Our Board:

The founding board for Milwaukee Excellence consists of a high capacity group of professionals and the experienced educational leadership of Founder and Executive Director Maurice Thomas.  

Founding Board Member, Ben Goetter is Construction Executive with M.A. Mortenson Company. With over 17 years in the construction business, Mr. Goetter has extensive background in strategic planning, financial management, and project management. Mr. Goetter is responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, and overseeing project performance on a number of projects, including the Kohl’s Corporate Support Center in Menomonee Falls, WI. Mr. Goetter holds a BS in Architectural Engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering. 

Founding Board Member, Sam Leichtling is Long Range Planning Manager for the City of Milwaukee, Department of City Development. Mr. Leichtling oversees a variety of strategic planning projects and studies, including developing neighborhood and commercial corridor strategic action plans and supporting the implementation of “Growing Prosperity,” Milwaukee’s economic growth plan. Mr. Leichtling previously managed housing and neighborhood development programs for the City of Milwaukee and has more than a decade of experience in public service. Mr. Leichtling is a Milwaukee Public Schools alum and holds a BA from Carleton College, MA in Urban Planning and MA in Public Administration from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. 

Vice Board Chair & Founding Board Member, Nicole Maassen is Associate Professor at Alverno’s Masters of Business Administration program and has practiced law since 1999. At Alverno, Ms. Maassen designed and taught new MBA courses in negotiation and conflict management and has redesigned business law courses with a unique focus on an abilities-based learning and teaching model. Previously, she worked as Vice President of Litigation and Risk Management at Assurant Health. An active Milwaukee citizen serving as a member of TEMPO Milwaukee, Ms. Maassen was named to the 2013 class of 40 Under 40 by the Milwaukee Business Journal. Ms. Maassen holds a BA and JD, magna cum laude, from the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

Board Chair & Founding Board Member, William Mahler Jr. is an associate with Artisan Partners Asset Management in Milwaukee. Mr. Mahler manages business development and client relations for for the firm’s intermediary clients. Mr. Mahler holds a BA in English from Tufts University and is currently completing his MBA at Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management.

Founding Board Member, Jean Maier is retired Executive Vice President of Operations and Technology at Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance’s corporate headquarters here in Milwaukee. She is a committed and respected member of the Milwaukee community, serving on the Board of Alverno College and City Year Milwaukee. Prior to her business career, Ms. Maier taught for three years after receiving her teacher certification in Preschool and K-8 education. Ms. Maier holds a BA in History from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. 

Founding Board Member, Darren Miller is the President of JM Construction. In his role as President, Mr. Miller develops the strategic vision and manages the finances of the firm. Mr. Miller currently serves the Milwaukee community as a member of the Rotary Club of Downtown Milwaukee. For his efforts to improve the Milwaukee community, Mr. Miller was named to the 2013 class of 40 Under 40 by the Milwaukee Business Journal. Mr. Miller holds a BA and MA in Architecture from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.

Founder & Executive Director, Maurice Thomas is a native of Milwaukee born and raised on the city's north side. Mr. Thomas is a graduate of Rufus King High School and the University of Wisconsin - Madison. At the University of Wisconsin – Madison, he earned degrees in Political Science, Theatre, and a certificate in Women’s Studies. As a 2008 Teach For America corps member, Mr. Thomas taught 11th grade history in Atlanta, GA. He worked relentlessly with faculty members, families, and students to lead many of his high school juniors and seniors to be the first in their family to attend college. In 2010, Mr. Thomas was selected as the national Teach For America Teacher of the Year.  From August 2011 to July 2014, Mr. Thomas worked as the Executive Director of Teach For America – Milwaukee. He recently completed the Building Excellent Schools Fellowship culminating in the charter approval of Milwaukee Excellence.

Treasurer & Founding Board Member, Ranell Washington is Assistant Vice President, Commercial Banking at Town Bank in Milwaukee. Mr. Washington has expertise in real estate appraisals, analyzing various financial statements, and formulating comprehensive plans for retaining, refinancing, or exiting troubled assets, and is an active member of the Milwaukee Urban League Young Professionals. Mr. Washington holds a BA in Finance and Marketing from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. 


Secretary & Founding Board Member, Torrie (T.R.) Williams is Alumni & Student Engagement Coordinator at Milwaukee Public Schools. Previously Ms. Williams worked as the Assistant State Public Defender at the Office of the State Public Defender in Milwaukee. She provided legal support for persons accused of crimes, specifically those that are financially indigent. Additionally, Ms. Williams worked in the Legal Aid Society, one of the nations’ oldest running public interest law firms where she managed over 60 cases and she worked as Campus Partnerships Advisor at the Harlem Children’s Zone, one of the premier charter schools in the nation. Ms. Williams is a Milwaukee native, MPS alumnus, and holds a BA in Political Science and Africana Studies from Vassar College and JD from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. 

General Board Meeting: Milwaukee Excellence Board Meetings are open to the public. Board Meetings occur the 3rd Tuesday of each month at 7:00AM

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
— Gandhi