NEWaukeean of the Week

Audra O’Connell

"I love all the pride everyone seems to have in their heritage."

By - Oct 19th, 2015 06:46 am
Audra O’Connell

Audra O’Connell

What is your job and its responsibilities?

I’m the Coordinated Entry Program Director at IMPACT, Inc. I have the daunting task of taking all government funded emergency shelters, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, mental health safe havens, homelessness prevention and case management programs and turning them into one, unified system. A system which no longer will operate on a “first come, first serve” approach, but rather will function on prioritization. Who is most likely to experience a dangerous situation or possibly death if they continue in their episode of homelessness? A system that changes the question: no longer are we trying to make people fit our molds of what we believe they should in order to gain services, but rather, which services best fit the consumer? The goal — stop managing homelessness in Milwaukee and actually ending it. My responsibilities are all over the board — system designer, manager, grant writer, data analyst, consultant, presenter, educator, researcher, strategist.

What is the one thing you’d like to change about Milwaukee?

Our lack of public transit options. A key to reducing poverty, homelessness, unemployment, crime truly involves making all resources in our community easily accessible to those in need.

Is there an issue you believe all Milwaukeeans should turn our attention to?

Obviously, I’m going to say homelessness. Milwaukee has a 10 year plan to end homelessness, but as we reach our halfway point we are finding that our success is hampered by a lack of state-wide initiative, investment, and (local?) community engagement. Imagine what we could accomplish if we had as much…

Favorite place to grab coffee/an after dinner drink?

Paddy’s Pub. Give me the upstairs bar on live music night with a few friends.

Favorite little known fact/secret/hidden gem in Milwaukee?

Irish Cultural Heritage Center. Great concerts, book clubs, ceili dances, lectures and genealogy research. It’s amazing to see people take such pride in their heritage and work to maintain it. It also happens to be house in this beautiful, historic old church.

What strikes you as the most unique thing about Milwaukee?

I love all the pride everyone seems to have in their heritage. All the ethnic festivals, cultural centers and events are such a cool way to celebrate who we all are and learn a little bit more about each other.

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