Mandela Barnes is a former member the Wisconsin State Legislature serving on the Assembly Committees on Corrections, Education, Jobs & the Economy, and Small Business Development. He also served as the chairman of the Legislature's Black and Latino Caucus. A lifelong Milwaukee resident, he graduated from John Marshall High School and went on to Alabama A&M University, completing his studies in mass communications and sociology in 2008.
After returning to Milwaukee, Mandela became the Lead Organizer and Director for Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH), a coalition of faith-based groups advocating for social justice in the greater-Milwaukee community. He is currently the Deputy Director of Strategic Engagement for State Innovation Exchange, a national progressive public policy organization.
Mandela has served nationally as a leader for education policy, gun violence prevention, and economic issues. He has also had the honor to serve on a number of international delegations to the Middle East and Southeast Asia. At home, he is active in a number of organizations serving the greater Milwaukee Area including: Newaukee (Advisory Board), Social X (Advisory Board), Democratic Party of Milwaukee County (past Vice Chair), Citizen Action of Wisconsin (Board Member), New Leaders Council (Advisory Board), Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (Community Advisory Board), NAACP, and the Milwaukee Urban League Young Professionals.