By Press Release Submitted to Published Apr 16, 2015 at 1:56 PM

Photos from the MANDI Awards are here.

The Milwaukee Awards for Neighborhood Development Innovation (MANDI) highlight the unsung heroes working to revitalize Milwaukee’s most distressed urban neighborhoods. Last night, winners were announced at an Oscar-style gala  to a crowd of 840 people at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino.

Presented by Cecelia Gore, Executive Director, Brewers Community Foundation, the Brewers Community Foundation Public Space Award was given to HOME GR/OWN’s Ezekiel Gillespie Park.

The Brewers Community Foundation Public Space Award recognizes a public space that helps build the community. Ezekiel Gillespie Park was developed in partnership with Walnut Way Conservation Corp. This multi-use park –the first of the city’s HOME GR/OWN strategy for transforming vacant lots – features native plants, fruit trees and sustainable water systems.

Presented by Paul Fehrenbach, Vice President and Community Investments, BMO Harris Bank, the BMO Harris Bank Cornerstone Award was given to the Rotary Club of Milwaukee.

The BMO Harris Bank Cornerstone Award recognizes an organization for their commitment and effectiveness over time. The Rotary Club of Milwaukee has a long-standing commitment to Milwaukee, playing an active role in the revitalization of some of the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods and people.

Presented by Jamie Reeve III, Vice President, Northern Trust, the Northern Trust Navigator Award was given to Venice Williams of Alice’s Garden.

The Northern Trust Navigator Award recognizes an individual for leadership and collaboration. Venice fosters an environment at Alice’s Garden where people not only exchange gardening knowledge, but share their lives.

Presented by Eugene Manzanet, Vice President, PNC Bank, the PNC Trail Blazer Award was given to Sisters Diversion Project, Benedict Center.

The PNC Trail Blazer Award recognizes an innovative approach to a community problem. The Sisters Diversion Project, working in conjunction with police and prosecutors, offers an alternative to incarceration to stop the cycle of prostitution.

Presented by Michael Reid, Sales Leader, State Farm, the State Farm Building Blocks Award was given to The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health.

The State Farm Building Blocks Award recognizes a real estate project that advances the community. Transformed from a 100-year old cold storage warehouse in the Pabst Brewery, the Zilber School of Public Health has reinvigorated this historic area and become a trusted community partner in improving health outcomes for Milwaukee.

Presented by Sang Kim, Regional President, Wells Fargo, the Wells Fargo People’s Choice Award was given to Cream City Gardens and Rain Harvesting Project, Guest House of Milwaukee; Sisters Diversion Project, Benedict Center; Express Yourself Milwaukee.

The Wells Fargo People’s Choice Award is a brand new interactive award category where the winner is chosen by the public through an online voting system. The three groups who received the most votes received $1000.

Presented by Mayor Tom Barrett, the Vision Award was given to Leo Ries.

Leo Ries was recognized with the Vision Award for his work with LISC, partnerships created in Milwaukee communities and revitalization of Milwaukee neighborhoods. Leo was recognized with the award as he is stepping down as Executive Director of LISC Milwaukee.

The MANDI’s are similar to the Oscar awards in that winners are selected by peers, and each finalist is profiled with a two-minute video vignette at the event. A Selection Committee reviews nominations, chooses finalists, visits each finalist and selects winners. was a sponsor of the MANDI event.