By Press Release Submitted to Published Mar 17, 2016 at 3:36 PM

The Milwaukee Awards for Neighborhood Development Innovation (known as the MANDIs) celebrate the "good news" of successful efforts to revitalize neighborhoods and strengthen the community.

"The MANDIs are a celebration of Milwaukee’s neighborhoods and the passionate, committed people who work tirelessly to improve their communities," said Dawn Hutchison-Weiss, communications director for LISC Milwaukee

From public nominations, a volunteer selection committee named 15 finalists for the awards this year, and winners were announced Wednesday, March 16, to an audience of 850 community leaders at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino.

The event was emceed by Joyce Garbaciak, co-anchor for WISN 12 News, and welcoming remarks were made by Michael Rubinger, CEO of LISC; City of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett; presenting sponsor Suzanne Zwaska, vice president at US Bank; and Susan Hatch, Hatch Staffing Solutions and Chair of the LISC Milwaukee Advisory Board.  OnMilwaukee was a media sponsor of the event. 

The Vision Award, presented at the discretion of the LISC Local Advisory Board, was presented to Welford Sanders, executive director of the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation, posthumously. This award was accepted by Sanders’ daughter Dawn Sanders Cavilla and Ben Johnson, Chairman of the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation board of directors.

Awarded for innovation, the PNC Bank Trailblazer Award was presented by PNC Bank Vice President Eugene Manzanet. This award was given to ACTS Housing for their foreclosure reclamation work in Milwaukee. Finalists included First Stage’s historical play series, The Wisconsin Cycle and Rebuilding Together Greater Milwaukee. ACTS Housing executive director Mike Gosman accepted the award.

Awarded for a real estate project that improves the community, The State Farm Building Blocks was presented by Kelly Savage, community relations specialist for State Farm. This award was given to St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care—Bucyrus Campus. Finalists included Maskani Place and Paper Box Lofts. Dianne Beckley, COO of St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care, accepted the award.

Awarded for commitment and effectiveness over time, the BMO Harris Bank Cornerstone Award was presented by Paul Fehrenbbach, Vice President, and Community Relations. This award was given to COA Youth & Family Centers for their work in the Amani Neighborhood. Finalists included the Northside Housing Initiative and Safe & Sound. Tom Schneider, executive director of COA Youth and Family Centers, accepted the award.

Awarded to an individual(s) for leadership, the Northern Trust Navigator Award was presented by Jamie Reeve III, Sr. Vice President, Northern Trust. This award was given to Rodney Bourrage, Sr, founder and executive director of Operation Dream. Finalists included Larry and Sharon Adams, and Dick Larsen. Mr. Bourrage accepted the award.

Awarded to a public space that builds community, the Brewers Community Foundation Public Space Award was presented by J. Allen Stokes, director of Harambee Greater Neighborhood Initiative. This award was given to Milwaukee County and community partners for the revitalization of Moody Park. Finalists included Doors Open Milwaukee and Turtle Park.  John Dargle, Milwaukee County Parks director, and Sister Patricia Rogers, Dominican Women’s Center executive director, accepted the award. 

There were 2,524 voters for the Wells Fargo People’s Choice Award, an online social media campaign to select public picks for three winners across all award categories. These awards were presented by Dan Sweeny, Vice President and Community Development Officer at Wells Fargo. Winners named were Larry and Sharon Adams, Doors Open Milwaukee, and COA Youth & Family Centers in the Amani neighborhood. The awards were accepted by Larry and Sharon Adams, Walnut Way Conservation Corps; Stacy Swadish, Historic Milwaukee; and Tom Schneider, COA Youth and Families Centers.  

All winners received a trophy and $1,000 contribution. Finalists and winners are selected by a volunteer selection committee comprised of forty private, public and government volunteers.

At the event, LISC CEO Michael Rubinger announced that Donsia Strong Hill would become LISC Milwaukee’s new executive director effective in April. Donsia Strong Hill, JD, MPA, is an experienced tri-sector leader with government, civil society and private sector experience.

In opening remarks, Rubinger also announced a $25 million dollar investment into Milwaukee over the next five years. "We are excited about LISC’s pledge of a $25 million dollar investment in Milwaukee over the next five years, and look forward to leveraging these funds for the future of Milwaukee," said Dawn Hutchison-Weiss, LISC Milwaukee Communications Director. "We are equally excited about the hire of our new Executive Director Donsia Strong Hill and identifying ways that LISC can have an even deeper impact on Milwaukee’s neighborhoods."