Kenneth Germanson to receive 2014 Frank P. Zeidler Public Service Award
News release from Alderman Robert J. Bauman
Kenneth “Ken” Germanson, a longtime advocate for workers’ rights, access to health care and higher education for low-income families, as well as for civic engagement in many areas, has been unanimously selected by the Frank P. Zeidler Public Service Award selection committee as the 2014 recipient of the award, which honors the life and work of former Milwaukee Mayor Frank Zeidler.
Mr. Germanson will be honored in the third floor Common Council Chamber anteroom on Wednesday, September 3, 2014 at 8:30 a.m., and prior to the start of the regular Common Council meeting at 9 a.m. (in the Council Chamber) at City Hall, 200 E. Wells St. Media coverage is invited.
A native of Milwaukee, Mr. Germanson is a former newspaper reporter, longtime labor union leader and community agency worker. Since his retirement in 1992, he has worked for Community Advocates, Inc., in advocacy services involving health care for low-income families, youth development, child abuse prevention and other areas.
In addition, Mr. Germanson has been active in leadership roles for numerous nonprofit agencies. For nearly 20 years he was president of the Wisconsin Labor History Society (an affiliate of the Wisconsin Historical Society) and is still active managing its website and newsletter. Because of Mr. Germanson’s tireless efforts lobbying the state Legislature, Wisconsin schools now feature labor history as part of the curriculum; and hundreds attend the annual commemoration in Bay View of the movement for an eight hour day, when seven Milwaukee residents were shot and killed by the state militia on May 5, 1886.
Mr. Germanson is also a blogger, using his writing skills to advocate for jobs, for an end to gun violence, and against racism, among other topics. He is also part of a group that has encouraged the creation of a City Hall museum.
Civil rights attorney Arthur Heitzer, chair of the award selection committee, said Mr. Germanson has dedicated most of his life to improving the lives of ordinary working people in Milwaukee. “Ken is not only respected for his tireless dedication and effectiveness, but he is also widely appreciated personally for his humility, generosity and kind diplomacy when needed,”
Mr. Heitzer said, citing Mr. Germanson’s key role in bringing labor and environmental groups together. Mr. Heitzer noted in particular the comments of Mayor Frank Zeidler’s daughter Anita, who wrote: “Ken is not a man who promises and does not deliver. He produces more than he promises. If there’s a question of fighting discrimination, of supporting workers’ rights and welfare, or of teaching the lessons of Milwaukee’s history, Ken has been and will be involved.” Mr. Germanson has owned the same home in Milwaukee’s Tippecanoe neighborhood for 50 years. He and his wife, Ann, had five children.
In addition to Mr. Heitzer, the selection committee is composed of Alderman Robert J. Bauman (vice chair), Milwaukee historian and writer John Gurda, Shelley Bruehling of the Frank P. Zeidler Center for Public Discussion, and community member Jack Murtaugh (a previous recipient of the Zeidler award).
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