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Community Volunteer

Co-founder & Board President

Julia Burns has over 12 years of business and partnership development experience at telecommunications, software and technology consulting companies in Boston, Milwaukee and Chicago. Having work experiences that span large multinational corporations to smaller start-ups, Julia excels in entrepreneurial environments where collaboration and team building are essential to success. While at Platinum Technology, Julia managed the global strategic partnership with Hewlett-Packard and traveled extensively to grow the joint revenues of the two sales organizations.

Since 2003, Julia focused her time and talents on raising, together with her husband, five children and volunteering extensively in their schools. Julia has a BA in Economics from Boston University College of Arts and Science and an MBA from Boston University Questrom Graduate School of Business.

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Shareholder and Chair of Banking and Finance Practice,

Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren

Board Treasurer

David Schulz is a shareholder and chair of Reinhart’s Banking and Finance Practice, a member of the firm’s Corporate Law Practice, as well as a member of Reinhart’s Board of Directors. David’s practice is primarily devoted to commercial and public finance matters including structuring transactions using New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC), Historic Tax Credits (HTC), and other federal and state tax credits.


Recognizing the importance of community involvement, David is highly involved with the Alzheimer’s Association of Southeastern Wisconsin where he serves as a Board Member and Treasurer. In addition to his involvement with the Alzheimer’s Association, David is a member of the Advisory Council of Rebuilding Together Greater Milwaukee. Notably, David along with numerous members of Reinhart’s Banking and Finance and Bankruptcy Practices volunteered their time to partner with Rebuilding Together to renovate a home on the north side of Milwaukee. David is also a member of the Wauwatosa Community Development Authority where he applies his project financing expertise to assist with re-development matters.



Founder and President,

Fund Development Corporation

Board Secretary

Elizabeth Meyer is the founder and President of Fund Development Corporation, and has more than 30 years of significant experience as a fund development professional. Her experience includes annual and capital campaigns, development assessments, marketing, and strategic planning. Meyer’s Milwaukee area-clients have included the Discovery World Pier Wisconsin Campaign, Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Milwaukee Youth Arts Center Campaign and many other area not-for-profits. Meyer’s community involvement includes:

  • Director and Secretary of the Wisconsin Preservation Trust

  • Former Director of the 1,000 Friends of the Land Institute of Wisconsin

  • Former Director and Past President of the Donors Forum of Wisconsin

  • Former Board Member of First Stage Children’s Theater

  • Former Board Member and First President of the Washington Highlands Historic Preservation Corporation

  • Former Director of the Wauwatosa Public Library Foundation

  • Former Board Member of the City of Wauwatosa Board of Zoning Appeals



President and Founder,

Bridge Builders

Board Member


Kurt Owens has been a pastor in Milwaukee since 2005. He has 20 years of accounting and leadership experience with a bachelor’s in business and an MA in Christian ministry. Kurt is in the final stages of completing his educational doctorate. He has been a resident of Milwaukee’s central city his entire life and has seen it thrive and would like to see the city return to its full capacity. He recognizes the people in the city who have struggled for positive change through the years, and wants to be a part of working towards change today.



President, Kelben Foundation

Board Member

Mary Kellner is the President of the Kelben Foundation, a family foundation that has funded hundreds of scholarships for needy high school seniors, endowments for Professorships, and many other Educational and Health initiatives. In addition to the huge impact to the Milwaukee area that her role with the Kelben Foundation provides, she is an eminent advocate for educational reform in Milwaukee. Mary brings a wealth of knowledge with her based on her vast experience in numerous organizations including Next Door Foundation, Schools That Can Milwaukee, Milwaukee College Prep, Nehemiah Project, I Have a Dream program and many others. Mary has a strong academic background to support her advocacy and philanthropy. Mary graduated from UW-Madison with a BA in Elementary Education. She later received her MS in Educational Psychology and Guidance from UW-Milwaukee. As both an elementary school teacher and later guidance counselor, Mary gained a front line understanding of the needs of education. Mary received her terminal degree, an Ed.D in Education, from Cardinal Stritch. Her research documented some of the cultural aspects of an effective MPS elementary school. Mary continues her involvement with these three educational institutions in a multitude of ways which align with her intense commitment to addressing the achievement gap that Milwaukee’s children are facing in addition to other educational disparities that exist in our community.



Senior Director of Tech

Advancement and Outreach,

Northwestern Mutual

Board Member

James Hischke is the Senior Director of Tech Advancement and Outreach at Northwestern Mutual, leading NM’s efforts to grow and strengthen Milwaukee’s tech and startup ecosystem, as well as position NM as a top technology employer.  He has held a variety of positions in technology and process improvement at Northwestern Mutual over the past 15 years.  Prior to Northwestern Mutual, James began his career as a software engineer and project manager at Strong Financial.  James has a B.S. in Computer Science from Carroll University and a MBA from Marquette University.  In addition to Pathways High, he serves on the board for the Milwaukee chapter of i.c.stars and volunteers as a baseball and basketball coach for multiple youth organizations.  On a personal note, James is married to his high school sweetheart, Beth, and is a proud dad of 4 kids.

