Playworks Names New Executive Director, Joel Peterson, To Lead Wisconsin Regional Team & Advisory Board

February 05, 2019
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1/31/2019— Playworks Wisconsin welcomes Joel Peterson as the new Executive Director taking over after the departure of Deborah Lukovich, who was an active member of the transition team. Joel comes to Playworks from the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha where he served as the Manager of Diversity Development and Community Engagement since 2016.  
Joel will serve as the main public contact for the Playworks in the region, working with community, education and corporate leaders to leverage safe and healthy play as a positive force for systems change in schools. A focus of Joel’s will be to lead the organization’s fundraising and community engagement strategies in partnership with  our local advisory board. These efforts serve to support of Playworks Wisconsin’s aim to bring the researched and evidence-based benefits of safe and healthy play to 200 schools by the end of 2020. Joel will lead a local team that delivers programming in 28 schools in Milwaukee, Waukesha, and Watertown reaching over 10,000 students daily.
"We are proud to welcome Joel to the team.” states Billie Smith, Playworks Advisory Board member who also served on the search committee. ”He brings a wealth of skills and knowledge to our organization at a very exciting time in Playworks' evolution. Demand for services is high, program quality is strong, and we are poised to scale our impact significantly in the coming year."
Joel Peterson is an experienced nonprofit leader with a demonstrated history of serving people.  Having an expertise in youth development and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Joel is committed to human flourishing for ALL.  After graduating from Howard University in Washington D.C. in 2004, he began his career as a school counselor for a Milwaukee Public School Charter School. While serving the youth of Milwaukee through education, Joel received his Masters and Doctorate degrees in theology with an emphasis in family counseling. In 2012, Mr. Peterson accepted a position with the YMCA of Greater Milwaukee as the Director of Emerging Leaders, where he lead the youth of Milwaukee in social and emotional learning as well as college readiness and post-secondary planning.
“I am expressly grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from some inspiring and phenomenal leaders within and connected to the United Way during my leadership journey,” states Joel on his path to Playworks. “As my journey continues, I look forward to serving an organization whose mission and vision align with my beliefs as we concertedly leverage the power of play to increase social emotional learning in every child.“
Playworks’ mission is to improve the health and well-being of children by increasing opportunities for physical activity and safe, meaningful play. Playworks is the leading nonprofit in Wisconsin, and nationally, to leverage play as a tool to promote healthy behaviors, increase social emotional learning, and improve school climate.  Playworks’ vision is that one day every child in America will have access to safe, fun, healthy play every day. Our 2020 expansion goal is that 3.5 million children at 7,000 schools enjoy safe and healthy play every day. In Wisconsin our goal is 100,000 children at 250 elementary schools.