Filmanowicz, Penebaker to lead local DNC host committee

Learn more about:

Raquel Filmanowicz and Paula Penebaker, two high-profile Milwaukee leaders, will lead the local host committee for the 2020 Democratic National Convention. 

Filmanowicz, director of U.S. community giving for BMO Harris Bank, was named chief executive officer. She will take a leave of absence from her position at BMO Harris to oversee the committee’s fundraising operations, volunteer recruitment efforts and venue organization plans.

Paula Penebaker, former chief executive officer of YWCA Southeast Wisconsin, will serve as chief operating officer. She will be responsible for administering operations of the committee and managing its staff. 

- Advertisement -

Both appointments were made by the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee’s board of directors. They will begin their new roles next week. 

Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee announced the appointments on Friday, three weeks after president Liz Gilbert and chief of staff Adam Alonso were ousted amid concerns over workplace culture and mismanagement.

The committee has been led in the interim by longtime political operative Teresa Vilmain, who will now serve as a senior advisor to the host committee.

- Advertisement -

“The new leadership team of the Host Committee brings fresh perspective and strong Wisconsin roots to our planning efforts and will help ensure that the 2020 Democratic National Convention is an inspiring experience, not only for the people of Milwaukee but also for the nation,” said Joe Solmonese, CEO of Democratic National Convention Committee. 

Since assuming her position at BMO Harris in 2012, Filmanowicz has developed several community partnerships in health, education, youth development and the arts. She previously served as health operations administrator/deputy chief of staff at the City of Milwaukee Health Department in the Mayor Tom Barrett Administration. Filmanowicz also serves as board chair of Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee.

 “The convention is a terrific opportunity for Milwaukee and our region to showcase our diversity, our inclusiveness, and all of our many strengths to 50,000 global visitors,” Filmanowicz said. I can’t wait to get to work with the incredible Host Committee staff, who every day perform at the highest level, to secure the resources, recruit the volunteers, arrange the local venues, and partner with local vendors to make this convention the best in history.”

- Advertisement -

Penebaker retired at the end of 2019 after 20 years with YWCA Southeast Wisconsin and 15 years as CEO. During her tenure, the organization extended its service area beyond metro Milwaukee into the broader southeastern Wisconsin region. Penebaker moved to Milwaukee in the early 1990s after working for The Procter & Gamble Company in Cincinnati for 13 years. She worked in human resources at First Wisconsin Bank before joining YWCA in 1999. She currently serves on the Board for the Milwaukee World Festival, Inc.

Penebaker was recognized as the BizTimes Woman Executive of the Year in 2016.

“I am excited to join the leadership team of this terrific group and continue these important efforts in the months to come. This whole project is about people—as we look to showcase Milwaukee to the world this summer, it will be the hardworking and hospitable people of Milwaukee, and the outstanding members of the Host Committee team, who will make this convention a success for the tens of thousands of visitors we will welcome,” Penebaker said. “It is with great enthusiasm that I join what promises to be a monumental moment in Milwaukee’s history.”

Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee also announced that Shirley Ellis and Phillip Walzak will serve as senior advisors with Vilmain. All three will provide counsel to the committee and oversee special projects.

Sign up for the BizTimes email newsletter

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

What's New


Sponsored Content

Stay up-to-date with our free email newsletter

Keep up with the issues, companies and people that matter most to business in the Milwaukee metro area.

By subscribing you agree to our privacy policy.

No, thank you.
BizTimes Milwaukee