Jeffrey Clay Erlanger Civility in Public Discourse Award Winner is Dr. Fabu Carter


Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway announced that Dr. Fabu Carter is the recipient of the 2023 Jeffrey Clay Erlanger Civility in Public Discourse Award. 

The award was created by Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and 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.

Dr. Fabu Carter

Dr. Fabu Carter is an educator, activist, poet and historian, whose work has touched the people of Madison for decades. As a longtime Madison leader, she has tirelessly advocated for justice, equity and inclusion and was a critical member of the team that established the Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development. Dr. Carter served as Madison’s third poet laureate and was the first African American to be appointed to this position. In this role, she created opportunities for diverse voices to be heard including focusing on the voices of youth. She has created countless programs in support of the arts and has served on numerous committees including the Madison Arts Commission. Dr. Carter continues her work on behalf of disadvantaged and marginalized communities through her work at the UW School of Medicine & Public Health Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center’s Inclusion of Underrepresented Groups Program, where she serves as a senior outreach program manager – increasing awareness of Alzheimer’s in the African American community. She also leads the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project – visiting local nursing homes and leading poetry groups for older adults with dementia. Throughout her life’s work and across all environments, she has worked to effect change by creating opportunities for civil discourse, celebrating differences and leading with compassion, respect, kindness and honesty.

"We are so excited that Dr. Fabu Carter is this year’s recipient of the Jeffrey Clay Erlanger Civility in Public Discourse Award,” said Pam Erlanger, Jeff’s mother. “Her work in advocacy and the arts more than embodies the characteristics we look for when selecting an award recipient. Her leadership, dedication and ability to engage in and manage difficult conversations with compassion, respect and an appreciation for others’ opinions and experiences truly exemplifies the values of this award. We are thrilled that she is receiving this award and know that Jeffrey would be proud."

“Dr. Fabu Carter’s contributions to our city make her an excellent choice for this year’s Erlanger Award,” said Mayor Rhodes-Conway. “Her passion, dedication and willingness to have difficult conversations to improve and enrich the lives of Madison residents are values she shares with Jeff Erlanger. She has been a leader in Madison for years and continues to work on behalf of those who may not have a voice of their own.“

As the recipient of this year’s award, a contribution of $250 will be made to the non-profit of choice of both Dr. Carter and the individual who nominated her. 

The Erlanger Award is an annual recognition and will be presented at the January 9, 2024 Common Council meeting.

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