Solving complex problems takes grit

The Last Word

Amy Lindner

Amy Lindner took on her new role as president of United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County at the beginning of the year. Lindner, an attorney who previously practiced law at Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren S.C., came to United Way after working as executive director of Meta House, a Milwaukee-based nonprofit that provides alcohol and drug abuse treatment services designed for women. Given the complex issues United Way and other nonprofits aim to help solve, Lindner said the work of bringing about change in a community requires perseverance, grit and getting all hands on deck.

Amy Lindner
Credit: Lila Aryan Photography

“The problems we have yet to solve are big problems and they are problems that are bigger than any one agency can hope to solve, although all those agencies are making a difference. It’s really going to take system leadership to solve the stuff we’re all still grappling with.

“What we need is a lot of grit and a lot of hanging in there. We all love putting our dollars to a problem that can be solved tomorrow. That feels amazing. You write a check today and tomorrow the problem is solved. Lots of that needs to be done. But what it’s going to take over the next decade and two decades and three decades is being willing to live through setbacks. It’s being willing to try things that don’t work and to just keep trying. This stuff needs to get solved and it’s going to take a lot of us who are willing to keep working and keep hanging in there until we crack it.

“I don’t know many communities as generous as Milwaukee historically and currently is. That includes some amazing families with multigenerational generosity that is just astonishing and we’re very grateful for that, but these are all-hands-on-deck problems with all of us playing every role we can play … That’s the only way I know that transformation of our community is going to keep happening.

“Leadership isn’t titles. Leadership is action. Leadership can happen from the top of an organization, but it can also happen in any corner of this community at any time when somebody decides they’re going to step up and step in and do work that needs to be done. That’s a form of leadership.”

United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Industry: Health, education and financial stability nonprofit

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