MLK Economic Development Corp. names new executive director

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:14 pm

The Martin Luther King Economic Development Corp. has named Nicole Robbins as its new executive director.

Robbins succeeds Leo Ries, who has served as interim executive director since January 2016, following the passing of the organization’s longtime leader Welford Sanders.

“Nicole Robbins brings extensive expertise, a passion for community development, and a strong network of partners to her new role as the executive director of the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation,” said Ben Johnson, chair of the MLKEDC board of directors. “The board of directors is pleased to have someone of her caliber to take the organization into the future.”

MLKEDC is a neighborhood-based nonprofit development organization that works to improve conditions in Milwaukee’s Harambee neighborhood. MLKEDC has developed and currently owns and manages a portfolio of 193 affordable housing units, along with 63,800 square feet of retail and office space.

Robbins joined the organization in September 2018 as its director of housing and real estate development. In that role, she launched the new MLK Homes initiative, through which the organization purchases and rehabilitates homes and resells them to owner-occupants in the Harambee neighborhood.

“Economic expansion along Martin Luther King Drive is happening quickly, and how we manage this change is critical to the growth and well-being of our community,” Robbins said. “You will see the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corp. take a multidisciplinary approach which seeds equity and ownership, as well as builds social and cultural capital. I’m excited to bring my talents to bear during this important time and to continue the successful legacy of the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corp.”

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 2006, Robbins worked as a corporate and regulatory attorney for Walgreen’s Corp. in Chicago. She returned to Milwaukee to start her own private law practice, Robbins Law Group, LLC, in 2011. As managing attorney, Robbins provided legal counsel to small businesses, nonprofits and Fortune 40 companies in the areas of real estate, corporate, regulatory, environmental, municipal and litigation matters.

Robbins is a 2015 graduate of the Associates in Commercial Real Estate (ACRE) program for emerging minority developers. She also holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Marquette University and a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School.

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