The Milwaukee Parks Foundationhas named Rebecca Stoner as its executive director.
Stoner is the first to serve in the role since the foundation was established in 2019. The organization is dedicated to raising philanthropic support for and community involvement in the Milwaukee County Parks system.
Stoner has held various nonprofit leadership roles over the past decade, including those in programming, operations, fundraising and management. She most recently was director of development operations for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, where she helped lead a fundraising team responsible for raising more than $8 million in 2020.
Previously, she was director of strategic partnerships at Acts Housing in Milwaukee.
The Milwaukee Parks Foundation board has spent the past year and a half focusing on strategic planning and preparing to hire an executive director as the organization’s first employee. The board consists of 13 members, including its president Tami Garrison, who leads community affairs with MillerCoors.
“We are thrilled to have Rebecca join us as our first executive director,” Garrison said. “She’s strategic, empathetic, passionate about equity and rooted in Milwaukee. She is the best person to lead the foundation as we work to support a thriving Milwaukee County Parks system.”
The organization has a tall order – to bolster a chronically under-funded parks system. A Wisconsin Policy Forum report published three years ago found almost every form of parks infrastructure has pressing needs, with replacements needed for most parking lots, walkways, parkways and basketball courts. The backlog of repair and replacement needs across the county’s parks and cultural institutions is “seemingly insurmountable,” the report said, as the county lacks the capacity to finance them.
“Our parks are in a desperate place,” said county parks executive director Guy Smith. “By 2027, it is a very real possibility that we will have no local tax dollars to invest in our parks. The Milwaukee Parks Foundation was founded to help address this problem. I am eager to get to work alongside Rebecca. She and I need the support of the Milwaukee community to ensure a vibrant, equitable parks system for years to come.”
As she transitions into her new role, Stoner said she will spend her first few weeks visiting county parks and meeting leaders and volunteers.
“Milwaukee is my home, and the parks have been a backdrop for so much of my life here,” Stoner said. “We have a shared responsibility to ensure our parks system is equitable and vibrant and I’m so energized to be a part of this work.”