Annie Mattea

Forum Names 2021 Local Government Award Winners

Five of winners picked by Wisconsin Policy Forum are local organizations and individuals.

By - Nov 2nd, 2021 01:45 pm
Public Works Commissioner Jeff Polenske and WI Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson lead a group on a tour of green infrastructure improvements under the Marquette Interchange. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Public Works Commissioner Jeff Polenske and WI Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson lead a group on a tour of green infrastructure improvements under the Marquette Interchange. File photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The City of Milwaukee is home to five Wisconsin Policy Forum 2021 Salute to Local Government award winners.

The 29th annual Salute celebrates public sector ingenuity through Wisconsin. Award categories recognize local governments and school districts for problem solving, intergovernmental and public-private cooperation and individuals in the public sector.

“As the impacts of the pandemic have continued to create challenges for local governments and school districts across Wisconsin and new sources of federal funds have created both new responsibilities and opportunities, it is particularly important to honor this outstanding group of governments and public sector leaders for their innovation, collaboration, and effectiveness,” Forum President Rob Henken said in a press release.  

New categories were added this year regarding racial equity and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic challenges. 

“This has been a very difficult year-and-a-half for public sector leaders and workers, many of whom have logged increased hours and been subjected to increased risks to ensure citizens receive the services they need,” Henken said. “We are thrilled to be able to honor several examples of local governments and individuals who have stepped up when needed most.”

The Milwaukee winners include Maria Monteagudo, the former director of the Department of Employee Relations for the City of Milwaukee. She is receiving the “James R. Ryan Lifetime Achievement Award” for her accomplishments in her position. She helped develop a successful risk management program and facilitated the city’s transition after the passage of Act 10. Monteagudo retired in fall 2020.

The Milwaukee Water Equity Taskforce, a partnership of the Milwaukee Water Works and Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, is receiving the “Effort to Advance Racial Equity” award for its efforts to increase workforce equity. The task force convened community groups, nonprofit organizations and educational institutions to develop a plan to diversify the government entities’ workforces.  

The City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County and the State of Wisconsin are receiving an award for “Intergovernmental Cooperation” due to their work addressing homelessness and reimagining the area under the Marquette Interchange. In 2019, following unsustainable conditions at the Tent City homeless encampments beneath the interchange, a workgroup was formed to create a model to move individuals to shelter and housing placement, as well as connecting them to other services. Housing was obtained for all who were living at the encampment. In 2021, the site reopened as a stormwater management site with public amenities.

The Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services‘ Division on Aging is receiving an award for “Public-Private Cooperation” for its “Dine Out” program, a pandemic-inspired partnership with local restaurants where the restaurants provided healthy food for vulnerable seniors that was either picked up at dining sites or delivered to their homes. All four participating restaurants are minority-owned and located in low-income neighborhoods.

The Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management is receiving the “Pandemic Hero Award” for creating a COVID-19 dashboard to visualize the landscape of the pandemic. 

Other award recipients include the City of Middleton Sustainability Committee for its “Innovative Approach to Problem Solving.” The committee has worked with the city to address sustainability initiatives such as community gardens, waste and recycling, clean energy and other opportunities. 

Jim Healy is receiving the “Jean B. Tyler Leader of the Future Award” for his work as administrator of the Village of Richfield. He oversaw passage of a voter referendum in 2018 that doubled the amount Richfield will be able to levy for road construction and maintenance. He also forged a public-private partnership to build a new volunteer fire company headquarters.

Steve O’Malley is receiving the “Norman N. Gill Award for Individual Excellence” for his work as La Crosse County Administrator. His tenure has been marked by strong fiscal stewardship and a willingness to seek out creative partnerships, said the announcement.

An event to celebrate these awards will be held Nov. 17 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with limited in-person attendance at the Italian Conference Center. Capacity for in-person attendance has been reached, but interested attendees can register to watch online on the Wisconsin Policy Forum’s website

More information about winners can be found on the Wisconsin Policy Forum’s website.

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Categories: Politics

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