LaToya Dennis

News Reporter

LaToya Dennis joined WUWM in October 2006 as a reporter / producer. LaToya began her career in public radio as a part-time reporter for WKAR AM/FM in East Lansing, Michigan. She worked as general assignment reporter for WKAR for one and a half years while working toward a master's degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. While at WKAR, she covered General Motors plant closings, city and state government, and education among other critical subjects.

Before coming to public radio, LaToya interned at the CBS affiliate in Lansing, Michigan. She also took part in NPR's 2005 Next Generation Radio Project in Kansas City, Missouri as well as NPR's summer 2006 Next Generation Radio Project in Indianapolis, Indiana.

LaToya holds both a Bachelor's degree and a Masters degree in journalism from Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan. Dennis is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.

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State of Business

Dec 13, 2011

From the beginning, Gov. Scott Walker said once he took office his focus would be on creating jobs. During the 2010 campaign, he vowed to create 250,000 private sector positions during his first term. To help, he converted the commerce department into a public-private entity called the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and instructed it to focus exclusively on fostering business growth, rather than also regulating the private sector. Walker also instituted a number of tax breaks for companies that create jobs here. In this installment of Project Milwaukee: State of Upheaval, WUWM’s LaToya Dennis explores the impact the changes are having on business growth. Things are bustling at Cree Ruud Lighting in Sturtevant. Until earlier this year, it had been just Ruud - a firm making commercial and energy efficient lighting. Then, Cree, a company based in North Carolina, specializing in LED lighting bought the Wisconsin operation for $525 million. Construction crews have since broken ground for a gigantic addition.

We now continue our series, Project Milwaukee – Southern Connections. All week, we're exploring the corridor extending from Milwaukee to Chicago. Economic development experts say regions will fare best in the new global economy. A key ingredient to a successful region is efficient transportation, and more people than ever before are traveling in the corridor between Milwaukee and Chicago. WUWM's LaToya Dennis explores the options that exist today and what the future seems to demand.

A Dane County Circuit Judge ordered all remaining demonstrators to leave the state Capitol late Thursday. There were about 100 there at the time. Judge John Albert says the building should return to normal business hours. For more than two weeks, the Capitol has been filled the protesters around the clock, most demanding that Governor Walker or the Legislature drop his plan to rescind most collective bargaining rights for public workers. WUWM’s LaToya Dennis is here in the studio with me this morning, with the latest developments. To recap the situation, Capitol police asked protesters to vacate the Capitol late Sunday, so the building could be cleaned. Most did leave, but officers allowed the rest to remain, rather than risk confrontation. Then, the DOA, the Department of Administration began limiting access to the building in order to minimize disruption and return a sense of normalcy. But unintended consequences resulted.

The Joint Finance Committee late last night approved legislation that would strip the public sector of most of its collective bargaining rights. All 12 Republicans on the committee voted in favor of the bill, while the four Democrats opposed the controversial legislation that has drawn thousands to the state Capitol this week. WUWM’s LaToya Dennis joins us in the studio with the latest developments.

Today, we continue our Project Milwaukee Series: What’s On Our Plate? We’re exploring the impact the food industry has on the local economy. As we reported yesterday, more than 14,000 people in the greater Milwaukee area work for food and beverage manufacturers. But the number grows by thousands, when you include the workforce involved in building machinery for the food industry and moving its products, as well as making them more appealing. WUWM’s LaToya Dennis visited a few local employers that enhance Wisconsin’s food industry. When most people go to the grocery store, they probably don’t give much thought to all the work that goes into making the items on the shelves. I mean really, when was the last time you thought about what went into making your strawberry yogurt the perfect color? Well that’s what Dina Dicks does every day. She works for CHR Hanson in West Allis. The company makes coloring and other food additives. Dina and I met in one of the company lab.

It’s often been said that it takes a village to raise a child. While the old African proverb may be a bit cliché, some Milwaukee area businesses have taken it to heart. In the final installment of our Project Milwaukee series about educating Milwaukee’s children, WUWM’s LaToya Dennis reports on how companies are teaming up with Milwaukee Public Schools to boost student success. It’s just after lunch at Hartford University School on the campus of UW-Milwaukee. The class I’m visiting is Project Lead the Way.

Not too long ago, Milwaukee was thought of as a beer town. After all, the city was home to four large breweries, and they used plenty of water. So did other industries that took root here, such as tanneries. Milwaukee was perfect, sitting in around one-fifth of the world’s fresh water supply. All the related companies that developed are now prompting Milwaukee to forge ahead with a plan to become a global water hub. In this installment of our Project Milwaukee series, The Currency of Water, WUWM’s LaToya Dennis introduces us to some of the players. It’s a little after four on a weekday afternoon and second shifters at Badger Meter are busy.

It’s been said that Sunday is the most segregated day of the week. And there’s research to back up the notion. For whatever reasons, different ethnicities tend to not worship together, no matter the religion. As part of our Project Milwaukee series on race relations, WUWM’s LaToya Dennis visits a local church where diversity is actually part of the appeal.

Milwaukee has the dubious reputation of being one of the most segregated cities in the United States. As part of our Project Milwaukee series on race relations, we sat down with a group of four inner city teens to explore the issue. They spoke about race and the role it plays in their lives with WUWM’s LaToya Dennis. Speaking openly about race doesn’t seem to be a problem for these four teens from different racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Last hour, as part of our Project Milwaukee series on race relations, we presented the views of local teenagers who belong to minority groups. Now we visit Cudahy High School to speak with white students. As WUWM’s LaToya Dennis discovered, the conversations produced similar themes. I began the conversation with students at Cudahy High School by asking one question. Sophomore Ben Rejniak was first.

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