2021 Women United Bruncheon
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United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

2021 Women United Bruncheon

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Watch the video from June 10, 2021.


Each year, United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council welcomes hundreds of guests to celebrate the impact of women on our local community.

Event Agenda


Nafessa Burdine
Women's Leadership Council


Amy Lindner
United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Jay Reinke
Human Trafficking Task Force of Greater Milwaukee

Human Trafficking Overview & Discussion

Denise Thomas
Senator Alberta Darling

Representing the 8th District since 1993, Alberta Darling currently serves as the Senate Co-Chair of the Joint Finance Committee, the state's budget-writing committee. Darling's constituency includes many of the municipalities directly north and northwest of Milwaukee and part of the City of Milwaukee. Before her election to the Senate, she served in the Wisconsin Assembly, representing the 10th district from 1990 to 1993. A former teacher, Senator Darling entered public service with a commitment to protecting, educating, and improving the lives of children. Senator Darling has held the title of Co-Chair longer than any other woman in Wisconsin history. She also serves as Vice-Chair of the Senate Education Committee.


Senator LaTonya Johnson

Elected to Wisconsin's 6th Senate District in 2016, Sen. Johnson previously served in Wisconsin's 17th Assembly District since 2012. The 6th district includes residential, urban and downtown Milwaukee.

Sen. Johnson has lived in Milwaukee for over 30 years. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice from Tennessee State University.

Sen. Johnson is a strong advocate for workers and working families, and served as an Executive Board member for AFSCME District Council 48, President of AFSCME Local 502, and Chair of AFSCME's Women Committee. She also acted as a Financial Employment Planner for Wisconsin Shares and was a member of the Special Committee on Public Assistance Program Integrity. Sen. Johnson is a proud graduate of the Emerge-Wisconsin Class of 2012.


Jessica Zeratsky
Women's Leadership Council

Nicole Angresano & Special Guests
United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

  Linda T. Mellowes Woman Leader of the Year

Award Presentor

Stacy Williams
Women's Leadership Council

Award Honoree

Mary Ellen Stanek

Mary Ellen Stanek headshot

Mary Ellen Stanek is a longtime United Way supporter and advocate, a philanthropic leader, and a nationally recognized financial professional.

Passionate about giving back to her community and having a positive impact on issues that affect women and girls, Mary Ellen has been involved with United Way’s Women United network since 2008 and has served on the Women’s Leadership Council since its inception.

Mary Ellen serves on many local nonprofit boards, including All-In Milwaukee, Boys & Girls Clubs (past Board Chair), Children's Hospital Foundation, Faith In Our Future Trust, Froedtert Health, Greater Milwaukee Committee (past Chair), Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Medical College of Wisconsin (past Board Chair), and Milwaukee World Festival. She has co-chaired annual campaigns for both United Way and the United Performing Arts Fund and served on the United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County Board.

A Chartered Financial Analyst, Mary Ellen has over 40 years of investment management experience. She currently serves as Managing Director of Robert W. Baird & Co. and Chief Investment Officer of Baird Advisors responsible for over $119 billion in assets under management. Additionally, she serves as President of the Baird Funds. In 2020 and 2021 she was named to Barron’s list of the 100 Most Influential Women in U.S. Finance.

Mary Ellen received her undergraduate degree from Marquette University (Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and her graduate degree from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She and her husband, Scott, have three children: Peter (Erin), Katie (Tim), and Patrick (Katie) and four grandchildren: Emme, Abigail, Kathryn and Henry.

Closing Comments

Jenny Nikolai

Women's Leadership Council

Thank You

Women's Leadership Council members and Teen Pregnancy Prevention Oversight Committee memebers for their support.

Thank You to our Event Sponsors

Charter Manufacturing • Deloitte • Enterprise Holdings • Foley & Lardner • Godfrey & Kahn • Greater Milwaukee Foundation • ManpowerGroup • Marquette University • Molson Coors Beverage Company • PNC Bank • Quarles & Brady