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.
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.
As the Strategic Partnerships Manager for HDI Stephanie is focused on connecting people to opportunities within the Harbor District. From fundraising to friend-raising she connects partners to projects. Her expertise in corporate sponsorships solicitation, public relations, outreach, event planning, and marketing serves the collaborative Harbor District team. She brings the fund to HDI’s signature event, Harbor Fest, and smaller events like the BID 51 Business Socials.
Outside of work, she spends time on the basketball court as coach mom, in the board rooms of various BIDs and in the think tanks of several Milwaukee start-ups. She loves city neighborhoods, big ideas and sharing coffee.
She is a graduate of DePaul University and the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
Marcus Carriaga is a member of the Ho-chunk Nation. He is a Public Ally looking to make a connection with the local Native American community. He is currently conducting a tree survey; you can find him identifying trees around the Harbor District. Marcus is looking to gather information, including stores and pictures of the area. He is working on locating key spots in and around the Harbor District to enhance HDI software. Marcus enjoys his work because he appreciates talking to people and expanding his knowledge. In his free time, he likes beading, Indigenous drum making, and playing basketball.