Olivieri, through legal career and volunteer work, has opened the doors to opportunities for thousands in Latino community

José Olivieri loves building relationships and resolving problems. Over more than four decades in Milwaukee, through his work as a top-rated attorney and through service to more than a dozen local nonprofits, he has done so for the betterment of the city’s Latino community. 

Olivieri’s commitment to service was developed and nurtured while in college. He was recruited from Puerto Rico to attend Carroll University in Waukesha, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science. While there, his professor and academic adviser, Walter Sava, introduced him to the nonprofit community.

“He led by example,” said Olivieri about Sava, who later became the executive of La Casa de Esperanza and recruited Olivieri to join the board. “It was a natural transition for me.”

While building his legal career at Michael Best & Friedrich – which has included specialties in labor and employment relations and immigration – Olivieri deepened his involvement in the community. In addition to serving as his law firm’s Milwaukee office managing partner and leading its higher education industry group, Olivieri has helped advance issues affecting the Latino community and aided in the professional development of Latinos in the legal field by helping found the Wisconsin Hispanic Lawyers Association.

He has served in board leadership roles at a variety of organizations in southeastern Wisconsin including the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Legal Action of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Public Library Foundation, Lutheran Social Services and Froedtert Health System. In recent years he has given of his time and talent as a member of the Hispanic Collaborative, an organization working to advance outcomes for Latinos in the region and help Milwaukee become one of the nation’s Top 10 Hispanic communities.

“I want to have a significant impact if I can in whatever I do,” said Olivieri, who has been named one of the most powerful Latinos in Wisconsin, about what motivates him to become involved in a particular organization.

But education, in particular providing opportunities to higher education, has long been a passion point and driving force for his community involvement. Olivieri served on the boards of Mount Mary University, Carroll University and the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents and has taught at Marquette University Law School, where he received his law degree.

“It is really the key for people to have opportunities and have choices in life,” said Olivieri, who also has provided legal counsel for the Milwaukee Charter School Advocates. “If you can complete those programs, you’ve really opened the doors to so many different opportunities to yourself and your family.”

He has channeled that passion to ensuring that all Hispanic children have access to quality education. Olivieri has helped improve educational opportunities for thousands of area children through his involvement in the United Community Center, a comprehensive social service agency serving the state’s fastest growing minority population. He spent more than a quarter century on UCC’s board, including 20 years as its board president. During that time, the nonprofit grew to become a $40 million agency with more than 430 employees. Through an early learning academy, two charter schools, a precollege program and other programs, it serves more than 18,000 people annually, from children ages 6 weeks to 103 years old.

“It’s very satisfying to see that we established something that made it possible for them to have the choices that they have now,” he said.

Past President’s Leadership in Racial Equity and Social Justice award recipients

2022 Greater Together award recipients

William C. Frye Award

Ralph Hollmon

Frank Kirkpatrick Award

Keith Stanley

Doug Jansson Leadership Award

Lauren Feaster

President’s Leadership in Racial Equity and Social Justice Award

José Olivieri