Partnership MKE
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United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Group of PartnershipMKE participants

Partnership MKE

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To promote and nurture experiences and encounters between individuals, with the ultimate goal of building authentic relationships across the divides that exist within our community, and creating a blueprint on how to address and solve biases.


Built on the legacy of The Mosaic Project (2000 – 2010), Partnership MKE is a new initiative that aims to break down barriers and destroy bias by pairing individual community leaders across lines of race, age, religion, sexual orientation, and culture. The program will guide participants through an eight-month process of relationship, understanding, and trust-building.

The new Partnership MKE is designed with two levels of interaction, creating a holistic approach to driving personal and social change:

  1. Identify, encourage, and train as many of the 600 Mosaic Project alumni to re-establish and use their social capital within racial and ethnic diversity in Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County.
  2. Create a new cohort of partners to participate in a curriculum-based experience that integrates social networks and binds them focusing on measuring community outcomes.

About Partnership MKE

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Why Partnership MKE?

Most people have heard bigoted comments in a meeting or at a party and have remained silent. Why? Because confronting bigotry requires skills that most people simply do not have. Responding to hateful speech or actions requires the ability to interrupt the activity, to use appropriate but effective language, and to do so without sacrificing business objectives or social capital.

It also requires a level of comfort that comes from one-to-one relationships crossing barriers of race, religion, intellectual or physical ability, sexual orientation, ethnicity or national origin.

And, perhaps most important, it requires an understanding that one person can make a difference in combating hate.

By focusing on racial equity, inclusion and the development of social capital, Partnership MKE hopes to create a better, more cohesive Milwaukee. Our objective is to build social capital and improve race relations among leaders that represent Milwaukee’s broad dimensions of diversity.

Who is leading Partnership MKE?

Partnership MKE is part of a three-year initiative of United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County, in collaboration with The Milwaukee Jewish Federation, aimed at reducing bigotry in Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Jewish Federation is the central address for Milwaukee’s Jewish community and works to nurture and sustain a vibrant Jewish community through financial resource development, outreach and engagement, and community planning. Partnership MKE is rooted in the fundamental Jewish value of tikkun olam, a mandate to improve the society in which we live.

What happens during the program?

Participants of the eight-month intensive program receive trainings on leadership development through the lens of eradicating intolerance and prejudice, while creating a safe space to learn and grow.

Leaders are paired together and will periodically meet with their partner, in addition to engaging in eight small group workshops. Influencers from each sector will be paired with someone of a different background and work together to develop an individual or institutional action plan to implement sustainable change within their spheres of influence. 

Because we know how critical relationship development is, Partnership MKE will be strategic in fostering the idea of friendship among the partners. Our hope is to get leaders to move beyond obligation into a genuine interest in each other’s lives.

Why focus on building this type of leadership development across sectors?

The challenges we face in Milwaukee – addressing and solving biases within our community – hinder the growth and success of our city. The Partnership MKE program aims to provide practical and applicable solutions to these challenges. Through this program, we address the broader dimensions of diversity – inclusive to religion, sexual-orientation, women’s equality, disability and the ethnic groups of Milwaukee – and equip cross sector leaders to become change agents for a better, stronger, more cohesive Milwaukee. This program will help give leaders the tools to reduce within their spheres of influence and the community as a whole.

What is Partnership MKE not?

Partnership MKE is NOT Mosaic Milwaukee, but will build from Mosaic Milwaukee’s tremendous success. Partnership MKE is not a diversity program, nor a mentorship program. Individuals participating are paired and considered equals. This is a very unique program that empowers individuals, not institutions or organizations, to create change. Indeed, the Partnership MKE program uses a two-by-two approach to addressing broader community challenges.

Who should apply?

Participants are experienced, cross-sector leaders with diverse social networks and spheres of influence that represent the diversity we find in Milwaukee. They also have the desire and power to create change or influence the culture of their workplace and/or community.

2021-22 Cohort

Danielle Bly, WEC Energy Group/We Energies

Marjorie Bradbury Laing, MGIC

Steve Brewer, Benchmark Analytics

Michael Charboneau, Baird

Lena DeLaet, Milwaukee World Festival, Inc.

Julie Divjak, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Kai Yael Gardner Mishlove, Jewish Community Relations Council

Cathy Girard, Goodwill Industries of Southeastern WI, Inc

Jesus Gonzalez, Rockwell Automation

Bobby Griffin, Rockwell Automation

Brendan Griffith, Reputation Partners

Tawana Harper, Milwaukee College Prep

Maricha Harris, Dominican Center

Raynetta Hill, CommonBond Communities

Erica Horton, Next Door Foundation

Dante Houston, AMN Healthcare

Ryan Hurley, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Kadie Jelenchick, Foley & Lardner LLP

Ginger Lazovik, Keller Williams

Suzanne Maldonado, Goodwill Industries of Southeastern WI, Inc

Molly Kathryn Mattefs, NEWaukee

Shawn McCourt, Goodwill Industries of Southeastern WI, Inc

Laura Meine, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Dan Michael, Goodwill Industries of Southeastern WI, Inc

Shelly Sabourin, Froedtert Health

Dave Steele, Regional Transit Leadership Council

Jayne Thoma, United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Kent Walters, Goodwill Industries of Southeastern WI, Inc

Bridget Whitaker, Safe & Sound

Chad Winters, Hub International

Paul Wuteska, Rockwell Automation

Dashal Myron Young, Wisconsin Community Services