The winners of the 2017 BizTimes Milwaukee Nonprofit Excellence Awards were named at the annual program on Thursday at the Italian Community Center in Milwaukee.
The program honors top area nonprofit organizations for their work in the community and also honors private individuals and businesses that support area nonprofits.
The winners, and finalists, of the 2017 Nonprofit Excellence Awards were:
Nonprofit Collaboration of the Year
Winner – Next Door
Finalists – SaintA, Walter Schroeder Aquatic Center/St. Augustine Preparatory Academy
Nonprofit Executive of the Year
Winner – Keith Stanley, Near West Side Partners
Finalists – Ellen Blathers, Serenity Inns Inc.; Patti Gorsky, Make-A-Wish Wisconsin
Nonprofit Organization of the Year (Large)
Winner – Milwaukee Rescue Mission
Finalists – Beyond Vision, The Threshold Inc.
Nonprofit Organization of the Year (Small)
Winner – Summit Educational Association Inc.
Finalists – Greater Milwaukee Committee, Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee
Corporate Citizen of the Year
Winner – Kohl’s
Finalists – JPMorgan Chase, West Bend Mutual Insurance
Corporate Volunteer of the Year
Winner – Nick Obrochta, Kohl’s
Finalist – Robert Kennedy, We Energies
Winner – Bartolotta Restaurants
Finalists – Anthologie Inc., SafeNet Consulting
Next Generation Leadership
Winner – Molly Schweiger, PNC Financial Services
Finalist – Benjamin Juarez, Public Policy Forum
Winner – Jim Lindenberg, Lindy Enterprises, JML Holdings, Master Z’s
The Nonprofit Excellence Awards event also featured a panel discussion about how nonprofit organizations and private businesses can work together to address the workforce challenges in the Milwaukee area and better connect companies that need employees to fill job openings with unemployed, or under-employed, individuals that need jobs.
The panelists included: Bill Krugler of Milwaukee JobsWork, JoAnne Johnson-Sabir of The Juice Kitchen and Sherman Phoenix, Austin Ramirez of Waukesha-based HUSCO International and Joaquin Altoro of Town Bank. The panel discussion was moderated by Kimberly Kane of Kane Communications Group.
“We already have 10,000 unfilled positions in Milwaukee County,” Krugler said. “But we have a huge group of people in the central city that are disconnected.”
“We can’t fill positions fast enough,” Ramirez said.
But many people struggling in poverty are unable to seek job opportunities in the area because they are so focused on just trying to survive, Johnson-Sabir said.
“There are places where thinking about opportunity is not something people are thinking about,” she said. “They are just trying to get through the next day.”
Transportation is a huge challenge in connecting people who need jobs to job opportunities in the area, Ramirez said.
“If you can’t get to the jobs, being workforce ready doesn’t do much good,” he said.
It would help to have more businesses located in and near the central city of Milwaukee, Krugler said.
“We have to bring businesses back to the city,” he said. “We have to grow jobs in the city, not just in the suburbs.”
Some businesses are reluctant to locate in the city because of concerns about crime, Krugler said. But bringing jobs into the city would help make it safer, he said.
Businesses need to get active in working to solve the Milwaukee’s areas problems to help improve the area’s economy and to help build a much-needed workforce to fill job openings, Krugler said.
“I challenge you as business owners to get active and get involved,” he said.
The Nonprofit Excellence Awards event was sponsored by Town Bank (presenting sponsor), Potawatomi Hotel & Casino (platinum sponsor) and Mueller QAAS (gold sponsor).
For more, check out the Twitter hashtag #NPawards to see tweets from the event.