As executive director, Lilith gets to draw on her passion for great urban environments. She enjoys the many puzzles that come with the two sides of her job: revitalizing a complicated and challenging district and building an organization from scratch. In her work, Lilith relies on the perspectives and communication skills she gained living and travelling in other cities and countries; the tools and frameworks garnered from a liberal arts education and an MBA; and the balance between patience and push that she strives to master as a mother.
Her career has focused on the intersection of business, community, and environment, from helping Mexican farmer co-ops obtain organic certification, to building Milwaukee’s Menomonee Valley into a model for sustainable development. Lilith lives in a decommissioned firehouse on the east side of Milwaukee with her husband and two children.
Aaron Zeleske is the Natural Environment Program Manager at Harbor District, Inc. Aaron leads our efforts to improve the ecological functioning of our corner of the city, focusing on improving habitat for fish and wildlife and green infrastructure practices that improve water quality. He works on several habitat restoration projects on the Kinnickinnic River, manages innovative projects like the Habitat Hotels and Trash Collector, and seeks to creatively incorporate environmental principles into everything happening in the Harbor. Through these projects and programs that connect people to nature, Aaron works to change how people think about and relate to the plants and animals with whom we share our city and our world. “This is some of the most important work we as a species need to undertake in the coming decades. We must learn to balance our needs with the needs of other living things like climate change and Anthropocene mass extinctions pick up steam. Even our developed, industrial harbor can be enhanced as a better functioning part of the ecosystems inside of which every human activity is nested, and improving its ecology will make a difference.”
Prior to joining Harbor District in 2019, Aaron spent over seven years working at Milwaukee environmental organizations, River Revitalization Foundation and Urban Ecology Center. He has a Masters in Nonprofit Management from Marquette University, where he was a recipient of the Trinity Fellowship. Outside of work, Aaron is a ceramic artist and avid cyclist and outdoorsman.
Melony Pederson has over sixteen years of experience designing and managing projects all over the country. She’s had the opportunity to work for large architecture firms, boutique design firms and independently throughout her career. In her dedication to helping create a more equitable, healthy and sustainable built environment she shifted to development work after graduating from the University of Washington’s MSRE program after which she worked to create attainable housing within America’s largest land conservancy.
Outside of the development world she’s an active member in her community previously serving on City Council for Sumner, WA as well as several boards and has a true passion for sustainability. Melony moved back to the Milwaukee after spending sixteen years in the Seattle area and excited to continue working on the built environment in her hometown.
Natalia Hernandez joins our staff as the Outreach Specialist for Harbor District, Inc. Her role is to inform and engage nearby residents, community members, and other stakeholders in the development of the Harbor District as well as developing and managing events and school programs.
Natalia holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in International Studies and Human Resources Management. During her time at Whitewater, Natalia worked on a number of projects, one of which she spent time in Thailand researching the rights of Indigenous tribes and Women. In her spare time, Natalia serves on the Advisory Board for a Milwaukee-based organization called The Kellogg PEAK Initiative. She also helps run her parent’s grocery store/carry-out restaurant located on 14th and Greenfield in Milwaukee’s South Side. Natalia enjoys spending time with her family, being on the water or in the garden, and traveling around the world. She is a strong advocate for community inclusion and believes in the amazing outcome that will come out of the revitalization of the harbor.
Judy Krause is the Finance Manager for Harbor District, Inc. She is the Principal Consultant of Judy Krause Consulting, LLC, a fiscal and project management firm specializing in nonprofit and community-focused clients. She has over 20 years of experience as a nonprofit finance professional and previously worked as the Director of Finances and Operations at Urban Ecology Center. As a consultant, Judy works with organizations to increase fiscal knowledge, ensure strong financial operations, and improve planning.
Judy is a Certified Nonprofit Accounting Professional through the National Association of Nonprofit Accountants & Consultants. She received her Bachelor of Science from Knox College in Economics. She is a fourth-degree black belt and certified instructor in ATA taekwondo. She enjoys exploring local, state, and national parks on foot throughout the seasons.
Katie Stensberg is the Office Manager at the Harbor District, Inc. Her primary roles are to keep office operations running smoothly and serve as an assistant to Lilith Fowler, Executive Director. Katie is a graduate of UW-Milwaukee and has an extensive background in Marketing and Advertising. When not at work, Katie is an artist and can be found enjoying nature.