President's Challenge - Advisors

Advisors will provide 1-to-2, hour-long drop-in session(s) between June 1-12, 2020.

  • Advisors are comprised of a mix of American Family and Johnson Controls employees, Marquette University faculty, and Community Leaders
  • Advisors cannot participate in the President’s Challenge

Advising Session Sign-Up

  • To sign-up for advising sessions, please contact Nadine Desmarais, executive assistant to the Office of Economic Engagement at Teams are encouraged to sign-up as soon as possible, as participation in sessions will occur on a first-come, first serve basis. 

The advisors are serving three purposes in supporting the teams:

  • As community members, partners, and faculty experts, they have been invited to bring their unique experience to inform the development of team proposals.
  • During sessions, they will be asked to provide a bit of their own background, and experience related to the topic, and then respond to questions/ideas that teams are considering.
  • They will not be a part of the selection process and have no additional role in the President’s Challenge—COVID-19 Response Grant beyond serving as another supportive person in the development of proposals.


Economic Revitalization

  • According to a recent study, Milwaukee is estimating the economic fallout from the pandemic will cost the city $6.7 million in revenue in March and April alone. How can and does Milwaukee revitalize its economy and communities?
  • Includes, but not limited to: innovations, models for recovery, anticipated changes, public policy, monetary policy, fiscal policy, government operations, public services, small business support


  • Ms. JoAnne Sabir, co-founder of The Shindig, MKE Team Member, American Family Insurance

Virtual Drop-in Sessions: Tuesday, 6/2, 10-11am; and, Thursday, 6/4, 10-11am

 A self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur, Sabir is co-founder of The Shindig; Sauce and Spice Pizza; Freedom Endeavors Real Estate Development, and the Sherman Phoenix. As co-owner of the Sherman Phoenix, Sabir has created a model of positive economic impact and social returns in communities of color. Sabir has been awarded the Milwaukee Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 Award as well as the Biz Times Community Leader of the Year Award.


Mental Health and Wellness

  • There is a need to better understand COVID-19’s current and future effects on mental health and wellness as Milwaukee endures and ultimately recovers from the pandemic.
  • Includes, but not limited to: impact on psychological trauma, economic trauma, mental health, behavioral sciences, food insecurities, models for recovery, impacts on healthcare workers and their families


  • Dr. Emily Mazzulla, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychology, Director of SWIM Collaboration and Innovation

Virtual Drop-in Sessions: Wednesday, 6/3, 9-10am; and, Wednesday, 6/10, 9-10am

Dr. Mazzulla's clinical and research interests are in the areas of trauma and resilience, specifically with refugees and new Americans. Through her work with Marquette and SWIM, Dr. Mazzulla has witnessed the fortitude, passion and resilience of the Milwaukee community. 

Based on your experience and your knowledge of MKE, what advice would you offer teams who are creating proposals for this challenge?

The impact of the coronavirus has been life altering, including traumatic aspects such as illness, death, and injustice.  However, the Milwaukee community is strong and community members are resilient.  In this time of need, I have observed community members come together to help those in need including community based organizations that have shifted gears to quickly respond to new needs resulting from the coronavirus.

  • Dr. Jon A. Lehrmann MD, Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Medical College of Wisconsin, and Associate Chief of Staff for Mental Health, Milwaukee VAMC

Virtual Drop-in Sessions: Friday, 6/5, 9-10am; and, Tuesday, 6/9, 1-2pm

Dr Lehrmann has focused his career on improving Veteran mental health and expanding access to mental health care across the community. In addition, he has worked to improve and expand the training of mental health care professionals. 

Based on your experience and your knowledge of MKE, what advice would you offer teams who are creating proposals for this challenge?

The potentially life threatening COVID-19 has changed our world overnight. Our community has come together and quite effectively met the challenge of flattening the curve thus far but it is wearing on us all trying to sustain these efforts, and just as threatening as the physical aspects of COVID-19 is the negative mental health impact.  We have witnessed how a community can work together. To address the mental health challenges now will test us even further when many are feeling stretched. The Presidents Challenge presents resources to support an effort to better understand or address the significant mental health challenges that result from COVID -19.

  • Ms. Noleta L. Franz, Legal Operations Project Manager at Johnson Controls, Inc.

