Editor’s note: This piece is one of an occasional series on nonprofit leaders in Milwaukee. The responses have been edited for length and clarity.
The Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative (CSNI) is a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve the lives of residents where they live, work, play and worship. The neighborhood has undergone many changes for the better, with the help of leaders and community members. Tyna Rule, president of the CSNI board of directors, is working to improve the quality of life of her neighbors.
Q: How did you come to be involved in the organization?
A: I was a part of a group of residents, business leaders and organizations that got together back in 2008 or 2009 to birth the dream of Joseph Zilber, founder of the Zilber Family Foundation, to start an initiative to enhance the quality of life of the neighbors. Living in Clarke Square at that time, I was intrigued. I wanted to get involved. I wanted to see what it would turn into. I think one of my greatest accomplishments is helping to launch the Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative. Naming it, the process, the rules, the regulations, the policies — implementing all of that is really something that is dear to my heart.
Q: What makes you stand out from other people you work with?
A: I don’t know if I stand out from other people. I think we are all equally awesome in our own right. I do believe that you have to reach people where they are, and one level of involvement is no better or no worse than someone whose schedule does not allow them to attend board meetings or information sessions in the evening. We support distributing that information and soliciting their input, because they are a part of this community as well.
Q: What is the most important quality you look for in a leader?
A: I think you have to listen. I think we have one mouth and two ears for a reason.
Q: What do you enjoy most about being president of CSNI?
A: The idea that I am able to be a voice and a face of my neighbors’ ideas and thought processes, and being able to lift my voice in a manner to support causes that are important to me.
Q: How do you think Clarke Square will change over the next five years?
A: It’s yet to be seen. But I do see the organization gaining more community leaders. That’s really a goal of mine, and many neighbors that I talk to (also want to) identify and help develop leaders in this community.
Q: What is a project that you are particularly proud of?
A: Our artistic movement in Clarke Square has grown by leaps and bounds. We teamed with other residents and created “Art in the Alleys.” We enlist the neighbors to come out and share what they would like to see on their garage and in their alleys — whether it’s a sunflower or something from their ethnic group, roses, flowers, whatever it might be, to combat graffiti. We hope to share our process so that when you go down the alley, you take pride in your community.