Milwaukee-based nonprofit organization Safe & Sound Inc.has named Joe’Mar Hooper as its next executive director.
Hooper succeeds Katie Sanders, who left the organization in fall 2019 to become chief planning officer of the Milwaukee Public Museum.
He most recently was Wisconsin market leader for CommonBond Communities, a St. Paul-based organization that provides affordable housing and supportive services.
A Milwaukee native, Hooper previously worked for Milwaukee Public Schools, where he created and directed the Department of Business, Community, and Family Partnerships. Prior to that, he was budget manager for the Milwaukee Department of City Development and later deputy city treasurer, legislative fiscal manager and health operations administrator for the city. He also worked as a budget analyst and economic development specialist with the state of Wisconsin.
Hooper grew up in Milwaukee's Sherman Park neighborhood and went on to attend the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he received his bachelor’s degree in secondary education and master’s degree in public administration.
“Joe’Mar is the right leader for Safe & Sound,” said John Kordsmeier, Safe & Sound board chair. “Having grown up in Milwaukee and having worked in both public and nonprofit sectors, he understands the power of supporting residents and youth in building safe and empowered neighborhoods.”
Safe & Sound works to bridge the gap between law enforcement and local residents to improve public safety in Milwaukee neighborhoods. Hooper said he first learned about Safe & Sound’s mission while working with MPS.
He will begin in the position on March 9.
Moving forward, Kordsmeier said, the organization will focus on bolstering its fundraising efforts and boosting its name recognition in the community.
Hooper said he also plans to grow its partnerships with other organizations to bring its model to more neighborhoods.
“We’ve been a city that’s been really siloed, both on the nonprofit side and government side, and, as we can see from our disparities, it hasn’t done us any good,” Hooper said. “I’ve always felt that we're going to do better together. And a rising tide does indeed lift all boats.”
Hooper said he plans to make the case to the business community that an investment in the organization is an investment in the region’s future workforce.
“We get results as an organization - measurable, direct results within the communities that we service throughout Milwaukee,” he said. “The people that we serve, these youth that we serve are your future workforce. That investment that you make now will pay off tenfold down the line when these folks come into your organization.”
Safer communities also encourage greater economic development, Hooper said.
“If (businesses) invest in us, and understand we’re making safer communities and playing a vital role, with the police department and our partners, in crime prevention and making areas safer, it’s definitely going to create greater opportunity for economic and community development for their business to be able to relocate and expand in the central city and north and south sides of Milwaukee," he said.