Entrepreneur, Advocate, Alverno Student

If you hear people talking about revitalizing Milwaukee, there’s a good chance they’re talking about Melissa Goins.

For more than a decade, Goins — a current Alverno graduate student — has focused the energy of her Maures Development Group LLC in her hometown of Milwaukee. Her work as a developer of multimillion-dollar projects has brought new attention and vibrancy to communities on the city’s north side that have long been overlooked.

Whether it’s building modern, livable and affordable apartment housing in those previously ignored neighborhoods or spearheading the high-profile development of a new home for America’s Black Holocaust Museum, Goins’ work has a clear community-service component. What drives her, she says, is “being able to turn this perceived blight and, in some cases, real blight into something that [helps] people to understand that they are worthy.”

In addition to the numerous professional honors Goins has received, she has also been recognized for her service. Last month, the United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County declared Goins one of its Philanthropic 5 for 2017, an annual award given to five community leaders in southeastern Wisconsin.

“Melissa definitely rose to the top” thanks to her impactful career and advocacy for a number of charitable causes, says Angela Quigley, co-chair of the United Way committee that selected the winners.

Goins began her career as a correctional officer, later sergeant, for the State of Wisconsin and also worked as an entertainment assistant for the Milwaukee Brewers. She found a new path after she attended a commercial real estate program at Marquette University, eventually founding Maures Development in 2006.

Eleven years and one MBA later, Goins and Maures are going strong. She is leading a long-awaited project to construct a new home for the Black Holocaust Museum, which seeks to educate the public about the lasting impact of slavery and advocates for healing. The approximately $17 million project, which broke ground earlier this year in Milwaukee’s Bronzeville neighborhood, involves the conversion of a former elementary school into mixed-income housing and the construction of new housing and commercial space.

Nevertheless, Goins says she has embraced another direction for her career path, which is what brought her to Alverno. She’s enrolled in the Master of Science in Community Psychology program because it offers her a new means of supporting people.

“In this day and age, where there’s trauma everywhere you turn, there’s no lack of demand,” she says.

Goins says she appreciates Alverno’s long legacy of educating women, evident in even the smallest details around campus, such as the mirrors that proclaim “this is what a strong woman looks like.”

I “am very happy with calling Alverno home,” adds Goins.

Alverno’s mission of community service speaks to Goins, whose educational and career experiences she says are united by a common theme: “my care and my concern for people.”

Goins is currently supporting the Blood Center of Wisconsin to drive awareness of the need for blood and marrow donors. It’s a cause that’s dear to the mother of three — youngest child Evelyn, who turns two next month, was born with a blood disorder that has required multiple blood transfusions.

“It was all new information with me,” she says, of how the donation process works and how people rely on these gifts for life-saving treatment. “I wanted to share it with the world.”

Goins’ advocacy on behalf of her daughter and others is something that can inspire us all, adds United Way’s Quigley.

“Everybody has their battles. Everybody is going through things in their lives. When people use those situations and challenges in their life to help others and help people they may not even know, that’s extremely admirable,” says Quigley.

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