Leana Nakielski is the development director of the Greater Milwaukee Committee. She directs resource development strategy with the president, team leaders, members and partners to identify and attract local and national investment in support of GMC’s social impact initiatives that advance economic prosperity, innovation and talent, and vibrant communities in the Greater Milwaukee region. Initiatives include Scale Up Milwaukee, an economic ecosystem to accelerate business growth including the 6-month long Growth Accelerator for companies with $1M-$10M in annual revenues and the 4-month long SPARC program for companies with $100K-$1M in annual revenues; MKE United, a 10-year vision for inclusive and equitable economic development for Milwaukee’s downtown and adjoining neighborhoods; The Commons, a talent development and retention initiative fostering entrepreneurialism in university students from the 24 regional HEIs and connecting them with corporations through a 9-week Skills Accelerator program; the Beerline Trail Neighborhood Development Project, a creative placemaking project; and, K-12 initiatives such as the teacher retention program, Teachtown MKE, and the Bradley Tech High School, implementing hands-on and dual enrollment opportunities in STEAM curriculum including tech and the trades. Regarding membership, develop relationships and engage members in these initiatives and direct GMC member activities, including membership meetings & special events focused on relevant business and civic issues that drive equitable, economic development and make Milwaukee the best place to live, learn, work, play and stay. Staff the Board of Directors and Membership-Nominating Committee in support of GMC Member leadership.
Prior to joining the GMC, Leana served as the director of operations at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and previously as the director of community resources at Highland Community School, a parent-directed Montessori public school on Milwaukee’s inner city westside, where her three children attend. Before launching the development program at Highland over three years, Leana worked for the urban agricultural non-profit Growing Power for nearly a decade (2003-2013) in various roles, from intern to Latino Community Liaison to Development Manager from 2008-2013. Leana is passionate about equitable and inclusive community development as it relates to the environment, food system, and economics, including aspects such as labor, emerging technology, energy consumption, health, and education. She is a proud double badger with a B.S. in International Agriculture and Natural Resources (Agriculture & Applied Economics emphasis) and executive MBA from the UW-Madison. Her education and work has provided Leana with a diverse and solid foundation of knowledge and experience in community development, including sustainable food systems development, personal and public health, education, workforce development, and business development.
Leana serves on the board of directors for the Urban Ecology Center and is the board president for Highland Community School. She is a member of TEMPO, the Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee and is participating in United Way’s Partnership MKE program. She is a co-organizer of the Milwaukee Blockchain Meetup, convening other thought leaders in this space and fostering greater communication in the application of Blockchain and emerging tech. She was born in Milwaukee and continues to live in the city with her family.