Joel Peterson, who has led United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County’s diversity development and community engagement efforts for the past three years, has been named executive director of Playworks Wisconsin.
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Playworks Wisconsin, the Milwaukee-based arm of the national nonprofit
, works with schools to improve their recess culture, promote safe play and increase students’ social and emotional learning.
Playworks Wisconsin currently delivers programming in 28 schools in Milwaukee, Waukesha and Watertown, serving more than 10,000 students daily. The organization has a goal of serving 200 schools by the end of 2020.
Peterson replaces Deborah Lukovich, who announced in April 2018 she planned to leave the organization and help with the search for her successor.
In his role, Peterson will steer the organization’s fundraising and community engagement strategies in partnership with the local advisory board.
"We are proud to welcome Joel to the team," said Billie Smith, an advisory board member. ”He brings a wealth of skills and knowledge to our organization at a very exciting time in Playworks' evolution. Demand for services is high, program quality is strong, and we are poised to scale our impact significantly in the coming year."
Peterson began his career as a school counselor for a public charter school in Milwaukee. In 2012, Peterson became the director of emerging leaders for the YMCA of Greater Milwaukee. He has been the manager of diversity development and community engagement at United Way since 2016. In that role, he helped lead Partnership MKE, a United Way and Milwaukee Jewish Federation program aimed at addressing and solving biases in the community.
“I am expressly grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from some inspiring and phenomenal leaders within and connected to the United Way during my leadership journey,” Peterson said. “As my journey continues, I look forward to serving an organization whose mission and vision align with my beliefs as we concertedly leverage the power of play to increase social emotional learning in every child.“