United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County honored five community leaders for their commitment to the Milwaukee area as the winners of the 2015 Philanthropic 5 awards.
The awards, created by United Way’s Emerging Leaders Council, recognize five community leaders, in their 20s, 30s or 40s, who give, advocate and volunteer for change throughout Greater Milwaukee’s nonprofit community. This year an inaugural Philanthropic Youth (PY) award was also presented to recognize the great things that happen when youth gets involved and lives united. Each Philanthropic 5 winner is awarded $500 to donate to the charity of their choice and the Philanthropic Youth winner is awarded with a $500 scholarship for continuing education.
This year’s winners are:
Hughes is a true advocate for women and children in Milwaukee County. As President of WGIRLS Milwaukee, an organization dedicated to fundraising and promoting advocacy for nonprofits who work with disadvantaged women and children, Rachael has raised over $250,000 to support 40 local nonprofits who serve this demographic. Rachael is also passionate about being a mentor to other young professionals. She has been a Big Sister for five years and is also a member of United Way LINC (United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County’s young professional group that provides unique volunteer events to elevate your community, connections and social calendar.)
Jepson is a humble leader who has worked tirelessly advocating for the health and well-being of youth in our community. As a trained clinical social worker for several years Leah chaired Health Watch Milwaukee, an organization devoted to improving health care coverage for children and families. She also led Milwaukee’s Project LAUNCH, a city-wide coalition aimed at fostering the healthy development of children birth through age 8. Her work through Project LAUNCH informed her leadership role in the Parent Education and Support Network within Milwaukee Succeeds, the broad-based, communitywide collaboration that aims to improve educational outcomes for every child in Milwaukee, in every school, from cradle to career.
Johnson is always advocating for women and youth in Milwaukee. She has volunteered countless hours to the YMCA’s Black Achievers program and as Chair of ONE MKE, an organization whose mission is to transform leadership and relationships in order to foster and retain a diverse pipeline of talent and improve cultural competence within the city of Milwaukee. She is also the co-founder of 29Eleven, an organization that creates marketing initiatives that help drive awareness on a variety of issues. Her Kiss Domestic Violence Goodbye event raises funds and advocates for domestic violence. Jasmine’s annual event Fight like a Girl has helped raise money to support local cancer organizations for advocacy and awareness for prevention and early detection of cancers within the most disparate communities.
Singh is a driven leader who spends most of her days advocating for others. As the Executive Director of the Burke Foundation, she is committed to urban education and youth development. She also dedicates her personal time helping other nonprofits, like Meta House, succeed. Recently, Deanna held a fundraiser that funded start-up costs for Shorewood House, Meta House’s newest residential treatment center. Deanna also believes in instilling that act of giving in her two children. Her 6-year old son, Zephaniah, raised over $1,000 selling lemonade and donated it to a Milwaukee teacher and a group of women from India looking to start their own business, which he and Deanna were connected to through DonorsChoose.org and Kiva, and also sold his artwork to benefit the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Kiekhofer is wholeheartedly a man of compassion. As owner of Front Room Photography, Neil has donated his time and talents to bring quality photography to local nonprofits including United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County. Through his creative lens, he’s able to tell beautiful stories of people making a difference across our community. His studio also hosts “Charity Days’ which helps raise money for a variety of nonprofits. In addition to his work with nonprofits, Neil and his wife also volunteer with their twin girls to help teach them about giving back to the community.
SenthilKumar, a recent graduate of Brookfield Central High School, received the inaugural Philanthropic Youth (PY) award. As the Head of Publicity and Activism for Brookfield Central’s Junior Statesmen of America chapter, Gopika challenged her schoolmates to “open their eyes to the needs of the community” and initiated a United Way student campaign at her high school, coined “Donate Your Age to United Way.” The campaign calls on students to give back to the community on their birthday by donating the dollar amount matching the age they are turning that year. With hopes of spreading this project to schools beyond her own and share her message to area youth organizations and groups, Gopika serves as the youngest member of UWGMWC’s Campaign Cabinet. Gopika’s ambition is to bring affordable, quality healthcare to the Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County community. To do this, she frequently volunteers her time at Froedtert Hospital and other local charities, and in the fall, she will be studying Biomedical Engineering and Pre-Med at University of Wisconsin- Madison.