mother) found me a job at Woodman's where I met my husband.  My sister Veronica came to live with us and years later next to Evelyn and my husband she welcomed to this world her new nephew who to this day she spoils to no end.  Eventually, she started her own family.

When my husband and I needed someone to help us care for our son for a few months, my sister Heidi came to stay with us. Her help facilitated the beginning of my corporate job and career path, and since then I have worked for medical devices and biotechnology companies in the area.  One summer our niece Karmarie came for a visit and didn't return to Puerto Rico, she finished high school at West. Blanca and Evelyn continued to support their family over the years, the same way they supported me.  

Eventually, we all found ourselves working for non-profit organizations such as Centro, La Clinica Latina (Journey Mental Health), Unidos Against Domestic Violence, DAMA, Safe Harbor, Allied Wellness Center, a few other community services organizations as well as working for Public Health, MMSD, Workforce Development, UW Madison, City of Madison, the District Attorney's office and City Council.  No matter how far we are from our homeland, we always carry with us the values and responsibility of serving others.  Values we learned by emulating our parent's and grandparents' actions.

Each of us creates daily ripple effects across the city impacting many people in our community, while at the same time growing a tribe that shows up to celebrate birthdays and holidays but more importantly shows up when tragedy strikes or when community needs arise.  Never forgetting where we came from, paying it forward at any turn without seeking recognition, simply doing the work, and advocating for those that need support!

Papi's visit to Madison earlier this year 

As an Alder, I have been very intentional about keeping Council business separate from family and personal connections.  It is not an easy task when your tribe is intertwined with the same community, we are all committed to serving. But it will be a disservice not to celebrate their work and recognize their contributions to the city we all call "our home away from home"!  In full transparency, I am about to introduce family connections and some of the relationships I have formed since I made Madison my home over 30 years ago.

But first, as thankful as I am for having Blanca and Evelyn in my life; I also want to recognize and thank Scott for welcoming me (a stranger) into his home and my husband Jesse for welcoming my family into our own home.  Now allow me to introduce you to a group of women who are part of my tribe, they will share with us the power of the connections to the family you are born in and the family you make along the way. 

Meet Blanca Nydia Cruz Perez – Allied Wellness Center Manager

Family has been of great importance throughout my life. As the older sister and middle child of a family of nine kids, I felt the responsibility early on in life to open doors and guide younger siblings. I came to WI approximately thirty-five years (35) ago. I came here looking to further my education. As a newcomer in what felt like a cold place, I was seeking to expand my second language, learn new ways of doing and earn a living. I worked multiple jobs and attempted to go to school a few times while helping to support my family.

Cruz Perez Family
Blanca (2nd from top left) &
Evelyn (front row on the right)

I eventually learned to navigate the university's ways of doing things. I enrolled at UW Madison when the cows were moved out of the barn and classes were chosen by punched cards run through computers.  The student lines were a sight and you needed to be careful where you step as much as where you marked the choices for classes. Both would take a long time to fix. I finished my degrees as a returning adult.

Language has been the vehicle for communication and increased connections within and across cultures.  Communication with people who shared my first language was easier, although I discovered there are approximately 22 other Latinx cultures represented in the Madison community.  Throughout time, I have been able to enjoy connections with family and friends who have become my family.

Having the personal experiences, I had while learning a second language, I understood the need to assist others to communicate in a different language.  I worked in multiple bilingual roles to assist families to keep their bond together. As a teacher and instructor, I assisted young kids to learn their parent's and grandparents' native tongue, so they could share experiences at home and in the community. As an advocate, I used my first language to assist youth and their families navigate multiple systems so they could be successful in this community. As mental health and emotional support professional, I have been assisting families through transitions to identify ways of being that bring wellness to their lives.

As a new manager in the Allied Wellness Center, I bring an array of multicultural experiences and systems perspectives to collaborate with my staff and community to increase resilience in a neighborhood close to my heart and in which I had been having friends for over thirty years.  The interconnections that bring us together as people without judgment or creed are one of the most powerful ways of being in the presence of others. Having this kind of relationship is not just having family, it's being family!



Heidi Figueroa-Velez, Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center's Bilingual Family Advocate and Forensic Interviewer 

I first moved to Madison when I was 19 years old to help my sister Yannette and her husband Jesse with the care of their son. I stayed for a couple of years and then returned home, to Puerto Rico to go back to school and help with the care of my maternal grandparents. 

I moved back to Madison about 20 years ago, where my sister and brother-in-law welcomed me with open arms. I worked on retail for a while and eventually I started working as a Bilingual Parent Educator for CHW doing home visits with all Spanish-speaking caseload. 

Later on, I worked as a Bilingual Program Support for the Clinica Latina at Journey Mental Health, and for the past 6 ½ years I've been working for Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center as a Bilingual Family Advocate and Forensic Interviewer. Since I've been in Madison I have also volunteered with children and youth at church as a catechist.  

Working with the Latinx community brings me joy. Not only do I do my job with great passion, but Abuela Pupa's and mom's words are always with me, "Do things you are passionate about, always with love and an open heart."

I am so fortunate to be part of the Safe Harbor team and being in a position were I use my privilege to help others in need.  Child Advocacy Center started in the late eighties, with the purpose to bring together Child Protective Services, Law Enforcement, and other professionals assigned to a case involving children, by bringing all these agencies together we are also able to minimize additional child trauma. At Safe Harbor, we facilitate interviewing children about experiences no child should ever endure, but we also take intentional steps to ensure that families are connected to other services in the community.  We take pride and care in providing trauma-focused support during such hard times.

