20th MANDI Awards Get Big Turnout
Many politicians at celebration honoring those improving city's neighborhoods.
“I call this the Academy Awards of Milwaukee,” said Mayor Tom Barrett.
And judging by appearances, he’s spot on. The presentation of the annual MANDI’s, or Milwaukee Awards for Neighborhood Development Innovation, drew more than 800 well-dressed attendees to the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino‘s ballroom Thursday evening for a well-choreographed celebration.
Hosted by Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the MANDI’s honor those making an impact in the community. This year was the 20th annual celebration.
In addition to dinner, guests were treated to a fashion show by local designers, music from DJ Shawna and a large array of desserts from Heartlove Place and A Goodmans’ Desserts.
Governor Tony Evers joined Barrett and Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele at the event. “I’m happy to be here tonight to celebrate what’s working in Milwaukee” said the governor. Other elected officials in attendance including council president Ashanti Hamilton, county board chair Theodore Lipscomb, state assembly rep Kalan Haywood II and circuit court judge Hannah Dugan.
What’s the takeaway from the event? “When we support neighborhood businesses like those featured here tonight we support neighborhood identity, neighborhood prosperity and, by extension, well creation,” said Strong Hill.
Milwaukee Brewers Community Foundation executive director Cecelia Gore drew laughs when she told the audience she was happy to have walkup music before presenting an award, something that’s usually only given to the Brewers’ players.
But Gore’s comedy was soon upstaged by Northern Trust‘s Jamie Reeve III. The banker took the stage to the Digital Underground‘s 1990 hit “The Humpty Dance.” After singing and dancing a verse of the song, Reeve presented the Navigator Award to community development leader Susan Lloyd. The Zilber Neighborhood Initiative leader demurred on dancing or rapping, but still drew a standing ovation.
The 20th-anniversary event came full circle when former LISC executive director Leo Ries accepted the State Farm Building Blocks Award on behalf of the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation. The organization, which Ries now leads, was honored for its work on the Welford Sanders Historic Lofts and Enterprise Center. Ries created the MANDIs event during his time at the helm of LISC. The community development veteran left LISC in 2015 and shortly thereafter became the head of the MLKEDC after the passing of Welford Sanders, who was posthumously honored at the 2016 MANDIs.
Northwestern Mutual‘s Audra Brennan presented the second annual Collaboration Award to the Reclaiming Our Neighborhoods (RON) program. The award came with a surprise $20,000 contribution to the program from the insurance company’s foundation in recognition of 20 years of the MANDIs. The program, which had recently become unfunded, is a partnership of Sherman Park Community Association, Washington Park Partners, Riverworks Development Corporation and Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative. It was most recently funded by a 2013 redlining lawsuit funded by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council.
The Wells Fargo People’s Choice Award, for which Urban Milwaukee hosted voting for the past two weeks, was presented to the Running Rebels, MATC’s Promise program and Washington Park Neighbors. Each organization will receive $1,000 from Wells Fargo.
- The “Brewers Community Foundation Public Space Award” for public space that helps build the community was awarded to the Multi-Sport Complex at Browning Elementary and Silver Spring Neighborhood Center. Washington Park Neighbors was also nominated.
- The “BMO Harris Cornerstone Award” for commitment and effectiveness over time was awarded to the Running Rebels. CORE El Centro was also nominated.
- The “Chase Economic Development Award” for economic and business development was awarded to Blue Skies Landscaping. Rev-Up MKE was also nominated.
- The “Northern Trust Navigator Award” for individual leadership went to Susan Lloyd. Carolyn Esswein of UW-Milwaukee was also nominated.
- The “Associated Bank Trail Blazer Award” for an innovative approach to a community problem was awarded to the MATC Promise program. PeppNation Sports Leadership Camps MKE was also nominated.
- The “State Farm Building Blocks Award” for a real estate project that advances the community was awarded to the Welford Sanders Historic Lofts and Enterprise Center. The Turnkey Renovation Program from Layton Boulevard West Neighbors was also nominated.
- The “Wells Fargo People’s Choice Award” was awarded to the Running Rebels, MATC Promise and Washington Park Neighbors.
- The “Northwestern Mutual Collaboration Award” for nonprofits that collaborate and align was given to the Reclaiming Our Neighborhoods program.
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