Artists Working in Education, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides youth in the Milwaukee area with arts enrichment programs, has named LaShawndra Vernon as its executive director.
Vernon previously was a program director and portfolio manager at United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County.
Vernon replaces former executive director Beth Haskovec, who took a position with LISC Milwaukee earlier this year.
“In our 20th year, we’re filled with gratitude for what we’ve been able to accomplish and excited for what’s next,” said Adam Carr, board president. “As we prepare for our next 20, our board is thrilled to welcome LaShawndra as our executive director. Through her vision, leadership and talent, we know AWE will continue to grow and deepen our impact in neighborhoods throughout Milwaukee.”
Vernon’s background is in health research and community engagement. She is founder and chief executive officer of Milwaukee-based system design firm Absolute Pryme, which works to build collaborative communities. Vernon is also the founding chair of the Human Trafficking Task Force of Greater Milwaukee.
“As a long-time member of the creative community in Milwaukee, it is an honor and privilege to join AWE in enriching the quality of life for children and families,” Vernon said. “Our community is faced with so many challenges, but in the midst of our struggles, we will continue to cultivate and create joy. If we can feed the joy in neighborhoods we can accomplish anything.”
AWE provides arts education programs, including sponsoring artists-in-residence as well as a Truck Studio drop-in summer enrichment program, to thousands of area youth in schools and community centers, as well as parks, playgrounds, libraries and community events. It has recently received gifts from the Zilber Family Foundation, Northwestern Mutual Foundation and Potawatomi Hotel & Casino’s signature charity program Heart of Canal Street.