Throughout Dr. Jeanette Mitchell’s career, which has spanned the philanthropic, corporate, nonprofit and education sectors, she was always intrigued about the idea of what made a good leader.

“In order to grow as a leader, you must be able to have a mindset of learning and service,” said Mitchell, now chief creative officer of a consulting firm called Leadership By Dr. Jeanette. “It is not for your own benefit; it is for the larger system. If you look at yourself as a servant leader, then you can be more successful.”

Mitchell has certainly been one of those, particularly within the past two decades in her work around leadership development. She leads to serve and helps develop others, particularly people of color, to do the same.

Mitchell received her doctorate in leadership for the advancement of learning and service from Cardinal Stritch University and soon afterward went on to establish the university’s Leadership Center in 2001. While there, she helped design and manage several leadership development programs. The Latino Nonprofit Leadership Program, created in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Roberto Hernandez Center, worked with individuals in nonprofits who served the Latino community. The Neighborhood Leadership Institute focused on building the capacity of community and nonprofit leaders to influence and strengthen Milwaukee neighborhoods.

The commonalities among the different programs? Building individuals’ confidence, cultivating their leadership potential and forming a leadership network across a whole variety of sectors in Milwaukee.

Over the past 12 years, that kind of leadership has been built within the African American community through the African American Leadership Program, which Mitchell also created. A desire from alumni and others to broaden its reach and sustain the talent of leaders across sectors and levels led Mitchell and others to create the African American Leadership Alliance of Milwaukee in 2017.

“The organization is built to be a connector,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell believes leadership development programs like AALP and others can influence the racial disparities that exist in Milwaukee and change the trajectory of the region. By building leaders and fostering connections between those individuals, a whole new generation of leaders are developed that can work together to begin to tackle the region’s toughest, most persistent issues and change the narrative.

“The idea is to build the capacity,” Mitchell said. “In order to accomplish what we need to accomplish, we have to create those strong partnerships with other like-minded people who are looking to make the same changes we are. That is the way we are going to be able to change the numbers.”
Throughout her professional life, Mitchell said she has been driven by the idea that there is always a way to make something happen.

“Everyone has to do something in their own sphere of influence,” she said. “Can you solve something for one school? Can you do something for one child? What can you do in your sphere? If everyone did that and had to do it for the good of others and the community, I think we could really make a difference.”


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

2023 Greater Together award recipients

William C. Frye Award

Ted and Mary Kellner

Frank Kirkpatrick Award

Ernesto and Olivia Villarreal

Doug Jansson Leadership Award

John Daniels III

President’s Leadership in Racial Equity and Social Justice Award

Lupe Martinez