By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Nov 08, 2022 at 12:01 PM

OnMilwaukee's The Future Is Female series is brought to you by Alverno College and features some of the most interesting, innovative and intelligent women in the city.

In this latest segment, Laura Emir shares numerous personal and professional insights. Through her work as a VP of a large organization and as a wife and mother of two, she radiates her values both at work and at home.  

Her best quote, in my opinion? Oof, hard to choose, but this one is really powerful:

"I was lucky to be mentored throughout my career by a list of amazing women who taught me that leadership doesn’t look one particular way and showed ways to lead and challenge the status quo," says Emir.

Here are five more questions for Laura Emir.

OnMilwaukee: What do you do professionally and how does this connect with who you are personally?

Laura Emir: I am the Vice President of Development for an incredible, national organization called Public Allies.  Our mission is to create a just and equitable society and the diverse leadership to sustain it. We are a national movement committed to advancing social justice and equity by engaging and activating the leadership capacities of all people.

Public Allies believe that communities already have the leadership they need to create lasting social change and we seek to find and cultivate those leaders and connect them to the issues and causes that ignite their passion.  Milwaukee is lucky to count multiple generations of leaders in high profile positions - far too many to list here.    

Raised in a Jewish family, I deeply internalized the lessons of the Holocaust which helped me grow up deeply committed to social and racial justice.  I was also raised with an incredible sense of community by parents who were constant community volunteers.  I am incredibly lucky to have a job that aligns so closely with who I am personally. Both in inspiring individuals and organizations to give generously in support of their passions, but also in being able to support the proximate leaders this community needs.  

If you had a magic wand, what is one thing you would instantly change about Milwaukee?

Milwaukee is an incredible place, but our region is also rightfully infamous for being the most segregated in the country.  When the former CEO of the YWCA, Paula Penebaker received the Sacagawea Award from Professional Dimensions in 2018 I remember her saying that Milwaukee is a wonderful place, but she wished that ALL of its residents had access to the things that make it wonderful.  I could not agree with her more and the absolute first thing I would change related to this is the infant and maternal mortality rate.  

How do you fight the patriarchy in your own way?

First it is by raising a daughter, but especially a son who are both feminists and make me proud every single day.  They also teach me new ways to challenge the status quo.

I was also lucky to be mentored throughout my career by a list of amazing women who taught me that leadership doesn’t look one particular way and showed ways to lead and challenge the status quo. 

They also helped me to trust my own instincts and be comfortable in my own skin. I attempt to model this by being very intentional to pay this forward in supporting other women in their leadership.  The best thing any of us can do to fight the patriarchy is by having more strong, badass women and femmes in positions of power.  

Finally, working at Public Allies in support of this incredible pipeline of leaders gives me the opportunity to fight the patriarchy every single day. The burden of challenging the status quo shouldn’t always fall on women.  To quote my brilliant colleague and our CEO Jenise Terrell, “If the world is good for the most marginalized it will be good for all of us.  It’s not just more diversity - it’s who leads and how they lead that makes the difference.”   If I am not pulling my weight, my colleagues and our Allies will hold me accountable and I love them for that.  

If you made a soundtrack for your life, what would a few of the songs be?

I love music and have VERY eclectic taste.  My favorites change all the time, but some of my constants would have to be:

  • This is the Day - The The
  • Closer to Fine - The Indigo Girls
  • But Not Tonight - Depeche Mode
  • Thank You - Dido
  • The Story - Brandi Carlile
  • Tirtil by the Turkish band Ayna

There would also have to be some old school rap and '90s hip hop, songs by U2, The Killers and Gorillaz for my son and PInk, Lady Gaga and the Hamilton Soundtrack for my daughter.

What is your secret (or not-so-secret) superpower?

I love to cook and entertain.  Things should always look inviting when people arrive and I want to be able to relax and enjoy my company.  My secret superpower is having the ability to know exactly what needs to be started when so that by the time everyone arrives things feel utterly welcoming and I can enjoy their company.  

Coincidentally, this particular superpower has served me well through a career in fundraising and non-profit management.    

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.