Join us for a live Café Conversation with Joaquin Altoro, the CEO of WHEDA (Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority); May yer “mine-za” Thao, Assistant Deputy Director at WHEDA and former Executive Director of the Hmong Chamber of Commerce; and Kristen Hardy, Counsel, Global Compliance & Integrity Manager at Briggs & Stratton as we discuss what’s happening in Milwaukee and across our country right now.
Governor Tony Evers appointed Mr. Joaquín Altoro as WHEDA’s CEO and Executive Director effective June 3, 2019. Mr. Altoro has an extensive, 28-year banking career in both residential and commercial lending. Most recently, he served as Town Bank’s Vice President of Commercial Banking. At Town Bank, he successfully utilized federal Housing Tax Credits to advance affordable housing options in Southeastern Wisconsin.
Throughout his career, Mr. Altoro has served on numerous boards and advisory committees to help rural and urban populations meet their unique economic development needs. While a board member for Forward Community Investments (FCI), he advised on the CDFI’s loan fund investments in education, health, housing and entrepreneurship to help build strong communities throughout the state. Furthermore, he served on FCI’s New Markets Tax Credit committee to bring additional investment resources to the state of Wisconsin.
Mr. Altoro has been an expert panel speaker for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago educating bankers on successful community development strategies on a local and a national level. He has also been an instructor at the Center for Financial Training, a continuing education program for bankers. His engaged, high-energy approach and previous entrepreneurial experience complements a strong business/ quantitative acumen for advising community bankers across Wisconsin.
As a former City Plan Commissioner for the City of Milwaukee, Mr. Altoro understands Milwaukee’s dynamic community and is well acquainted with diverse neighborhoods in order to serve their socioeconomic and affordable housing needs. As CEO, Mr. Altoro is strategically positioning WHEDA to leverage affordable housing in a more holistic way to attract new businesses and encourage existing businesses to grow. His multi-faceted banking expertise, successful track record of establishing public-private partnerships, and unique approach on advising community development will advance WHEDA’s mission throughout urban and rural Wisconsin.
Mr. Altoro is a member of the Governor’s Interagency Council on Homelessness; board president of the WHEDA Foundation, Inc.; a board member of Lift Wisconsin, a Community Development Entity; a board member for the National Council of State Housing Agencies; a member of the Community Investment Advisory Council for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago; and an advisory board member for LISC Milwaukee.
Mr. Altoro has a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Cardinal Stritch University. He has been recognized as one of the nation’s top 100 Business Journal Influencers for Finance and as one of the Milwaukee Business Journal’s 2019 Power Brokers. He has received the “Be the Change” award from the Milwaukee Urban League and has been recognized as a “Milwaukee Game Changer,” by MKElifestyle magazine.
May yer "mine-za" Thao
Governor Tony Evers appointed May yer Thao as WHEDA’s Assistant Deputy Director effective September 2019.
For five years, Thao was the executive director for the Hmong Wisconsin Chamber where she deployed the most business loans in its history and increased its revenues three-fold. She opened the Chamber’s first satellite office in Wausau, Wisconsin; piloted a bilingual/bicultural Hmong financial literacy curriculum; and helped launched young professional groups throughout the state. Thao was awarded the 2019 Professional Dimensions Sacagawea Award, a prestigious honor recognizing exceptional leadership by “Women who Inspire.”
I am Legal Counsel (Global Compliance) at Briggs & Stratton Corporation (Fortune 1000), the world’s largest producer of gasoline engines for outdoor power equipment, and a leading designer, manufacturer, and marketer of construction and agricultural products, servicing customers in over 100 countries and six continents. My expertise includes corporate legal compliance, international trade/sanction law, anti-bribery/anti-corruption (FCPA), and internal investigations. My experience also includes training/policy development and counseling related to code of conduct matters. I enjoy collaborating with colleagues to enhance processes, mitigate issues, and minimize risk, all with an eye towards fostering an ethical company culture for current and future employees, suppliers, and customers.
Outside of work, I am involved with several organizations that align squarely with my values and interests. I am the Immediate Past-President of the Wisconsin Association of African-American Lawyers, and serve as a board member for the Milwaukee Bar Association, LOTUS Legal Clinic and the Milwaukee Debate League. In 2019, I was appointed by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers to the Judicial Selection Advisory Committee. I am also a Wisconsin Supreme Court appointee to the Wisconsin Lawyer Regulation System's Preliminary Review Committee.
In 2015, my passion for helping professional women build and grow their networks led to the creation of the networking organization, Brunch of Professionals. As the visionary and co-founder, my goal is to connect women and foster meaningful conversations centered around professional and personal development. These conversations take place over monthly brunches at restaurants throughout Milwaukee.
I have been fortunate enough to be recognized by my peers through various awards, including Milwaukee Business Journal's 40 Under 40 (2019), Up and Coming Lawyer (2019), and Milwaukee Business Journal's Top Corporate Counsel: Rising Star (2019).