Former Verlo Mattress president to lead Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee

Succeeds Vincent Lyles

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:21 pm

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee has named Kathy Thornton-Bias, former president and chief operating officer of Verlo Mattress, as the organization’s next president and chief executive officer.

Thornton-Bias succeeds Vincent Lyles, who stepped down in October 2018 after leading the organization for seven years. She begins in her new position March 1.

Boys & Girls Clubs conducted a national search following Lyles’ resignation.

“We were very fortunate to have had a tough choice to make among our candidates, but we knew (Thornton-Bias) was the right choice to lead us,” said Scott Wrobbel, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee board chair and managing partner at Deloitte. “In all of our conversations, her past experiences were never about her, they were all about the organization she worked for and its people. She will very quickly be seen as a respected voice for our people and the kids in the city of Milwaukee.”

She has been president and chief operating officer of Milwaukee-based Verlo Matress since 2016.

In her new role, Thornton-Bias will oversee the organization’s 1,100 full-and part-time employees, 2,500 volunteers and 44 locations. In total, BGCGM serves more than 37,000 children and teens annually, making it the largest youth-serving agency in the city.

Thornton-Bias began her career at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, where she became the first African American to hold the title of vice president for divisional merchandise. She went on to become president of the retail division for New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and later Bang & Olufsen’s president of North America.

Thornton-Bias will be the 15th leader of the 132-year-old Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee and the second woman to lead the organization since its founding in 1887 by Annabell Cook Whitcomb, the first executive director.

“Like Annabell Whitcomb, I am driven by faith and purpose, and I see promise in the vision she set forth with when she founded the organization,” Thornton-Bias said. “I plan to focus on four important trajectories as I work toward my vision of the future: greater reach, greater relevance, great impact, and greater unity.”

Thornton-Bias is a current board member of the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Ron Brown Scholars Program and the University of Virginia. She is also a member of the Junior League and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

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