Leadership Lens: Eve Hall on Milwaukee’s diversity, innovative thinking and making the best decision for the whole

Editor’s note: Interested in more Leadership Lens? Marquette president Michael Lovell and BizTimes managing editor Arthur Thomas will be joined by Omar Shaikh, partner in Carnevor and 3rd Street Market Hall and an active member of the business community, for a live podcast recording at BizExpo on Monday, May 1. 

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SpotifyEve Hall, president and CEO of the Greater Milwaukee Urban League, joins BizTimes managing editor Arthur Thomas and Marquette University president Michael Lovell on Leadership Lens to discuss GMUL’s work, progress on diversity in Milwaukee, keys to developing innovative thinking, making decisions that are best for the whole organization and much more.

Keys to innovative thinking

Throughout her career, Hall has repeatedly developed new and innovative programs. On the podcast, she discussed what goes into her thinking in developing initiatives or programs.

“I tend to look at what’s missing,” she said. “We have this puzzle but there’s still some pieces missing and what can we do.”

Hall pointed to the Greater Milwaukee Urban League’s decision to open a second location at 34th and Silver Spring. It is something the organization has been thinking about for a long time and the opportunity came up, but now that it’s open, the work started in earnest.

“We have to now go to another level of thinking about how we’re going to permeate the community. So everyone is coming up with different ways of how we’re going to attract more people into the building but also how we’re going to go out.”

Milwaukee’s biggest challenges

Hall also discussed some of the progress Milwaukee has made in improving its diversity. Moving forward, she said one of the biggest challenges is home ownership.

“If we think about how people create assets, build wealth over time, it’s always started with the purchase of a home,” she said.

But Hall also said there’s continued need to improve the relationship between the community and the police department.

“I think we’re making some strides, but I still hear far too many parents who especially want to get their sons out of this city because there’s this concern about often being singled out,” Hall said. “Quite frankly, you have parents who are quite concerned about the future of this city and their sons being able to be successful in this city.”

“That’s one of those elephants in the room we don’t always like to speak about,” Hall added. “But unfortunately, and this is my home, there is still the racism or the stereotypes that continue to get in our way. So continuous conversations like this, opportunities to bring people together to really address it and be intentional will be critical, because while we’re doing these great things in this city, we all know that the gap is huge between the haves and the have nots and at some point the dam will break and are we really understanding that?”

Making hard decisions

Dr. Eve Hall

When it comes to making tough choices as a leader, Hall said she tries to look at the bigger picture.

“I always have to look, when I have to make decisions that are hard decisions, what’s going to be best for the whole,” Hall said. “So if I’m looking at the organization and we all know we have those hard places that we have to come to with policy, with individuals, just those hard places we hate, quite frankly, at the end of the day, we have to look at ‘Ok, but what’s going to be the good for the overall organization, beyond me, beyond a policy beyond an individual,’ to understand that we’re working for something greater than ourselves, that’s what keeps me grounded in those hard places when those decisions have to be made and quite frankly I don’t sleep for several nights.”

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.