Virtual Drop-in Sessions: Thursday, 6/4, 2-3pm; and, Monday, 6/8, 2-3pm

Noleta has over 15 years of legal experience. She is responsible for providing support for special projects within the Company’s Law Department, including its Organizational Health Initiative, Technology & Process Support, and Vendor Management. Prior to that, she worked for 10 years for a national minority-owned law firm located in downtown Milwaukee.

Noleta holds a Masters of Organizational Leadership and Administration degree from Concordia University as well as a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. She also holds a certification in African America Leadership from Cardinal Stritch University. She serves as a board member for Above the Clouds. A non-profit organization that has devoted its energy to passionately advocating to help children connect to the arts. Additionally, she has worked with Scaling Wellness in Milwaukee (SWIM) Corporate Engagement team co-authoring a Trauma Informed Care Workplace curriculum to be utilized as part of their ongoing efforts to heal trauma in Milwaukee. 

Based on your experience and your knowledge of MKE, what advice would you offer teams who are creating proposals for this challenge?

Think about some of the issues that the city of Milwaukee has faced prior to the Covid 19 pandemic. Now think about how as a result of this pandemic many of those issues have been exacerbated. The effects of which will be seen for months, maybe even years to come. What issue can you address that will be impactful and also have sustainability as MKE moves forward.


Health Services

  • This pandemic has highlighted strengths and opportunities within Milwaukee’s healthcare services.
  • Includes, but not limited to: healthcare analytics, healthcare delivery, population health, health communications, disproportionate impacts on minoritized-groups, pandemic preparation


  • Dr. Kathy Gardner Rapala, DNP, JD, RN, CPPS, Clinical Associate Professor, Marquette University College of Nursing

Virtual Drop-in Sessions: Tuesday, 6/9, 9-10am; and, Wednesday, 6/10, 1-2pm

Dr. Rapala was formerly Vice President of Clinical Risk for Advocate Aurora Health, with clinical risk responsibility for hospitals, clinics, home health, lab, and medical groups of Wisconsin and Illinois. Her previous positions included Vice President of Clinical Risk for Aurora Health, Visiting Associate Professor at Purdue School of Nursing, Director of the Indianapolis Coalition for Patient Safety and the Director of Risk Management and Patient Safety at IU Health.  She has chaired the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)/National Patient Safety Patient Safety Certification Executive Oversight Committee since 2012 and is an IHI faculty member.  Dr. Rapala’s 2008 grant to link smart pump databases grew into the over 414 facility Purdue Regenstrief REMEDI international pump collaborative.

Based on my experience and knowledge of MKE, I’d offer the following advice to teams creating proposals for this challenge:

Catastrophes allow us to address risk, before, during, and after a crisis.  There is a need to review issues retrospectively, and address areas of weakness amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as internet access, health disparities, health access, and supply chain issues. There is also a need to recognize what went right.  Programs and measures will be developed to proactively address risk. It is likely that individual organizations will create reports that address these issues. 

Concentration on two areas will help effective programs.  From a community perspective, eliminating silos and collaboration with organizations, governmental agencies, universities, and others to establish effective, efficient, transparent, and measurable programs will strengthen the resilience of our population and organization to both present and future stressors.  Secondly, an effective solution will be sustainable and measurable over time.  Reviewing the past and the present is important to inform any solution, but a sustainable solution that addresses issues going forward is crucial. 

  • Mr. Chris Mambu-Rasch, Director of Government & Community Relations, Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers

 Virtual Drop-in Sessions: Wednesday, 6/3, 10-11am; and, Thursday, 6/4, 11am-Noon

Chris Mambu Rasch is the Director of Government Relations and Strategic Partnerships for Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers.  Chris is responsible for maintaining and building strategic partnerships with community organizations on behalf of Sixteenth Street.  He also leads Sixteenth Street’s government relations advocacy and works with local, state, and federal elected officials, their staffs, and governmental agencies to effectively channel the goals and program needs of Sixteenth Street. Chris has decades of experience working on healthcare policy issues having prior worked for both a physician association and a nurse organization.

Based on your experience and your knowledge of MKE, what advice would you offer teams who are creating proposals for this challenge?

    • Proposals should consider solutions to the root causes of the inequities that caused the disproportionate impact on minority communities.
    • Given this may go on for some time, and the ramifications in minority communities will last well beyond the immediate pandemic, consideration to proposals should include long-term impacts/solutions as well as addressing immediate needs.