Belinda Pittman-McGee was born to the Rogers Family, the fifth of six children in Monticello Arkansas. At age 12, following the death of her beloved grandfather, Eugene Cross, she moved to Pontiac, Michigan to live with her sister. His advice to her has been an anchor in her life: “If you believe that you can climb Mount Everest, you can. If you get stuck, back up and rethink, but never give up.”
She stopped her formal schooling in 9th grade, going back and forth between Pontiac and Milwaukee, where her parents had moved in 1969. She later received her GED. In 1971, at age 18, she married and had three children—Felicia, Gaynell and Kendricke. She left this abusive marriage at age 31, ending up in a homeless shelter with her children.
Since then, to support herself and the children, she has worked as a home manager and took care of the children, a cleaning business, worked in a program to curb truancy in Milwaukee Public Schools, was a Community Outreach Specialist at UWM-Extension, facilitated women support groups at the Benedict Center and taught independent living skills to young adults ageing out of foster care. In her darkest times, like so many of the women she now works to empower, she was on public assistance.
In 1994, she and a friend started what is now Nia Imani Family, Inc. They witnessed the profound need to serve women, especially African American, who did not know how to break the generational cycles of addiction, poverty, trauma, violence, abuse, homelessness, and learned helplessness. To make a truly lasting difference for women and their children, Mrs. Pittman-McGee knew that a program must offer long-term stable and safe housing, in a family-like structure where the women could experience what a stable family felt like and watch it work, was a safe place to address the trauma of instability, abuse and violence in their past so that healing could begin and that they could then begin to focus more on developing and expanding their basic life competencies, bonding and parenting their children and connecting to a broader community.
In 2000, she married Corthal McGee.
Over the years, Mrs. Pittman-McGee and her projects have been featured in Milwaukee Magazine, The Milwaukee Times, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, UWM Reports, WMVP, The Milwaukee Catholic Herald, The Milwaukee Community Journal, Neighborhood News Services, Shepard Express and many others.
She has been a speaker at the 4th Street Forum in January 2008 on “The Violence of Poverty”, at many Milwaukee Public Schools, the State of Wisconsin Department of Corrections, Alverno College, Mount Mary University, the Wisconsin Association for Adult and Continuing Education, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee School of Nursing, and many others.
In 2010, Mrs. Pittman-McGee was selected as a recipient of The Milwaukee Times' 25th Black Excellence Awards.
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