ThriveOn Community Engagement
THRIVE ON COLLABORATION COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

If It's For the Community, It's With the Community

The ThriveOn Collaboration is built on the premise that the way to serve and support our communities is to communicate, collaborate and embrace them as vital, essential partners. That’s why in 2019, the Collaboration began its journey by engaging with individuals in the Harambee, Halyard Park and Brewers Hill neighborhoods to help clarify our vision, shape our goals, and guide our actions. And throughout our process and progress, our connection with the community has been continuous and productive.

ThriveOn Collaboration How We Connect

How we Connect

The Collaboration stays in touch with the views and values of the community through continuous dialogue and interaction with residents, organizations and other community leaders, which includes:

  • Neighborhood Resident Visioning Sessions
  • One-on-One Interviews
  • Meet & Greets
  • Community Festivals & Events
  • Neighborhood Association Meetings
  • Virtual and in-person office hours

We have also established a Community Advisory Council, which integrates community perspective and advises on the use of space and resources, including recommending grants in our communities.

NEIGHBORHOOD FOCUS

Every few weeks, we shine a light on a special aspect of one of our three neighborhoods, Halyard Park, Harambee, and Brewers Hill.

Historic Halyard Park

Halyard Park has been a great Milwaukee neighborhood and a good place to live for a very long time. Built on a foundation of perseverance and commitment established by community residents decades ago, this small enclave has done well. Halyard Park is located between Interstate 43 and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive; and, North Avenue and Walnut Street. The neighborhood was first settled in the mid-1800s by mostly German immigrants.

From the 1920s to the 1930s, African-Americans became predominant in the neighborhood. It was during this period that Ardie and Wilbur Halyard came to Milwaukee, and founded the Columbia Savings and Loan Association in 1924. The neighborhood continued to grow healthy and vibrant in commerce and culture. Unfortunately, the mid-1960s brought serious disruptions, including the building of Interstate 43 which ripped through the heart of Halyard Park and other parts of the Milwaukee Bronzeville community. But Halyard Park and its residents proved to be resilient.

In the mid-1970s, The United Realty Group, Inc., led by Beechie Brooks, purchased land from the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee with plans to build a subdivision with new ranch style houses. The Halyard’s Columbia Savings and Loan Association financed some of those first homes in the neighborhood and many of them still stand along the tree lined streets of Halyard Park.

ThriveOn  Collaboration Historic Halyard Park

One of the many reasons Halyard Park is still such a special place today is the strong attachment its people have to the neighborhood. Longtime Halyard Park resident, Ms. Lennie Mosley, talks fondly about the area. “We watch out for our neighbors. When someone goes out of town, we keep an eye on things. And when someone moves into the community, we often send over flowers or a fruit basket to welcome them.” For those who live in the neighborhood, that feeling of belonging is distinct and ever-present.

COMMUNITY INVESTMENTS

The ThriveOn Collaboration is continually investing in its vision and priorities.

The ThriveOn Small Business Loan program was established in 2021 to help build back jobs and economic participation in Milwaukee neighborhoods. The program is providing access to capital through low-interest loans, giving local small businesses the opportunity to reopen, hire or sustain or improve business operations in a variety
of ways.

So far, $780,000 in loans has been distributed to 17 small businesses, all owned by people of color. Nearly 80% of the businesses are located in the Halyard Park, Harambee and Brewers Hill neighborhoods. Recipients also receive access to ongoing technical assistance to advance businesses’ long-term success. The loans are funded through the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s impact investing program.

Other commitments to the community have included:

  • Helping to prevent resident displacement through partnership in the MKE United Anti-Displacement fund.
  • Approving approximately $100 million for joint investment in new building improvement and development, including streetscaping, exterior art and green design.
  • Providing more than $13.2 million in grants through the Foundation and Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment in support of COVID-19 relief, response, and recovery related to food, shelter, health, education, economic stabilization and more.

THRIVE ON COLLABORATION NEWSLETTERS

Contact communityengagement@greatermilwaukeefoundation.org to be added to the mailing list for the ThriveOn Collaboration newsletter.

Meet The Community Engagement Team

Darlene C. Russell, MS | Director of Community Engagement

Darlene develops community engagement strategies for the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and ThriveOn Collaboration, a partnership of the Foundation, the Medical College of Wisconsin, and Royal Capital. She leads a team focused on building strong relationships and partnering with organizations to strengthen and improve the quality of life for children and their families. In addition, Darlene collaborates with donor advisors to counsel prospective donors on investment strategies and with marketing and communications departments to develop communication collateral. She previously served as Senior Program Officer, overseeing leadership development, community development, and philanthropic projects.

Before joining the Foundation, Darlene worked in the nonprofit and education sectors for 18 years. She currently serves on the Advisory Board for Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).

Darlene holds a Bachelor’s degree in Community Leadership and Development from Alverno College and a Master’s degree in Business Administration and Management from Cardinal Stritch University. She is an honored alumna of the Cardinal Stritch African American Leadership Program and Harvard Business School’s Young American Leaders Program.

