Wendy Weckler Named Interim Hope House Executive Director

Longtime executive director Ken Schmidt provided major impact on homeless programs

MILWAUKEE/Nov. 4, 2014 – The Hope House of Milwaukee board of directors has named Wendy Weckler as interim executive director. Weckler is taking over for Ken Schmidt, who led the organization for 17 years. Weckler has been with Hope House since 2000 and has served in number of capacities, most recently as the deputy director of the emergency and transitional living facility, which is located at 209 W Orchard St. on Milwaukee’s south side.

“We’re fortunate to have someone with Wendy’s experience and knowledge of Hope House during this transition,” said Dan Schley, Hope House board president. “We want to thank Ken for his years of service and commitment to Hope House and Milwaukee’s homeless.”

The board of directors has appointed a special committee to oversee the transition, ascertain the next steps for Hope House and determine how to best address the needs of Milwaukee’s homeless population.

"Ken has been a great leader, and I am honored to follow in his footsteps. At the same time, I eagerly anticipate working with the staff and board to continue our mission," Weckler said.

Schmidt helped establish Hope House in 1987 and was named executive director in 1998. Hope House was created to provide a safe, temporary refuge for people needing a place to sleep. The organization has evolved into a complete provider of services for homeless and low-income individuals.

Schmidt’s accomplishments include

   -   Creating a partnership between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Milwaukee Department of City Development, Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee, and Friends of Housing to renovate a building on the VA grounds (the old Soldier’s Home) and create 13 units of permanent housing for disabled, homeless individuals with a preference for veterans.

   -    Creating a partnership with Mercy Housing Lakefront and Milwaukee County to redevelop the former Johnston Health Center into 91 units of permanent housing for homeless individuals, 41 specifically designated for the chronically homeless.

   -    Directing the agency through a myriad of funding changes into the successful homeless facility and community center that serves more than 15,000 people per year.

“It has been an honor and privilege to serve as the executive director of Hope House. I will always advocate for our community’s most vulnerable citizens, and I’m looking forward to continued involvement in making the Milwaukee area a great place to live for all of its residents,” said Schmidt, who assisted with the leadership transition.

A Farewell to Ken Schmidt

Read a farewell from Ken Schmidt, our executive director, and hear from our new interim director, Wendy Weckler.

Holiday Wishlists Available

Looking to support a child or adult in need this holiday season? You can access the wishlists of our Hope House clients HERE. Contact rachelq@hopehousemke.org  for more information, or to sponsor a family. Note: All donations must be dropped off at Hope House by December 12, and must not be wrapped.


It is the mission of Hope House to end homelessness and create healthy communities.

Hope House is an emergency and transitional living facility as well as a true community center located in the near south side of Milwaukee. Opened in 1987, Hope House was created to provide a safe, temporary refuge for people needing a place to sleep. Over the years, Hope House has evolved into a complete provider of services for homeless and low income individuals. In addition to residential services, Hope House provides community outreach to individuals needing health care, food distribution, financial assistance, and educational opportunities for adults and children. Hope House provides services that aim to end homelessness and create healthy communities.

Hope House wishes to thank the Pentair Foundation for their recent donation of $10,000 for our Chrysalis Program.

Your generous support helps us to fulfill our mission to end homeless and create healthy communities by giving us the means to serve families and individuals in need and provide a comprehensive range of resources and supportive services.

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