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City of Milwaukee: Michael Rosen, Calvin Shields, Jr. named winners of the 2018 Frank P. Zeidler Public Service Award

Dr. Michael D. Rosen, a longtime elected labor leader, community activist and education advocate, and Calvin Shields, Jr., a veteran and a fighter for veterans issues for nearly four decades, have been named the 2018 recipients of the Frank P. Zeidler Public Service Award.

Dr. Rosen and Mr. Shields will be presented with the Zeidler award during a special ceremony on Tuesday, October 16 at 8:30 a.m. in the third floor Vel R. Phillips Ante Chamber(prior to the start of the regular meeting of the Common Council) at City Hall, 200 E. Wells St. Media coverage is invited.

Dr. Rosen moved to Milwaukee in 1970 after receiving his undergraduate degree in economics from UW-Madison, where he had been actively involved on campus in anti-racism movements and protests to end the war in Vietnam. He immersed himself in union and progressive political activities such as the fight to save the Meat Cutters Union, the movement to preserve jobs for Smith Steelworkers, and he offered leadership to the coalition for Justice for Ernest Lacy (Mr. Lacy was an unarmed black man who died in police custody in 1981).

Dr. Rosen worked as an economics instructor at MATC for 28 years and served 17 years as the elected president of American Federation of Teachers Local 212 to ensure that MATC, as a publicly-funded institution, did not lose funding for programs relied upon by students and faculty. Additionally, he has extensive community volunteer experience, and has also written numerous papers and given speeches on the economy both in Milwaukee and across Wisconsin.

In 2005 Dr. Rosen was appointed by Governor Jim Doyle to serve on the Wisconsin Technical College System Board of Directors. The state Senate rejected his appointment. The only other gubernatorial appointee to be rejected by the Senate had been Mayor Frank Zeidler in the late 1960s. Like Frank Zeidler, Michael Rosen is an outspoken opponent of racism who embraces the multi-cultural diversity Milwaukee has to offer.

Frank P. Zeidler Public Service Award
Since his retirement from MATC and the presidency of Local 212, Dr. Rosen has actively promoted the union’s FAST Fund, a non-profit organization that provides assistance to MATC students experiencing economic emergencies. Last year the Fund assisted 90 students, 40 of whom were homeless or facing eviction, thereby enabling them to keep a roof over their heads and stay in school.

“Mike Rosen has been a selfless and committed advocate for social justice and union representation, serving the Milwaukee community for nearly 50 years and helping to make history by contributing to social change. His lengthy record of service to the community and to others makes him an ideal recipient of the Frank P. Zeidler Public Service Award,” said Alderman Robert J. Bauman, chair of the Frank P. Zeidler Public Service Award Selection Committee.

Calvin Shields Jr. served in the United States Army from 1961-1965.  In 1970, he joined an organization which is now known as the National Association for Black Veterans (NABVETS). This organization led him to the Veterans Administration Regional Office in Milwaukee where he spent the next 38 years working to help veterans.

Mr. Shields was known to take on the toughest cases in which veterans, widows and their children were denied benefits. He has always had an immense passion for veterans and would allow them to stay at his house before their hearings so they could become comfortable with the strategies in their cases. Through his years at the VA, Mr. Shields met the needs of veterans who developed mental and physical disabilities, and he helped victims of Agent Orange, those with Post-Traumatic Stress and less than honorable discharges, sought amnesty for Vietnam era veterans and assisted homeless veterans and with many other veterans’ concerns.

Mr. Shields retired from the VA in 2010 and received an award from then Governor Doyle for outstanding achievements for his service to the community and veterans. After retiring from the VA, Mr. Shields went back to work for the National Association of Black Veterans where he has worked for the last eight years.

Arthur Heitzer, vice-chair of the Selection Committee, said Mr. Shields provided selfless service and dedication to fellow veterans who “would be in danger of falling through the cracks of the very society they were called on to serve.”  “Calvin Shields, Jr. followed his own military service by working tirelessly to fulfill his belief that African American veterans should not be treated as second class citizens when they returned home from war to their families and communities. Both at the VA and as a volunteer he battled effectively to help those who risked life, limb and mental well-being in military service. His skill and tenacity overturned many unjust denials that faced his clients during his 38 years at the VA, but Mr. Shields also literally worked above and beyond the call of duty by returning to work with NABVETS in the last eight years since his retirement from the VA. That outstanding record of service clearly entitles him to receive the Frank P. Zeidler Public Service Award,” Mr. Heitzer said.

Frank P. Zeidler Public Service Award
Please go to to learn more about the Frank P. Zeidler Public Service Award. To inquire about nominating someone for the award please contact Joanna Polanco at 414-286-2366 or

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