Transforming Education in Milwaukee During YPWeek

By Michelle Burmeister, Communications Director

This morning PAVE joined a group of young professionals and other school support organizations at YPWeek’s “Transforming Education in Milwaukee” event at the University Club. The 6th floor at the U Club was completely full and buzzing with interest waiting for MPS superintendent Dr. Gregory Thornton to speak. As a nonprofit sponsor of the event, PAVE had the opportunity to set-up a table and talk to people about who we are and what we do. That’s me in the photo, sipping some coffee and gearing up for invigorating conversations (of which there were many!).

Transforming Education in Milwaukee


We’ve done a few of these types of events in the past year and I always walk away from them energized and hopeful that education in Milwaukee will improve because so many people genuinely care. Dr. Thornton made a plethora of notable comments and one of his overall messages was that our kids need us to actually get involved. To reference his sports analogy, we have to do more than put on the uniform, but actually get it dirty, and in the case of education in Milwaukee, we need to get it really dirty before we’ll see more progress.

I love the community support at these types of events and it’s reassuring to know that groups of influential leaders like The Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 have identified education as the most important issue facing Milwaukee, but listening to speakers at events and agreeing that education is the number one issue isn’t going to solve any problems. What is your approach to improving education in Milwaukee? How have you gotten involved or how do you want to get involved?

In case you need some guidance, in addition to PAVE, we’re fortunate to have many other awesome school support organizations in this city – Schools That Can Milwaukee, City Year, Teach for AmericaBoys and Girls Clubs, Junior Achievement, and the list goes on… The links will take you to their Web sites for more information.


Governance As Interesting?

By Michelle Burmeister, Communications Director

I started working for PAVE nearly two years ago, when the organization was gearing up to launch Board Corps. Interviewing for a marketing and public relations position, I was prepared to answer some of the typical questions about how to get media exposure for the organization and what are my ideas for using social platforms, etc. But, the main focus of the interview was “How will you make ‘governance’ interesting?” This has been my guiding mantra ever since.

I was not extremely well-versed in “governance” when I started at PAVE and I vaguely understood it’s importance based on my interview, but now, nearly two years later, I’m truly a believer in governance done well, because I’ve seen how an effective and dedicated board of directors can transform a school’s leadership and create positive and sustainable change.

PAVE Milwaukee Governance and Leadership

Have I accomplished the goal of making governance interesting? We’ve seen a great response to our recruitment efforts for Board Corps, so we’re clearly on the right path to explaining the important roles that governance and leadership have in improving and sustaining high-potential schools. But, I’m continuously working on it, along with the rest of my team. Part of the challenge is using language that is universally relate-able and doesn’t have skewed connotations (i.e. government). Equating governance with leadership, vision and oversight, as opposed to power, dictating and laws, helps to change the conversation about what a non-profit or school board of directors should be doing to champion the mission and achieve the vision of the organization.

Explaining what governance actually is, and showing through examples that it’s interesting and important, is an ongoing process of educating Milwaukee’s professional community and schools. It’s a goal that PAVE needs to continue focusing on in order to achieve our mission of making excellent educational opportunities possible for Milwaukee families. Stay tuned for many more posts about governance on The PAVE Blog…

What is your understanding of governance in a volunteer board setting? How have your professional experiences shaped your understanding of board leadership?