When Makda Fessahaye was age 28, and only five years out of law school, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers appointed her as the top administrator of the Division of Adult Institutions at the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. That was in 2019. “You go for it because when else do you get a gubernatorial appointment,” Fessahaye said.

She went on to become the chief human resources officer for the city of Milwaukee, and now serves as associate vice chancellor and chief human resources officer for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In Episode 10 of the Bottom Up Podcast, produced by the State Bar of Wisconsin, co-hosts Emil Ovbiagele and Kristen Hardy talk with Fessahaye about her journey. 

She talks about her skills as a relationship-builder, her path into top administrative positions, her father’s influence, and the importance of building community.