Johns Hopkins APL’s Charles Madison Empowers Leaders and Staff With Focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Charles Madison was in fourth grade in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, in 1970 when he and his Black classmates were first allowed to attend school with white students.

The U.S. Supreme Court may have ruled in 1954 that it was unconstitutional to segregate children in public schools by race, but many in Louisiana worked hard for years to resist integration, with impacts of inequity that remain today. In the 1970s, Madison and his five older siblings watched the removal of whites only signs across Ascension Parish as students in their community were gradually allowed to attend schools that were traditionally white.

Today, Madison is managing executive of the Asymmetric Operations Sector (AOS) at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), helping to lead more than 1,500 AOS engineers and scientists working to ensure the national security of the United States. Across his four-decade climb from student to senior executive, he was lifted by his parents and mentors who saw his talent and gave him opportunities. He is now actively paying it forward to fellow professionals at all levels, pioneering successful programs to develop leadership skills and teams, mentoring and advising hundreds of staff members and asking colleagues to live up to shared values of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).