Reverend Willie E. Brisco
Minister Willie E. Brisco, said, “If I have to choose a title or a name, it would be that of servant.” In 2010, the non-profit organization, Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICHAH), elected Minister Brisco its president. His second two-year term continues through November of 2015.
MICAH, a multi-racial interfaith nonprofit organization, focuses on social justice issues in education, jobs and economics, prisons, and immigration. Affiliated with WISDOM, a statewide organization and Gamaliel, a nation-wide foundation, MICAH organizes people of many traditions to work together to empower themselves for justice. A WiSDOM representative to “The African American Leadership Commission,” of the Gamaliel Foundation, Minister Brisco also serves with the “Milwaukee Transitional Jobs Collaborative.”
His steadfast love of God now provides a foundation for his commitment to create change backed by the religious faith instilled in him as a youngster by his mother and grandmother. He firmly trusts that God led him to a 25-year MilwaukeeCounty corrections career as an on-site witness in order to effectively minister and advocate for re-entry programs that dissuaded people from continuously returning. After attaining the rank of Assistant Superintendant through many courses of study, in 2009, he retired to begin a new career as a full-time minister. Working in the prison system provided eye-opening experiences. These experiences and living in varied environments shaped his strong commitment to help others better their lives.
Born in the small town of Sardis, MS, Willie’s early years with his family were spent on a self-sustaining farm during imposed segregation’s waning years. When Willie was a teenager, his family moved briefly to Detroit, MI before finally settling in Milwaukee. He observed middle class black people doing well. Graduating from NorthDivisionHigh School in 1972, he witnessed Milwaukee’s gradual decline. Good jobs dried up as prejudices, injustices, and Jim Crow laws resurfaced. Community safety deteriorated. Incarceration percentages increased for African Americans and more people lived in desperation.
Originally interested in journalism, Willie attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but left in his sophomore year. He then attended MilwaukeeAreaTechnicalCollege and held various jobs leading to a prison system career. During his 25-year employment in corrections he completed courses in management and leadership at the United States Justice Department’s National Institute of Corrections in Longmont, CO and graduated, in 1997, from the Northwestern University Traffic Institute School of Police Staff and Command.
As he worked in the secular world, he also worked on his religious growth. Minister Brisco was a long time member of The Way of The Cross Missionary Baptist Church where he served as deacon, male chorus president, and the men’s ministry president. In 2007 Minister Brisco assisted in the formation of AbidingFellowshipChurch under the leadership of Pastor Anthony Olliphant, where he held the same offices as at the Way of The Cross until he joined NewCovenantBaptistChurch as a full-time minister under the leadership of Dr. F.L Crouthers.
By promoting alternatives to incarceration, The 11 x 15 Campaign, addresses decreasing Wisconsin’s incarceration rate – one of the highest in the nation. Minister Brisco explains, “Locked up for alcohol and drugs, 11,000 Wisconsin prisoners, by 2015, must be freed for treatment instead of staying imprisoned. Young men and women over and over return to the correctional system and must get out of their own way to stay out. Successful prosperous people almost always had someone to steer them in the right direction.” By traveling the “road to excellence,” Minister Brisco committed to change as an important guiding force and selflessly serves. Married to Sandra Brisco in 1991, they are the parents of two boys and three girls and have nine grandchildren.