OT alum and LSS president Colón named Nonprofit Executive of the Year

In 2017, Héctor Colón became the first Lutheran Social Services CEO who was not a Lutheran minister.

UWM Occupational Therapy alumnus Héctor Colón (MS ’01, BS ‘97) was named Nonprofit Executive of the Year at the 2019 Nonprofit Excellence Awards, for his work as president and CEO of Lutheran Social Services (LSS) of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.

One of the largest nonprofits in the state, LSS hired Colón in 2017 for his experience with managing contracts and budgets and his reputation for innovation. The organization’s seventh CEO, Colón became the first who was not a Lutheran minister. Upon his LSS appointment, Colón said, "As a faith-based, mission-driven organization, LSS’s work to improve people’s lives is impressive and absolutely inspires me."

The other award finalists were Sue Smith, president of Nativity Jesuit Academy and Mike Thirtle, president and CEO of Bethesda Lutheran Communities.

Colón previously was director of the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services. Serving from 2011 to 2017, he led efforts to reform the juvenile justice system, end chronic homelessness, transform mental health care, and end a 30-year wait list for disabilities services.

Earlier this year he was appointed to USA Boxing’s Board of Directors. As a seven-year member of the United States national boxing team, Colón won seven national titles and competed in the 1992 Olympic trials. Colón served as the boxing and mixed martial arts commissioner for the state of Wisconsin from 2009 to 2011.