On January 3, 1882, Aurora Family Service was founded as the Associated Charities of Milwaukee. This year, we are celebrating our 130th year of building stronger, healthier families and communities. Meet some of the inspiring leaders who are forging the future of Aurora Family Service.
He is now part of Lauber CFOs, an organization that provides part-time chief financial officers for local businesses. In this role, he serves as CFO for the Women’s Fund, Penfield Childrens Centers and the Planning Council, while also serving as the chairman of the Board of Directors for Aurora Family Service.
How did you get involved with Aurora Family Service?
“I was a member of the Village Adult Services board for six years when they affiliated with Aurora Family Service in 1996. Eventually, Village Adult Day merged into the Aurora Visiting Nurse Association, and the board was collapsed. I joined the Finance Committee of the AFS Board and have now served for almost 17 years.”
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen at Aurora Family Service since 1996?
“The agency has seriously focused its vision. There aren’t as many services and programs as there were in 1996, but at the same time, our current programs and services have become better connected and more effective. ”
“We’ve also become much more cost-efficient at delivering services. Look at a program like Consumer Credit Counseling of Wisconsin, which has seen dwindling support from banks following the recession. We’ve consolidated services and locations, increased our outreach into the community, and zeroed in on our community’s greatest needs. Along the way, we’ve reduced costs and increased our impact.”
What’s your most cherished family tradition?
“I am the fifth of six kids in my family. When my mom needed a break, my dad would take all of us kids downtown on driving tours of the city. We learned so much about architecture and history during those trips. I remember the US Bank tower and the Hoan Bridge being built, and all the redevelopment happening at the lakefront.”
“With 23 cousins, there was always a lot of family around when I was growing up on the Northwest Side. Some cousins have left town since then, but most of my family is still here in Milwaukee.”
What’s the #1 challenge facing Milwaukee families today?
“I grew up in a two-parent family and I was fortunate to provide the same experience for my children. But for many, many Milwaukee families, achieving basic family structure is a major challenge. There are many single, working mothers trying to raise a child alone, and the pressures they endure without a strong support system are unthinkable. How do we help that mother achieve stability for her family?”
“Milwaukee has seen tremendous success in reducing the teen birth rate. Recent reports have shown a landmark low in the number of teenage pregnancies, and I think it’s because we’ve been effective in educating girls at much younger age. We need to be consistent in delivering that education in the future.”
What do you see as Aurora Family Service’s greatest strength?
“We have the luxury of a very dedicated, talented and resourceful staff, combined with very solid leadership in our executive director, Jane Pirsig. Few agencies can match our team’s knowledge, experience and range. Our greatest strength is really the people of Aurora Family Service.”
What’s your vision for the future?
“I foresee us continuing down the path we’ve built over the past five years. We will look at families from all perspectives of wellness: mental, financial and physical. We will continue to improve our service delivery through evaluation, benchmarking and continuous improvement.”
“We always try to showcase the impact of specific programs at our Board meetings by inviting clients to tell their personal stories. Recently, a member of our elder population passionately shared how Aurora Family Service has helped her overcome tragedy. She explained how her teenage nephew lost his life to gun violence, and his death was reported in the media as a dry statistic. She wanted us to remember that every one of those statistics is a human loss, and that we are all affected by each loss a family endures.”
“I was honored and touched to see how we, as an organization, had helped her and her family overcome this great loss. It was the best reminder of our purpose that I could have hoped for. We can never forget that the challenges of Milwaukee, as a city, affect all of us no matter where we live.”
Aurora Family Service helps families overcome challenges, changes and crisis to live well again. We achieve stability and strength for families through counseling, parenting, elder care, financial, career, health and community services. For more information, visit our website, follow us on Facebook, or call 1-414-342-4560.