Alumni National Awards

All-University Award Recipients


Barbara Eannelli Klein, Bus Ad '72
Hartland, Wis.

With her four children in high school and college, Barbara wanted to revisit one of her first loves: the Spanish language. Her decision to brush up her skills led her to Journey House Center for Family Learning and Youth Athletics, where her leadership has expanded opportunities and helped increase the quality of life for more than 7,000 children and families.

During lunch one day with her husband, Dennis Klein, Bus Ad ’73, then-Marquette president Rev. Robert Wild, S.J., and Charles Ries, Marquette’s senior director of development design and innovation, Barbara mentioned that she had re-enrolled at Marquette to study Spanish. She told them of her desire to volunteer on Milwaukee’s South Side, largely populated with native Spanish speakers. Soon afterward, Ries connected her with Journey House.

Barbara started as a GED tutor for English language learners, part of the organization’s adult education program. Journey House also focuses on youth development, workforce preparation and family engagement to empower families to move out of poverty. CEO Michele Bria eventually invited Barbara to join the organization’s board, on which she has served for 15 years, including two years as board president (2009–2010) and two years as board chair (2011–2012).

“She has an extraordinary gift to listen, intensely reflect, then provide such enlightening and innovative perspectives and ideas that help Journey House — and me as a leader — soar to new heights,” says Michele, who also praises Barbara’s knack for connecting people to accomplish goals, including the opening of a new Journey House facility in 2012 in partnership with Milwaukee Public Schools.

Among Barbara’s many role models in the area of service for others are her husband, Dennis; her mother-in-law, Beverly Klein; and her parents, Josephine (Dolly) Eannelli and Joseph Eannelli, Bus Ad ’50.

It was her father who encouraged her to attend Marquette and study business. “It prepared me for life,” Barbara says, “and for sitting on the boards of the organizations that I do, because I understand the financial statement and what you have to do to be successful.”

Barbara also volunteers on the boards of four organizations doing very different work: Friends of Lake Shore State Park; Core El Centro, which offers affordable alternative healing services; a girls’ empowerment initiative called I Don’t Want To Be a Princess, founded by her niece Beckie Thompson, Grad ’00; and Music Lab, started by Milwaukee singer-songwriter Grace Weber, which aims to bring local high-school musicians together for workshops and jam sessions.

In addition to their annual giving, she and Dennis have also supported Marquette with a naming gift to the soccer stadium and a recent gift to the College of Health Sciences Innovation Fund. They’ve emphasized that spirit of giving back — both financially and with time — to their children, Joe, Michael, Megan and Caroline.

Barbara cites a Mother Teresa quote that has always resonated with her — “Peace begins with a smile.” — as inspiration for her volunteerism.

“This can be the first step in making our world a better place and in helping others achieve their goals,” she says. “Smile, listen, encourage and support.”