2005, Lynnea Katz-Petted, CEO of Revitalize Milwaukee,
left a lucrative corporate career to take a part-time
job with the local nonprofit because, she says, “It was
what I needed in my life at that point.” At the time,
the organization was providing free repairs for 10 homes
a year, but she saw the potential to do so much more.
Now, Revitalize Milwaukee works on 340 homes per year,
and, she notes, “The need out there is so incredibly
How does Revitalize
Milwaukee work to build communities?
Our priority goal is to keep people in their homes and revitalize
neighborhoods by providing free home repairs to homeowners ages 60-plus,
veterans and people with disabilities. The folks we’re dealing with are
people who’ve been in their homes for 30 or 40 years, have raised
families, and are finding it hard now to keep up. These are individuals
who really, truly built our city and need our help now. These are people
who have been holding neighborhoods together while everything else fell
apart around them.
What appeals to you,
personally, about Revitalize Milwaukee’s mission?
I am driven to do good, I think. And how that manifests on a day-to-day
basis comes in many forms — sometimes it’s my actual job, sometimes by
mentoring, sometimes by helping somebody or educating somebody or
sometimes by setting someone straight. I feel the work we do is
certainly the hardest job I’ve ever had, there are multiple facets to
it, but I feel it is a true blessing to help the people who need it the
Tell us about
somebody who has been helped.
There is a gentleman who is probably in his late 70s; his wife is in an
assisted care facility. She has dementia, and he’s just crushed by this
because she’s the love of his life. He is in a wheelchair, and he didn’t
have a ramp. So we built him a ramp, so now he can go and see her, go
out and get his newspaper and visit his neighbors. Also, if there was an
emergency, he couldn’t have gotten out of his home without a ramp.
What’s an important
lesson you’ve learned as CEO?
I think our world is an incredible place if you pay attention. There are
lots of opportunities, and there’s magic and beautiful people and
beautiful lessons everywhere we turn. Sometimes we don’t necessarily
take the time to talk to some people in the way that we could. It
doesn’t matter if you’re a janitor or CEO, we’re all the same, and I
have lessons to learn from everybody.
What is the city’s
greatest need right now?
Honest conversation and collaboration. There are more of us who want
“different and more” for our city than those who are trying to keep it
the same. There are lots of opportunity — we just have to keep on
talking and not give up. There are some pretty cool people in our city,
and I think those are the ones who don’t get as much attention as they
Why is mentoring a
priority for you?
I come from a place
of abundance, and I don’t fear helping someone rise up — it’s not only
the right thing to do, it’s the best thing for the community. And I’m
not the only one; there are other people doing great work and mentoring
others as well.
MY FIVE FAVORITE THINGS!
1 Customized stationery
2 Random acts of kindness
4 Making an impact
5 I absolutely love travel and adventure.