Three Lubar College of Business alumni were honored at this year’s UWM Alumni Association Awards ceremony, held February 24 at the Pfister Hotel. Congratulations to Jim Ziemer, Patricia Contreras, and Ranell Washington on representing the stellar accomplishments of Lubar alumni, and the impact they make on the business world and our community!
Lifetime Achievement Award
James (Jim) Ziemer (’75 BBA Accounting, ’86 Executive MBA, ’08 Honorary PhD)
Retired CEO, Harley-Davidson
Jim Ziemer began his career as a freight elevator operator at Harley-Davidson and retired 40 years later as president and CEO. In 2007, President George W. Bush appointed him to the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. In addition to volunteer leadership roles with Junior Achievement of Wisconsin and the United Way, Jim has co-chaired UWM’s two comprehensive campaigns, served as President of the Lubar College of Business Advisory Council, and helped lead the School of Education’s Campaign for Excellence. He and his wife, Yvonne, generously supported the College of Nursing’s James & Yvonne Ziemer Clinical Simulation Center, which opened in Fall of 2022.
Patricia Contreras (’00 BBA Finance)
Vice President, Community Impact, Rockwell Automation
Over the past two decades, Patricia Contreras has formed productive relationships aimed at improving quality of life in Milwaukee and influencing public policy at both state and national levels. At Rockwell Automation, she has led community relations, external communications, media relations, government affairs, issues management and corporate responsibility reporting. Through STEM initiatives FIRST Robotics and Project Lead the Way, she has helped provide valuable learning opportunities and career exploration for Milwaukee youth.
Ranell Washington (’05 BBA Finance with Certificate in Real Estate)
Partnership Development Advisor, American Family Insurance
In 2012, Ranell Washington co-founded Social X MKE, an organization that brings together diverse professionals and businesses in the Milwaukee area. He began his role at American Family Insurance’s Office of Community and Social Impact Division in 2019. Ranell currently chairs the board of the Wisconsin Housing Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), which implements low-cost financing programs. He strives to help support UWM’s underrepresented undergraduate students in STEM majors in finding success at UWM and beyond.