ULGM’s Sterling Lynk
Working for Change
     “We weren’t as happy as we wanted to be,” he admitted. “We were owning a job and not owning a business.”
Lynk also questioned if he was staying true to the values he hoped to keep at the forefront in his life: leadership, creativity, truth, and integrity. With these
values in mind and with the goal of creating change, Lynk ran for a seat in the Wisconsin State Assembly for the 98th District. He squared off against Rich
Zipperer (R), 32, to take over the seat of disgraced Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen. He did not win, but his drive to pursue leadership opportunities was
certainly not stunted.
     Lynk is now a board director for the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a representative on the Northside Planning Council, co-president of MATC’s
African American/Black Community Council of Color, and a public member (appointed by the governor) of the state’s Medical Mediation Panel. Add to
that his position at the Urban League of Greater Madison and Lynk easily ranks up with the best of Madison’s movers and shakers.
     Today, Lynk, along with ULGM President/CEO Scott Gray, is working to create systematic changes and growth within Madison’s Urban League, while
simultaneously keeping the organization’s mission alive. He has lofty goals for his department, but his actions to realize these goals appear rooted in
realism and sensibility.  
     “We really want to be very deliberate and very intensive,” Lynk said. “We have all these opportunities out there, so somebody has to do something.”
That “somebody,” he hopes, is Madison’s Urban League. His goal is to not just provide basic job services, but offer training and follow-up programs that will
produce lasting economic and job development growth in Madison’s African American and minority populations. In order to do so, the Urban League of
Greater Madison has added more detailed and intensive job training programs to their repertoire.
     “We are growing considerably in the size and scope of our programs,” Lynk said. “When I first started here, we only had three programs in my
department.”
     One newer program that provides hands-on training and employment services in the ever-growing health sector is the Urban League’s Medical
Administrative Training Program (MATP). The goal is to help local employers build a qualified workforce while helping unemployed and underemployed
individuals secure stable and well-paying jobs in the health sector. Participants take a 12-week course that includes medical terminology training, Epic
Software training, customer service coursework, and an 80-hour internship in a health care setting. The result is employment as a records technician,
coding assistant, medical records clerk, medical receptionist, and other health occupation support positions.
     “We prepare folks for administrative roles inside a medical setting,” Lynk explained. “There are so many opportunities in health care and [health care
employers] can’t find enough of these folks.”
     Lynk is proud to point out, that of the 300-400 people a year that take part in this program, nearly 85 percent finish the program and go on to find work.
In 2006, that number was 100 percent.   
     Other employment services offered by the Urban League of Greater Madison and partners include another new program called the Allied Drive
Partnership, which delivers employment services at the neighborhood level; the Fatherhood Program, designed to help non-custodial fathers find and keep
living wage jobs and support their children; and individualized career counseling, computer skills training, employment skills training, and job placement
assistance.
     At the Urban League of Greater Madison, Lynk is able to live by the very values that remain pertinent in his life: leadership, creativity, truth, and
integrity. At the root of his drive is the want to effect change. When the Urban League of Greater Madison published the report “The State of Black Madison
2008: Before the Tipping Point,” Lynk knew that there was still much work to be done.
     “The unemployment rate among African Americans is 2.5 times that of the Madison community,” he lamented. “Thirty-one percent of African
Americans in Madison are unemployed. Thirty-seven percent of African Americans here live in poverty, compared to 11 percent as a whole.”
     These numbers are unacceptable to Lynk and, together with his team; he hopes to create more hands-on and realistic career services for the
populations that are struggling in Madison. Focusing on sector work, Lynk is looking to create lasting change in the way that Madison’s for-profit community
hires and develops their employees, while also inspiring members to shift their focus to their economic future.

by Laura Salinger

     Sterling Lynk comes off as a natural born leader and his professional and personal life backs up that claim. A former
entrepreneur who once owned a retirement planning firm in Waukesha and former candidate for the Wisconsin State
Assembly (98th District), Lynk has traveled many roads to end up where he is today — department manager of workforce
and economic development services for the Urban League of Greater Madison.
     “I’ve done it all — from managing a movie theater to catching the entrepreneurial bug,” Lynk said, asserting that
wherever he ended up working, he usually ended up in managerial or leadership role.
     While attending college, Lynk served as division manager for T.A.S. Communications, Inc. in Madison where he was
responsible for quality control and human resource policies. There, he was credited with designing and revitalizing the
company’s client outreach and referral network growth program. In 2004, then armed with a UW-Madison bachelor’s
degree in Philosophy and Political Science (with emphasis on Ethics and Leadership), Lynk opened his own retirement-
planning firm. He did so with absolutely no formal business training under his belt. In the two years that they owned and
operated Lynk Financial, Lynk and his wife served over 450 households and businesses in southeastern Wisconsin. But
Lynk started wondering whether “business owner” was the right role for him.
Sterling Lynk
Laura Salinger is a
freelance writer based
in Madison, Wis.