Community leaders honored with Greater Together Awards

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation recently honored four community leaders – Chris Her-Xiong, Geneva Johnson, Lynnea Katz-Petted, and Judge Derek C. Mosley – whose exceptional contributions in time, talent and treasure make a better place to live for all who call our community home.

Established this year, the Greater Together Awards featured several long-standing awards including the William C. Frye Award (92 past award recipients), Frank Kirkpatrick Award (45 past award recipients), Doug Jansson Leadership Award (9 past award recipients), and the inaugural President’s Leadership in Philanthropy Award.

“There is no single approach to community impact, but consistently at the center are dedicated people drawing on their passion and talent to lead others toward positive change,” said Ellen Gilligan, president and CEO of the Foundation. “Congratulations to our 2019 Greater Together Award recipients whose pioneering and selfless work will inspire others for years to come.”

Together, the following civic leaders have demonstrated how great things happen in our communities because of people with a vision for benefiting their community and willingness to take the lead.

Geneva Johnson, Community Volunteer 

President’s Leadership in Philanthropy Award
Honoring a lifetime of generosity in the practice of philanthropy

From the time she can remember, Geneva Johnson’s life has been about service to others. As a teenager, Johnson would volunteer in the Fellowship House, a settlement house in her neighborhood, where her job was to direct and create activities for kids in the neighborhood.

Since then, her life has been one of serving others through various organizations such as the Houston YWCA and United Ways in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York, before joining the United Way of America in 1978 as a senior vice president.

Johnson is also former president and CEO of Family Service America, Inc. and Families International, Inc. She has received several national recognitions and awards and serves on many boards.

“Whatever we do, whatever organizations we're involved in via church, be it the hospital, be it a college, it’s to bring people together for the better good of the community,” said Johnson. “And no community is great unless the people in it are involved in helping it to become great.”

Lynnea Katz-Petted, Revitalize Milwaukee

Frank Kirkpatrick Award
Honoring commitment to enhancing community spaces and places

When Lynnea Katz-Petted moved to Milwaukee 20 years ago, she did not plan to stay long. Now 20 years later, the CEO of Revitalize Milwaukee has gotten to know more about the community, the people and the issues that matter most, including housing.

At Revitalize Milwaukee, a nonprofit that provides free home repairs and modifications for homeowners in need, Katz-Petted has advanced organizational funding from $40,000 to over $1.7 million annually, structured an inspiring community network and increased the diversity of projects that serve to revitalize neighborhoods, employ local contractors and provide critical home repairs throughout Milwaukee and Waukesha counties.

“Nothing happens in this community that I think is worthwhile without collaboration. None of us can do this work by ourselves,” Katz-Petted said. “The Greater Milwaukee Foundation, for example, is a huge collaborator, because if we didn’t have the funding and the donors, we wouldn't be able to do the work we’re doing.

Chris Her-Xiong, Hmong American Peace Academy

Doug Jansson Leadership Award
Honoring inspirational leadership in the nonprofit sector

Chris Her-Xiong firmly believes that to transform a life is to transform the world. That’s why she founded the Hmong American Peace Academy in 2004, Wisconsin’s first Hmong charter school, which welcomed 200 students in its first year.

“When I started my principal license, I felt that there needed to be a school that would address who our scholars are and where they come from so that they can be productive citizens,” Her-Xiong said. “And so, it came down to the goal of transformation. I wanted a school that would transform our scholars, our families, our community and our city.”

Today, the academy serves over 1,800 scholars and has a 100 percent college acceptance rate. It’s a school dedicated to academic achievement, leadership and teaching, and preserving Hmong culture, all principles that have guided Her-Xiong’s own journey.

Judge Derek C. Mosley, City of Milwaukee Municipal Court

William C. Frye Award
Honoring exceptional civic contributions to create positive change across our region

Four years ago, Judge Derek Mosley was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease. After receiving a kidney from a close friend, Mosley dedicated his life’s purpose to fulfilling not just his dreams, but the dreams of those in Milwaukee.

From dressing as Santa for kids who can’t afford traditional pictures to adopting a school to holding court at the homeless shelter, Mosley has devoted his time outside of the courtroom to working with a wide variety of community organizations, including the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee, TransCenter for Youth, Lad Lake Adolescent Residential Treatment Center, St. Rose Youth & Family Center and Urban Ecology Center.

“Anytime I can expose kids to things that they don't ordinarily see right in their backyard, it just has a profound effect in opening their minds to what’s out there with this whole city,” said Mosley.