Darlene is a Milwaukee native, a published author, and an entrepreneur who has dedicated herself to a life of service. Realizing time is the most precious commodity, Darlene’s personal mission is to do more, say more, and be more. Darlene practices mindfulness and enjoys connecting with her family and friends. She strives to inspire and encourage others to make the most of their moments. 

Contact information:
drussell@greatermilwaukeefoundation.org | (414) 336-7044

Dr. Joni Williams

I am Joni S. Williams, MD, MPH, an associate professor of medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin in the Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, and Center for Advancing Population Science (CAPS). I have more than twelve years of experience in community engagement, specifically conducting community-engaged research to promote health equity and reduce health disparities among historically underserved, under-resourced, and marginalized populations. As a member of the community engagement team for the ThriveOn Collaboration, I serve as Chair of the Community Building Workgroup. In partnership and solidarity with the community, I am interested in creating service-oriented activities to organize around issues of social justice, establish an environment of social cohesion and social integration, and build relationships to promote positive well-being and quality of life. As a native of South Carolina, known for its smiling faces and beautiful places, I value people and culture and know the power harnessed within the bond of communities united for a common purpose. As I continue to learn about the strong and resilient history rooted in Milwaukee, especially in the King Drive District within the Harambee, Halyard Park, and Brewer’s Hill neighborhoods, I am invested in and committed to contributing my talents, skills, and abilities towards achieving a Milwaukee that is healthy, equitable, and thriving for all!

Contact information:
jswilliams@mcw.edu

Debra Nevels | Program Manager

Debra R. Nevels, MSHCM, currently works with the Medical College of Wisconsin as the Program Manager for Community Outreach and Engagement for Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center. Most recently she worked as Health Systems Manager for the American Cancer Society for seven years.

She is also currently adjunct faculty at Concordia University in the College of the Health Services Administration program.

Throughout her educational career, she strived to take advantage of opportunities to learn from and share knowledge with others. Debra considers herself to be a lifelong learner even though she has completed her educational pursuits. Her experience is extensively rooted in health care, but main interest is in educating others. he has worked with a variety of populations in the following areas: Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Texas.If you have any questions, feel free to contact her.

Contact information:
dnevels@mcw.edu.

Madeline (Maddy) Riordan | Community Engagement Manager

Maddy co-leads community engagement efforts for the Foundation, planning and facilitating meetings, community events, and training with a focus on building and cultivating relationships. She also identifies grantmaking opportunities and is the liaison between the Community Advisory Councils and the Foundation. In addition, she serves on the Scholarship Review Team for the Milwaukee Public Schools Foundation.

Maddy formerly worked for 88Nine Radio Milwaukee as Community Engagement and Outreach Manager and is most proud of her contribution to the documentary film Invisible Lines and the podcast By Every Measure, both of which addressed issues of racism, segregation, and discrimination in Milwaukee. Her career also includes positions with the Milwaukee Public Library and several educational institutions.

Maddy attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and has a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies–Child Development, a Master’s degree in Urban Studies, and Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership.

Maddy’s personal life is filled with the joy of her two children and her incredible circle of friends. She is a voracious reader of mysteries and enjoys swimming whenever she can.

Zipporah (Z) Turnbull | Community Engagement Fellow

Z is a liaison between the Foundation, the community, and council members. She identifies businesses and organizations open to collaborating and hosting events and facilitates informational sessions. Z also engages with the community to build relationships and provide grant information system training.

Z’s career includes mobilizing voters, providing resources to the community, and hosting neighborhood/community association meetings. She has worked with Common Ground and Citizen Action of Wisconsin organizing volunteers and offering voter education. Z is grateful for the experience of living outside her hometown of Milwaukee, which has provided Z with opportunities and knowledge to better understand and service her local community.

Z is a University of Wisconsin, Stout graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Social Science with a concentration in Sociology and Anthropology and a Minor in Applied Peace Studies. She received the Alec Kirby Memorial Award for Leadership in Social Justice and the Building Opportunities for Leadership Development Award.

In her personal life, Z enjoys gardening, walks by the lake, tennis, and spending time with her loving, playful dog, Jazzy.

Office Hours

Join the ThriveOn Collaboration for Office Hours. Each session, information is shared about neighborhood programs, resources, and community spaces and places. We also highlight organizations that are impacting the neighborhoods adjacent to the ThriveOn King building.

Got questions about ThriveOn Collaboration or ThriveOn King? Just want to be in the know? Join us!

View office hours information (PDF)

In-Person Sessions

Tuesdays from 9:30-11:30 a.m.
at Clinton Rose Senior Center (3045 N. Doctor M.L.K. Jr Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53212)

Wednesdays from 2-4 p.m.

at Pete’s Fruit Market (2323 N. Doctor M.L.K. Jr Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53212)

Fridays from 10 a.m.-noon
at Gee’s Clippers in the vault (2200 N. Doctor M.L.K. Jr Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53212)
 

Virtual Session (via Zoom)

Tuesdays from 5-7 p.m.
Zoom registration | Meeting ID: 808 490 0247