By Sharon McGowan, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service   Published Dec 10, 2016 at 12:36 PM

A 40-member volunteer committee of community leaders named 15 finalists for the Milwaukee Awards for Neighborhood Development Innovation (MANDIs). Finalists in five categories were announced at a festive event held at Mr. J’s Lounge, 4610 W. Fond Du Lac Ave., attended by more than 100 people.

"The MANDIs celebrate Milwaukee’s diverse neighborhoods, and the many talented, committed people working together to create a better future for our communities," said Donsia Strong Hill, executive director of LISC Milwaukee.

The MANDIs, sponsored by U.S. Bank in partnership with LISC Milwaukee, recognize individuals, organizations and projects that are improving conditions in central city neighborhoods.

The Wells Fargo People’s Choice Award will be given to the finalist that receives the most votes from the public. Voting will take place from March 27 to April 5 at the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service website.

Winners will be announced at a gala dinner on Thursday, April 6, at the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino. The event typically draws a diverse audience of more than 800 leaders from the private, philanthropic and nonprofit communities.

Below are the MANDI 2017 finalists in each category:

The Brewers Community Foundation Public Space Award recognizes a public space that helps build the community.

  • Johnsons Park Revitalization in Lindsay Heights
  • Journey House Community Garden in Clarke Square
  • Green Tree Community Garden in Havenwoods

The BMO Harris Cornerstone Award recognizes an organization for their commitment and effectiveness over time.

  • City on a Hill
  • Milwaukee Christian Center
  • Silver Spring Neighborhood Center

The Northern Trust Navigator Award recognizes an individual for leadership and collaboration.

  • Diane De La Santos, City on a Hill
  • Darryl Johnson, Riverworks Development Corp.
  • Gretchen Mead, Victory Gardens Initiative

The PNC Bank Trail Blazer Award recognizes an innovative approach to a community problem.

  • Arts@Large Fill in the Gaps Initiative in partnership with Milwaukee Public Schools
  • Layton Boulevard Home Improvement Matching Grants Program
  • Historic Wally Schmidt Tavern Redevelopment

The State Farm Building Blocks Award recognizes a real estate project that advances the community.

  • Innovations and Wellness Commons
  • Asian Public Markets Phongsavan
  • Milwaukee TechForce Training Center