Continuing a longstanding tradition of recognizing the commitment, talent, passion and vision of those working to strengthen the community, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation has honored four local leaders with 2020 Greater Together Awards.
Ricardo Diaz received the 2020 William C. Frye Award for his deep commitment to the Latinx community, particularly through more than 20 years of work at the United Community Center. The award honors exceptional civic contributions to create positive change across our region.
Diaz retired in May 2020 as executive director of UCC and is credited for helping the multifaceted social service agency broaden its mission, expand its footprint on the South Side of Milwaukee and grow its reputation, including through its early learning academy and charter schools.
“Our problems are solvable,” Diaz said. “It’s a question of putting the right people in the right place to do it.”
Read Ricardo Diaz’s full story.
Darryl Johnson received the 2020 Frank Kirkpatrick Award for his work in the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods. The award honors those who have made significant physical improvements to the community, with special emphasis on economic investment in neighborhoods of greatest need.
As executive director of Riverworks Development Corporation, Johnson has worked to strengthen relationships among residents and neighborhood businesses as well as bring in millions of dollars of investment to improve housing, attract new businesses and create jobs in the area.
“My success and the success of the organization is really built on alliances and partnerships and getting people to come together to address those important issues that are negatively impacting our communities,” Johnson said.
Read Darryl Johnson’s full story.
Christine Neumann-Ortiz received the 2020 Doug Jansson Leadership Award, which is named for the foundation’s former CEO and recognizes nonprofit leaders – either volunteer or staff – particularly those who embrace collaboration, diversity, equity and show integrity in their work.
As the founder and executive director of Voces de la Frontera, Neumann-Ortiz focuses on expanding civil rights and labor rights for low-wage and immigrant families. Recognized as Wisconsin’s leading voice on immigration reform, Voces’ efforts include worker training, advocacy and grassroots organizing.
“We bring hope to the community,” Neumann-Ortiz said. “That’s what always is needed. It’s a privilege to be able to do the work that we do.”
Read Christine Neumann-Ortiz’s full story.
Dr. Jeanette Mitchell received the 2020 President’s Leadership in Racial Equity and Social Justice Award in recognition of her longstanding work to connect and develop leaders of color.
Mitchell’s career has spanned philanthropic, corporate, nonprofit and education sectors, and she has established or partnered to create some of the most prominent leadership development programs in the region, including the African American Leadership Program and the Latino Nonprofit Leadership Program. She was instrumental in the creation of the African American Leadership Alliance Milwaukee and is currently chief creative officer of Leadership By Dr. Jeanette, a consulting firm.
“In order to grow as a leader, you must be able to have a mindset of learning and service,” Mitchell said. “It is not for your own benefit; it is for the larger system. If you look at yourself as a servant leader, then you can be more successful.”
Read Dr. Jeanette Mitchell’s full story.
“How do you say ‘thank you’ to those whose life’s work has forever changed the landscape of our community for the better? We offer our Greater Together Awards as a measure of gratitude and as an acknowledgement that the remarkable efforts of each of our honorees ripple out and improve well-being throughout our region as a whole,” foundation president and CEO Ellen Gilligan said.
About the Greater Milwaukee Foundation
The Greater Milwaukee Foundation is Wisconsin’s largest community foundation and was among the first established in the world. For more than a century, the foundation has inspired philanthropy by connecting generous people to community needs that align with their interests. The foundation was founded on the premise that generosity can unlock an individual’s potential and strengthen the community as a whole for everyone who lives here. We work in partnership with those who are committed to ensuring greater Milwaukee is a vibrant, economically thriving region that comprises welcoming and inclusive communities providing opportunity, prosperity and a high quality of life for all.