We’re excited to announce Tom Schneider, Executive Director of COA Youth & Family Centers, won BizTimes Media’s 2020 Nonprofit Executive of the Year Award! The prestigious award was presented by BizTimes Media at their 7th Annual Nonprofit Excellence Awards, held virtually on Friday, November 6, 2020.
Each year, the Nonprofit Executive of the Year Award is given to a Milwaukee nonprofit leader who demonstrates outstanding “vision and innovation” in advancing their nonprofit’s mission. Tom Schneider, who will retire at the end of this year, was honored for his remarkable service as the Executive Director of COA Youth & Family Centers over the past 19 and a half years. During his long tenure, Tom has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to COA’s mission of helping Milwaukee children and families reach their greatest potential.
COA has been serving Milwaukee since 1906. Over the last two decades, COA has experienced unprecedented growth under Tom’s leadership. When Tom first joined COA in 2001, the organization was teetering on bankruptcy. Tom quickly assumed the responsibility of procuring new resources to stabilize and grow COA. In addition to hiring and cultivating a strong staff, Tom built lasting relationships with major funders and significantly grew COA’s revenues. Today, COA employs 190 people and has maintained a balanced budget for 19 years.
Tom has expanded COA’s reach and deepened its impact. Under Tom’s leadership, COA grew from serving 2,000 children and families annually to over 10,000. Tom led efforts to purchase and renovate an abandoned building in Amani, now COA’s beloved Goldin Community Center. COA revitalized Kilbourn-Kadish and Moody Parks, transforming them into welcoming family destinations. Tom’s inspired vision of place-based change led to the creation of a Children’s Hospital Family & Pediatric Clinic, food pantry (in partnership with Hunger Task Force), and the Burke Early Education Center at COA’s Goldin Center – significantly increasing access to quality healthcare, food, and education in an area of the city where none previously existed. The innovative work COA has been doing for years now under Tom’s direction has enabled COA to quickly pivot to emergency response in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. COA’s food pantry has grown by 600% since the onset of the crisis!
While Tom’s professional achievements illustrate his talents as a nonprofit executive, his unwavering dedication to COA staff, children, and families is what truly sets him apart. Accepting his award, Tom thanked COA’s “amazing team” of program staff, maintenance staff, development and finance team, and board of directors – whom Tom credits as “key” to COA’s success. “Finances and outcomes, these things are important, but it’s a passion and joy for serving children and families that really makes an impact,” said Schneider, “I feel that passion and joy every day at COA with our dedicated staff.”
Tom Schneider is driven by a genuine purpose to enrich the lives of Milwaukee families. His commitment to principles of equity, inclusion, community, and kindness inspire those around him to make Milwaukee a better place for us all. While we will miss having Tom as our Executive Director, we are grateful for his 20 years of dedicated service. Thanks to Tom’s leadership, COA Youth & Family Centers will continue serving Milwaukee children and families for generations to come.