Florence Dukes is honored by Milwaukee Community Journal
Florence Dukes credits her aunt for her love of the arts. As a child her aunt saw that she took dance and voice lessons and, from that point on, she developed a love of the performing arts that has lasted a lifetime.
Though prior to her retirement in 2009, Dukes worked in a variety of managerial positions with the City of Milwaukee, her first love was always the arts, but she is thankful that her education and skills enabled her to bridge both careers.
Born in Miami, Florida, Dukes attended public schools in Dade County before attending St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. She also earned a Master’s in Management Administration from Cardinal Stritch University. Dukes moved to Milwaukee in 1971 because her husband received a fellowship to get his Master’s degree here.
When she first moved to Milwaukee Dukes served as Executive Director of the Milwaukee Learning Center before becoming Executive Director of the Milwaukee Inner City Arts Council, a position she held for more than 12 years. Dukes speaks fondly of the time spent at the Inner City Arts Council, noting that the 70s and 80s were a wonderful time for African Americans to feel proud of themselves and that, through the Inner City Arts Council, she was able to provide a platform for people to gather, experience and be exposed to the various arts, while embracing their culture and history.
The mural on the old Inner City Arts Council building (located on 7th and North Avenue) remains as a legacy to that era, but the arts and culture that was once taught and experienced there has long since fallen by the way of other funding cuts, with arts often to be the first budget to be slashed.
Dukes said that it was an exciting time—a period of awakening-- and that so many well-known Milwaukee artists—musicians, dancers, actors, and singers—nurtured and practiced their gifts at the Inner City Arts Council. Many have gone on to become successful artists and entertainers, nationally and internationally. One of the things Duke is most proud of is when the Inner City Arts Council, through the Milwaukee County Comprehensive Employment Act, was able to get artists placed in public schools to teach the arts.
These days Dukes’ involvement in the arts is mostly as a patron of the arts. She enjoys attending performances at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater and frequently attends local art shows. And, while the only tangible remnant of the Inner City Arts Council’s existence is the mural on 7th and North Avenue, Dukes is a living monument to an era of artistic beauty, cultural awareness and historical appreciation.
Florida Perry Smith is featured as guest speaker at UWM The Business of Fashion: June 13, 2013
Fashionistas, rejoice! Even though Milan is 4,500 miles away, we have fashion experts right here in Milwaukee and we’re bringing six of them together for some chic conversation on the business of fashion. It’s more than handbags and hanger appeal – we’ll cover consumer trends, the latest in fashion business intelligence, new and luxury brands, distribution channels, and of course, the biggest question in the industry: what’s next? Florida Perry Smith made her debut on the fashion scene at the age of 15 with her first fashion show production. In 1985, Smith formed Premier Fashion Network, Inc./Premier Events, LLC. The company produced grand openings, sales meetings and fashion events for the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, Mall of America, Melvin Simon & Associates, Jockey International, Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Goodwill Industries, Walgreens Co. and Bon-Ton, Inc. Smith’s expertise landed her a freelance position as show producer for Mademoiselle Magazine and fashion editor for Milwaukee Magazine’s “Ask Florida” for more than a decade. For seven seasons, Smith was creative director and co-host of the Walgreens “Health Corner” television show that aired nationally on the Lifetime channel. She hosted “For That Certain Something,” featuring interviews with Phylicia Rashad, Heidi Klum, Robin Roberts, Kim Kardashian, LeeAnn Rimes and former first lady Laura Bush. Smith has styled for Leeza Gibbons, Joan Lunden and Dr. Lisa Thornton and also appeared with Ivana Trump, Linda Dano, Mary Hart, Ann Jillian and Richard Simmons. Smith received a bachelor of science degree in biological sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. During her spare time she continues to promote women’s health issues through charitable causes and volunteerism.
Left to right:Deidra Edwards- Vice-President , Patricia Walker (scholarship Recipient), Vivian Mays- Services to Youth Chair, Clara Keal- Chapter President, Florence Dukes – Chartered Member, Dianne Pratt – Arts Chairperson and mother of scholarship recipient Genea Wragg.
Members of the Links, Incorporated – Cream City (WI) Chapter awarded two students with a $1,000.00 scholarship during their induction ceremony
on June 22, 2013.
The two scholarship recipients, Patricia Walker and Genea Wragg attend the number one rated HBCU-Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee, Florida. This is their 2nd consecutive year receiving this scholarship; both pursing their careers in the health field industry. Ms. Patricia Walker was recently accepted in the Pharmaceutical Science program and Ms. Genea Wragg has been accepted into the Nursing Program.
The Induction Luncheon was held at St. John’s on the Lake. The Links, Incorporated Cream City (WI) Chapter inducted two new members, Dr. Christlyn Frederick Stanley and Angela Denise Knight. The keynote speaker for the event was Link Joan M. Prince, Ph.D. Vice Chancellor, Global Inclusion and Engagement at The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and the 2012-2013 Alternate Representative to the 67th General Assembly of the United Nations.
Cream City (WI) Chapter welcomes these two dynamic women to Linkdom; the new members are excited about joining our chapter and look forward to giving back to the Milwaukee community.