Kai Yael Gardner Mishlove is the new executive director of Jewish Social Services of Madison. She is the previous JCRC Director at the Milwaukee Jewish Federation where she was instrumental in starting the AAPI Jewish Alliance to counter antisemitism and anti Asian hate. She is a firm believer in the African Proverb: “It Takes a Village” and she acts on her Black and Jewish identity and faith by making sure that her life and work in the community is a meditation on G-d and reflects the Jewish concepts of Tzedakah, Chesed, and Tzedek.
Kai has a BA in Political Science from Boston University with graduate studies in Public Health from the University of Illinois. She is active in many communities and has served on the boards of Hillel Milwaukee, JCRC Milwaukee, the Friendship Circle WI, NCJW Milwaukee, SE Asian Literacy Project, Wisconsin African Community Association, Milwaukee Turners, Rotary Club, Hands and Voices and various disability rights groups. She is a member of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York Collective Cohort 4, alumnus of the Selah JOC Cohort 15 and the Jewish Women of Color Resilience Circle 2. Kai has a long history of advocating for vulnerable communities and expertise in developing programs that encourage and promote cross community collaboration, health and wellness. Kai was awarded the Building Bridges award by NCJW Milwaukee and recognized as one of 12 Milwaukee Sheros in 2020 by the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. Kai was also featured as one of 100 Milwaukeeans interviewed regarding democracy and citizenship in the This Is Milwaukee Project. Recently Kai was awarded the 2021 Woman of Faith award by the Salvadoran Sisters of the Divine Savior in recognition of her Tables Across Borders Project, restaurant and community gathering pop ups highlighting the cuisine and cultures of diverse local refugees and others.
Kai lives in Madison. She is a very proud stepmother and mother of four adult children and stand in “American mom” and “auntie” to several youth. Kai’s hobbies include motorcycles, bikes, cooking, gardening, music, and art. Kai feels very strongly about the importance of building global bridges between cultures and the promotion of inclusive, diverse, and healthy communities.