Where’s “Up?” -- Local Leaders Make 2017 Predictions for Milwaukee Philanthropy

image of panelists on stage during the NPD 2017 Education SessionContributed by AFP SEWI
Milwaukee Business Journal
December 9, 2016 issue

On November 8, 500 luncheon attendees celebrated National Philanthropy Day and honored the past leadership of several Milwaukee philanthropists.  But the event also looked forward:  in a panel discussion convened by the AFP and moderated by Business Journal publisher Kira Lafond, area corporate and nonprofit leaders shared their thoughts on “what’s next” for Milwaukee philanthropy…

Matt Walker, Thrivent Financial regional partner and a founder of Echelon MKE, said he was passionate about the growing community engagement among Milwaukee Millennials, envisioning “thousands of young people getting in line to donate time, talent and treasure, to impact the city in a great way.”

Patrick Rath, SVP of Aurora Health Care Foundation, reported that Aurora is now encouraging its nearly 200 SVPs state-wide to serve on at least one nonprofit board and is studying other policies to motivate community involvement by employees and caregivers.

Thomas Rosenthal, said the Northwestern Mutual Foundation’s education grants portfolio he oversees would be studying new opportunities to expand its support of secondary education.

William Martin, outgoing president of the Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, said AFP would be building new relationships to draw the region’s business community deeper into philanthropy.

Jeannie Fenceroy, Senior Program Manager at Greater Milwaukee Foundation, reported that other grantmakers have lauded GMF for its recent activity around racial equity and inclusion, and vowed that GMF would ramp up its efforts in 2017.

Don Layden is also targeting access and inclusion, hoping to “bring more people onto the three nonprofit board I chair that don’t look like the people serving there today.”  Layden is Operating Partner at Baird Capital and a partner at Quarles & Brady, and serves on the boards of several nonprofits.

Julia Taylor, president of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, said her organization would continue collaboration with the city, the Urban League, and Greater Milwaukee Foundation on “Milwaukee United,” a 10-year action agenda for reducing the “very bright line of disparity between downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.”

Gil Cubia said Johnson Controls will deepen funding relationships in its three adopted neighborhoods near its HQ, and will build “pathways to employment” at Johnson Controls by supporting area technology and engineering education.  Cubia is Director of Global Community Involvement and Engagement.

Dean Rennicke, VP of Marketing at KAPCO Inc., capped the session, saying that his company and Milwaukee as a whole must “galvanize human capital” and involve more local talent in “trying to make our world better.”

Clearly, philanthropy is alive and well in Milwaukee – and 2017 will show it.  How will you make a difference?

AFP’s monthly column in the Milwaukee Business Journal is edited by Doug Diefenbach, principal of Diefenbach Communications Strategies, a full-service consultancy specializing in philanthropic communications. Please contribute ideas for future articles here.