Awake Milwaukee is pleased to share terrific news: we recently doubled the size of our Board of Directors, welcoming five new directors this spring.
“The Lord has sent us some amazing people,” says Elizabeth Zimmer, president of Awake’s board. “I’m so excited for the wisdom, skills, and resources they’ll bring to Awake through their board service. Their expertise adds strength to our governing body and puts us in position to develop solid plans for the future.”
The new directors join Zimmer and Jerri von den Bosch, as well Deirdre Dempsey, Shelly Roder, and Elaine Steele, who joined Awake’s board in April 2021. Steele recently took on the role of board secretary, a position previously held by von den Bosch.
A grassroots nonprofit organization independent of any parish or the archdiocese, Awake Milwaukee was founded in 2019 to awaken our community to the full reality of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and work for transformation and healing throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and beyond.
We are happy to introduce our newest directors.
A Chicago native who was raised Catholic, Conlin began attending an evangelical Protestant church with her future husband while they were students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The couple married, and after graduation moved to northern Wisconsin, where Conlin’s husband served as youth pastor at a Baptist church. When they moved to Milwaukee so he could earn a graduate degree in theology, the couple committed to Catholicism. Around the same time, Conlin met Jerri von den Bosch, member of the Awake Leadership Team and Board of Directors. “I became aware of Awake through Jerri’s involvement and was drawn to its work,” Conlin says. “I have a heart for survivors and want to make a difference in the community I committed myself to.” Conlin and her husband attend the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. She believes her position as a new Catholic gives her a valuable perspective on the abuse crisis. Conlin works in human resources and has three cats: Dante, Stella, and Phoebe.
Brosnan is an employment and immigration attorney and partner at a Milwaukee law firm. She lives on the East Side of Milwaukee with her husband Rob, their two children, and dog, Tilly. “I am a lifelong Catholic and dedicated to our Catholic community in Milwaukee,” she says. “It is my honor to be on the Awake Board and assist this important organization in their work to provide comfort, counseling, and consolation to victims of clergy abuse.” An avid reader of historical fiction, Brosnan also loves theater. “I appreciate Awake’s community of concerned and faithful Catholics,” she says, “dedicated to doing something constructive about this crisis in our Church.”
Hansen is the product of 16 years of Catholic school, graduating from college at the University of Notre Dame. “My faith has been an important part of my life, and I went to law school to pursue a career advocating for those most in need,” she explains. Hansen currently works for a nonprofit focused on reforming the child welfare system to better support children and families. She and her husband remain committed to Catholic education; their three children attend St. Robert School in Shorewood, their parish school. “I’m so excited to be part of a community fully committed to supporting the victims,” Hansen says, “and all those struggling with their faith as a result.”
Ingrilli initially joined Awake Milwaukee in 2019 as a member of the Leadership Team. “I became involved in Awake after my great-uncle was listed in the Green Bay Diocese’s list of credibly accused priests,” she explains. “I truly believe that Awake will help evangelize Catholics,” because “many have been disappointed and frustrated at the response of the Catholic Church to clergy abuse,” she says. Mother to three sons, Ingrilli is a member of St. Joseph Parish in Wauwatosa and works in finance. She is famous for her holiday baking. “During the Christmas season, I generally go through about 20 pounds of flour making cookies,” she says. “With three boys in the house, cookies do not last long.”
A father of six who is retired after a 35-year career in business, Kessenich lives with his wife in Appleton, where they are members of St. Bernard Catholic Church. He also is a victim-survivor of clergy abuse. Kessenich originally intended to become a priest, entering St. Francis de Sales Seminary in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in 1965. After leaving St. Francis de Sales and attending Catholic University in Washington, D.C., Kessenich earned two master’s degrees, one in pastoral studies from Loyola University Chicago, and another in organizational development from Silver Lake College in Manitowoc. He discovered Awake through a conversation with a fellow victim-survivor. “I think that Awake is doing important work for the Milwaukee church and beyond,” he says, “and I want to lend my expertise and personal experience to benefit a hurting Church. My personal experience as a victim-survivor has led me to the conviction that the Church’s role is to be a field hospital for all of those hurting in our society, regardless of the specific way in which they have been hurt.”