To learn more about Safe Harbor visit the following sites: 

Veronica Figueroa, Director of DAMA (Operating as Developing Artists Murals and Alliances)

Recognizing  Hispanic/Latinx Heritage is an opportunity to reflect on the contributions of the Hispanic/Latinx communities in the US. A time to celebrate our achievements, and our resilience as people. As a Puerto Rican in the diaspora, the Hispanic/Latinx heritage month serves as a reminder that no matter where we are located we must continue to embrace our culture, our roots, and our heritage. 

As a local artist and owner of Art MVF and design and director of DAMA inc, being a Spanish speaker allows me to connect deeper with the Hispanic/Latinx community and provide support to young people through reflective art processes. Having the opportunity to support the community by using my language skills is a privilege as I can relate and resonate with many of the people I have had the chance to support. 

At DAMA we have a unique opportunity to invest in youth and empower them to create a path for their future.  This summer we had the opportunity to work with 12 teenage girls from across the county from Marshall to Verona to Sun Praire to Madison.  They learned the ins and outs of mural making.  The girls also had the opportunity to interact with community leaders and explore different career paths, but more significantly and exciting they were given the time to engage in self-identity formation and self-reflection. This was more than a traditional summer program but wholesome well-rounded programming that provided them the opportunity to envision a brighter future. 

DAMA 2022 Summer Program

DAMA loves to have people from our community volunteer, from painting with us at a community event to stopping at the shop to priming Polytab and engaging with our programming. 

Connect with local organizations that serve the Latino community and volunteer. You can get involved with DAMA by contacting us at


Meet Stephanie Moreno,  South Central Regional Lead Coordinator, WRTP/BIG STEP 

I work for WRTP | BIG STEP.  This organization works to increase awareness of Registered Apprenticeship, identify and improve practices and partnerships, provide better access and resources for underserved and underrepresented populations, and promote Registered Apprenticeship as a mainstream workforce strategy. This will, in turn, strengthen, modernize, and diversify Registered Apprenticeships throughout Wisconsin and beyond. For decades, WRTP | BIG STEP has been Wisconsin's leading workforce intermediary, working to connect individuals and communities with education, training, and support to create strong and sustainable career pathways for all people.

My passion has been to help people.  This passion has led me to meet a lot of people which I call friends or even family!  It was through these relationships that I ended up working with WRTP/BIG STEP. I've been with the organization for about 7 years.  I want to be able to inform and enlighten people within our community about the industry and the great opportunities available to them. 

In my early years with WRTP/BIG STEP, one of my closest friends/family called me up to ask me if I was able to help one of her students.  This young man attended and participated in programs at school, where he grew close to my friend who put him in touch with me at WRTP | BIG STEP a few years after he graduated. WRTP |BIG STEP provided him with tutoring that helped him hone his math skills so he could test with Carpenters Local 314. 

He has just finished the fourth year of his carpenter apprenticeship with JP Cullen and journeyed out earlier this summer. He states: "JP Cullen is a great company. I learned more in the first few months of my apprenticeship than I had learned in my whole life," he says of his experience. His goal is to "become a superintendent one day and show younger Latino guys they can succeed, too."  He recommends WRTP |BIG STEP if you're interested in a career in construction and "would like to thank all the people in my life for sticking with me and believing in me and pushing me to come to WRTP |BIG STEP!"

This past summer I was able to connect one of my contacts in the trades with another friend of mine, the Director of DAMA (Developing Artists Murals and Alliances). She ran a program with young Latinas interested in Arts.  She thought of incorporating the girls with trades to learn about how apprenticeships can tie into arts. The painters provided a great presentation to this group.  It was fantastic to expose the young group of Latinas to the trades giving them options for them to maximize their skills.

This is why I do what I do.  I am here to help the people in my community/village thrive so that they are able to pass it on to others.  I want to be able to empower the people of the communities we live in, to work within their communities. Without that call from my previous coworkers/friends, they wouldn't have known about WRTP/BIG STEP.  The power of people believing in our village!  Without our village, we wouldn't be able to do the work we do. I am proud to have a great group of friends that are in my village.  As you all know, it takes a village, and my village is amazing!



Celebrating Our Heritage 365 

I decided to write these blogs because I believe that a general proclamation is not enough!  I recognize the importance of making an announcement to spark interest in others to hopefully learn something new about other cultures and to encourage new connections and new experiences.  

I strongly believe in the importance of elevating the new generation in our city.  To showcase their talents, passion, and commitment to the people in Madison and Dane County.  Most of the people that shared their experiences I met thru serving as an alder and some I just met during the sharing of these blogs.  It has been a very humbling experience for me to be trusted with their stories.  My gratitude goes to each of you for taking the time to share a glimpse of your experience and for sharing books, podcasts, and movies to further expand our knowledge. 

I look forward to the days when we don't need to remind others that we exist and that we are an integral part of the community.  The days when we are seen as humans, not as illegals or second-class citizens.  Hope those days are near for our children to experience and for the next generation not to even notice. 

Figueroa Cousins: Navidades in Wisconsin


Sisters: 365 Heritage 

A couple more resources:

In closing, I want to share La Brega a podcast about the struggles the people of Puerto Rico continue to face years after Hurricane Maria.  The full series of 8 episodes are free on Spotify and are available in both Spanish and English.  I also want to share this documentary that I know it resonates with many of us living in the diaspora regardless of where we come from or our citizenship status.  Please watch and feel free to share your thoughts.  Dear Homeland:

Thank you for taking this journey with me.  Hope you find these stories compelling and enjoy the resources provided throughout the blog series.


Proceed to YouTube directly for English Subtitles

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