GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — E-Ben Grisby said he wasn’t expecting to win the 2021 Wisconsin Leadership Community Choice Awards Man of Excellence distinction.
“It surprised me,” he said. “I was humbled.”
The Man of Excellence Award, presented by Madison365, is awarded to a man of color who has made significant contributions to his community.
“It’s also a great honor to have the respect and value from the community, and feeling respected and valued by the community here in northeast Wisconsin and beyond,” Grisby said.
A native of New York City, Grisby made the move to Wisconsin 17 years ago.
“It wasn’t necessarily the easiest transition to make,” he recalled, “but I would say in the last decade or so, I would say we’ve gotten a lot better in terms of seeming more welcoming.”
Grisby works to help make the community more welcoming every day as a Special Education Teacher at West High School, and in his role as Co-Chair of Celebrate Diversity Fox Cities.
“We talk a lot about doing outreach and education, helping people in the community find their voice,” Grisby said of the organization.
He says his work with the community continues at his teaching job.
“I think it’s super powerful [for students] to be able to have that opportunity to connect with adults they normally would not ever see,” Grisby explained, “considering our youth are much more diverse in population and in background in this area than in previous decades.”
Grisby will be honored Friday evening, in a Facebook live awards show.
It’s a far cry from where he was last year.
“A year ago this week I was diagnosed with Covid,” Grisby said, “and I survived that, you know, in spite of everything, to go from a year ago being in a hospital bed.”
He added that he hopes that his award shows others in Northeast Wisconsin that you don’t have to live in a big city to make a difference.
“It lets folks know that you can live outside of Madison and Milwaukee and still have an impact on your community,” he said.