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Chairman and Owner,

Rickert Industries

Board Member

Lisa Mauer is the Chairman and Owner of Rickert Industries, a holding company. Previously, she was the Senior Vice President responsible for Regional Development at Blackhawk Industrial. Lisa is the former Chairman of Tool Service Corporation, Tool Fabrication Corporation and Fluid Service Corporation. Currently, Lisa serves on several boards including Acuity Insurance, Bank Mutual, G3 Industries, Reinders, Inc. and the Independent Business Association of of Wisconsin. She is also the Chairman of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, a Gubernatorial Appointment. Lisa is a graduate of UW-Madison.

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Senior Director of Workforce and Industry Initiatives, Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) 

Board Member

 Julie Davis is the Sr. Director of Workforce and Industry Initiatives at the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). AEM supports over 1000 manufactures in North America that produce heavy equipment for the construction, agriculture, utility, forestry, and mining industry sectors. Julie is an industry advocate for rethinking the approach to workforce development and actively provides the industry innovative workforce ideas through videos, webinars, panels, presentations, and a robust digital workforce solutions toolkit. 

Julie also supports the industries' desire to have a unified voice and approach to sustainability both for the manufacturer and their supply chain. She facilitates a council of over 50 member companies who have come together to create a Sustainability Maturity Model which articulates the industry sectors approach to mapping the sustainability journey. After working in economic development in Northeast Wisconsin, Julie worked for the Boys & Girls Cub of Door County. She focused on reversing rural brain drain in the area by heavily investing in students that were less likely to go on to college and more likely to remain in the area through developing partnerships with local manufacturers. During her time as Executive Director, she led through the purchase and renovation a building, installation a STEAM Lab, and grew membership seven-fold over 7 years. The club earned national recognition for excellence from the Boys & Girls Club of America twice during her tenure. 

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Director of Talent Management and DEI, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee

Board Member

Raised in Milwaukee, Kanisha Phelps has more than 18 years of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) work, and 20 years in the Talent Management industry. Kanisha got her start working for Manpower's Corporate Office creating, branding and implementing training for staff while offering process improvement ideas to the organization with regard to leadership.


While taking a break from Corporate America, Kanisha pursued a lifelong dream to teach children and worked in the Milwaukee Public School district. She taught 6-12 grade Special Education, serving students with Social-Emotional and behavioral deficiencies and advocated for school-wide respect of those students while helping shift the perspectives of staff to replace the mindset of "the bad kids" to "students in need of patience and social skills". Kanisha was awarded as Teacher of the Year for her work advocating for the needs of children in 2015, being one of the first Special Education Teachers to earn that honor in the State of Wisconsin.


After 8 years in education, Kanisha returned to the world of nonprofit. Kanisha worked for 6 years at SaintA as their Learning and Talent Development supervisor and was pivotal in advancing the organizations work around Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. 


Kanisha currently is the Director of Talent Management and DEI for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee. Kanisha is also the Chief Strategist and Master Facilitator for her own organization Kaykenal Inc. where she assists, consults and guides organizations in the areas of Leadership Development, Process Improvement, Trauma Informed Care/Trauma Sensitive Schools and a variety of DEI topics.


Kanisha has a Masters in Administrative and Instructional Leadership from UW-Milwaukee.

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Assistant Director of Partnerships,

Bitwise Industries 

Board Member

Steven is the Assistant Director of Partnerships at Bitwise Industries, a California tech company that builds tech economies in underestimated cities by providing paid apprenticeships to students to learn tech skills. As a long-time professional in education with over 11 years of experience in the K-12 and higher education setting, Steven brings his understanding of the diverse ways students learn and succeed in reaching their goals. Steven has worked in the public and private sector, devoting his full time to partnership development, student support and recruitment, and community involvement at the non-profit level. Before devoting his full time to Bitwise Industries, he was the Assistant Director at College Pads, he managed partnership development and outreach in the Medical College of Wisconsin’s School of Pharmacy, developed individualized learning plans for children as an Early Head Start Parent Educator at Next Door, and was a Paraprofessional working with students in K-5 classrooms with Milwaukee Public Schools. 

Steven is also a proud alumnus of the African American Leadership Program (AALP), a transformative leadership program through African American Leadership Alliance MKE (AALAM). As an alumnus of AALP, he has had the opportunity to partner with community leaders to develop ways to make Milwaukee the region of choice for professionals across the nation. He also works closely with Social X MKE, a young professional’s social network geared towards helping young professionals thrive in Greater Milwaukee. Steven graduated from UW – Milwaukee with a BS in Educational Studies and later received his MS in Administrative Leadership – Higher Education Administration. He is committed to working in the education space and looks to provide all students with the necessary tools to be successful in achieving their goals.

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