UWM Alumni Association announces 2024 awardees

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Alumni Association has announced its 2024 roster of awardees, which includes 11 UWM alumni and partners. The awards ceremony will be at the Pfister Hotel on Friday, Feb. 23. The public is invited, and registrations can be made at give.uwm.edu/awards.

“Our annual awards event puts the spotlight on amazing alumni, from those who have had an impressive start to their careers to those who have had a lifetime of achievements,” said Amy Lensing Tate, executive director of the UWM Alumni Association. “With more than 207,000 alumni living in 110 countries around the world, it can be tough to narrow down our list to just 11 honorees. This group of history-making awardees is working hard to make our city – and the world – a better place.”

The awards ceremony is emceed by alumnus Gale Klappa, executive chairman of WEC Energy Group. Klappa graduated from UWM in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication and earned an honorary doctorate from the university in 2011 for his career accomplishments, his service to UWM and his leadership role in Milwaukee 7, an organization created to attract, retain and expand businesses in our region.

Chancellor Mark Mone and UWM Alumni Association Board Chair Michelle Putz will present the awards. “I am excited to be part of an event that recognizes how hard our alumni have worked and their devotion to their chosen career paths,” said Putz, owner and president of PTZ Consulting. Putz holds two degrees from UWM: a bachelor’s degree in nursing and an MBA. “Our alumni are taking the educational foundation they received at UWM and building careers that are having a huge impact in so many fields. This ceremony is all about celebrating their accomplishments.”

This year’s slate of awardees includes the following people and organizations.

Exemplary Alumni Service Award (recognizes alumni volunteers whose leadership has benefited UWM)

Jackie Fredrick

Jacquelyn (Jackie) Fredrick, retired CEO of Versiti and BloodCenter of Wisconsin, holds two degrees from UWM: an executive MBA from the Lubar College of Business and an honorary doctorate given jointly by the Lubar College of Business and the Zilber College of Public Health. Fredrick has brought 35 years of executive experience to her roles on several boards, including the Business Advisory Council at the Lubar College of Business, the UWM Foundation (serving as chair from 2015 to 2016) and the UWM Research Foundation Board (serving as chair, vice chair and treasurer).

Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award (honors alumni whose careers have set the pace for future leaders)

Chantell Jewell

Chantell Jewell, superintendent for Milwaukee County’s Community Reintegration Center, graduated from the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. She went on to earn an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University and has taught at Marquette, Concordia and Mount Mary universities. Jewell served at the Wisconsin Department of Corrections for more than 20 years, and in 2020, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley appointed her as superintendent of the Milwaukee County Community Reintegration Center, formerly known as the House of Correction.

Sal Miosi

Salvatore (Sal) Miosi, president and chief operating officer of MGIC, earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from the Lubar College of Business. Miosi has worked for MGIC for 35 years, rising to leadership positions in technology, operations, marketing and strategy. He serves on the Business Advisory Council at the Lubar College of Business, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, Community Development Alliance and Fannie Mae Affordable Housing Advisory Council. He also volunteers in the Lubar College’s Multicultural Mentoring Program.

Impact Award (highlights alumni who are improving their communities)

Carla Cross

Carla Cross, president and CEO of Cross Management Services Inc., received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from the Lubar College of Business. She launched her own construction management firm and consulting company in 1996. In her leadership role, she coordinates and monitors supplier and workforce diversity inclusion on construction projects to ensure the workforce represents the community. Her projects have included Lambeau Field, American Family Field, Fiserv Forum, the world headquarters of Manpower and GE Healthcare, as well as UWM’s Cambridge Commons and Kenilworth building.

Jan Wilberg

Janice (Jan) Wilberg, a community volunteer, earned two graduate degrees from the College of Letters & Science: a master’s degree in urban affairs and a doctorate in urban studies. Wilberg’s 45-year career included anti-poverty work with the Social Development Commission, grants coordination with Milwaukee County, and independent consulting with over 60 nonprofit organizations and governmental units. In retirement, Wilberg serves on the board of Street Angels Inc., including five years as its president, and is beginning her second terms as chair of the Milwaukee County Commission on Aging.

Honorary Alumni Award (reserved for a friend with deep loyalty to UWM)

Julilly Kohler

Julilly Kohler is president of Kane Place LLC and a trustee for the Wm. Collins Kohler Foundation. In 2019, she facilitated a gift from her foundation to establish an endowed professorship in memory of her brother and his kindness, intellect and passion for peace. The gift also supported the creation of UWM’s Institute for Systems Change and Peacebuilding, which cultivates deep and evolving dialogue among diverse community members, university faculty, students and alumni. Graduate students in this program work with nonprofit organizations to tackle complex issues and improve outcomes.

University Partner Award (recognizes an organization with a major impact on UWM alumni)

The Zilber Family Foundation is a private, independent grantmaking institution founded in 1961 by Joseph J. Zilber, founder of Zilber Ltd., a residential and commercial real estate firm. In 2007, Joe Zilber announced a $10 million gift to create UWM’s Zilber College of Public Health, Wisconsin’s only nationally accredited college of public health. Since then, hundreds of students have graduated from the college. In July 2023, the Zilber Family Foundation gave an additional $20 million to support the Zilber College; it was the largest gift in UWM’s history.

Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) Award (honors alumni with an impressive start to their careers)

Brice Christianson

Brice Christianson, a professional sports American Sign Language interpreter, holds a bachelor’s degree in education from the School of Education. In 2020, Brice launched the business P-X-P, which stands for “play by play,” with the goal of making sporting events accessible and inclusive for Deaf and hard of hearing fans. Christianson is believed to have made history by becoming the first North American professional sports sign language interpreter when he began interpreting for the Milwaukee Bucks in 2019. He has also interpreted for the National Hockey League and the National Women’s Soccer League.

Michael Emem

Michael Emem, president and CEO of Emem Group, holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and a certificate in real estate from the Lubar College of Business. In 2013, he became construction director of Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity and was named to the 40 Under 40 list by the Milwaukee Business Journal. He began the Emem Group in 2018, while he was a student at UWM, to create socially responsible real estate projects in areas that have historically been disadvantaged. A Milwaukee native, he has managed well over $100 million in construction and development projects.

Juan Orjuela

Juan Orjuela, a veterinarian, got his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and conservation & environmental science from the College of Letters & Science. He went on to pursue his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph. There, he co-founded the nonprofit Latinx Veterinary Medical Association, which encourages Latinx people to pursue veterinary medicine as a career. With the support of some of the largest companies in the industry, Latinx VMA offers student scholarships, a mentorship program and support for student chapters throughout North America.

Nyesha Stone

Nyesha Stone, founder and public relations director of Carvd N Stone, earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism, advertising & media studies from the College of Letters & Science. Her business, which she launched while she was still a student at UWM, provides positive stories and positive branding that represents Black and Brown communities. Her clients include Safe and Sound, Quad/Graphics and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. With a desire to empower the next generation of Black and Brown media, Stone established a scholarship program for young creatives.