Key Staff

Melva Darrough, HR Generalist, 414.933.6161 ext 170

Melva joined Neighborhood House in June of 2017 as the HR Generalist.  Melva comes with extensive experience working in nonprofits; starting in employment services and advancing to human resources management.  Her position titles have included Employment Specialist, HR Assistant, HR Specialist, HR Director and HR Generalist.

Melva volunteers as an assessor at Alverno College and serves on the board for the Association of Volunteer Managers (AVM).   Melva is also an adjunct instructor at Springfield College.

Creating abstract paintings and participating in local juried art exhibitions is something she enjoys doing in her spare time.  She is a member of the Wisconsin Visual Artist Association.

Melva earned a M.S. in management from Cardinal Stritch University as well as a certificate in Human Resources management.  She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Professional Communication from Alverno College.

Niki Espy, Health Initiatives Supervisor, Family Programs, Outdoor & Environmental Education, 414.933.6161 ext 156

Niki has been at Neighborhood House a long time! As an educator, Niki has been an integral part of Neighborhood House’s Environmental Education Programs, and has developed many beneficial relationships with organizations, schools and individual teachers. She has a B.S. in Biology and a passion for teaching people of all ages about the environment. More importantly, she has an extraordinary gift for engaging youth and teaching them critical thinking and problem solving skills that are necessary to succeed in the current marketplace. Niki helps participants understand how their choices affect not only their local neighborhood, but also the global environment. Previously Niki served on the Board of Directors of the Urban Ecology Center of Milwaukee and as an educator for the Milwaukee Public Museum. She has 25 years’ experience working with children and adults in various settings teaching environmental education, including developing lessons and activities for use with the United States Forest Service, Nature’s Classroom Institute, and NH.


Jeff Martinka, Executive Director, 414.933.6161 ext 125

Jeff Martinka began serving as Neighborhood House’s Executive Director in June 2014. In prior positions, he was the founding Executive Director of Sweet Water, an innovative partnership of  environmental groups, local government, and business, working to improve the water resources  in the five greater Milwaukee watersheds. Based at the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences  and supported by major Joyce Foundation grants, Sweet Water is now a national model in watershed-based, multi-jurisdictional environmental work.

Martinka also served as the Executive Director of the West 7th Community Center in St. Paul, MN, a multiservice community center with strong school, family and senior programs. In his tenure at West 7th, the community center greatly expanded family, senior and youth programming and completed a broad variety of facility improvements.  Jeff also served as  Executive Director of Literacy Services of Wisconsin when its volunteer-based adult basic  education programs were housed on Wells Street, just 2 blocks from Neighborhood House. Finally, Jeff worked in management at the Milwaukee County Parks, in Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist’s Office, and at the Milwaukee Department of City Development.

Martinka earned an M.S. in Urban & Regional Planning and an M.A. in Public Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.A. from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Norm McGee, Director of Programs, 414.933.6161 ext 129

As our new Director of Programs, Norm is responsible for Neighborhood House’s (NH) preschool, after school, family services, and refugee programs. He also will play a key outreach and partnership role for the center.

McGee is a Milwaukee native with a long and proven track record of working successfully with area families and youth. Norm was a manager for more than 20 years at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee (B&GC). At the B&GC, he served for 12 years as Director of Program Development, Sports, and Recreation, responsible for programming in 35 B&GC branches in the region. His prior B&GC positions included both Executive Branch Director and Program Director of the Hillside Boys & Girls Club.Norm earned his B.S. from the University of North Dakota under a full scholarship. In addition to his university work, Norm also completed a variety of management training programs through B&GC. He graduated from West Division High School in Milwaukee, where he was State champion in track and field. Norm has served in a variety of volunteer roles in the community, but in particular, supported the United Way of Greater Milwaukee’s campaigns as a sought-after speaker. Norm is a proud husband, father and grandfather and resides on Milwaukee’s northwest side.

Phanomsavanh Sanford, Early Childhood Services Manager, 414.933.6161 ext 139

Phan  has been with Neighborhood House since 2005 and worked in different programs prior to becoming the Early Childhood Services Manager in 2012. Phan has a B.S. in Elementary Education from Cardinal Stritch University.  She oversees the state licensed early care and education and school age program. Her focus is on providing a safe and nurturing learning environment for young children through developmentally appropriate activities. Hear Phan speak with WUWM’s LaToya Dennis about the importance of early childhood education, and share her story with Radio 88nine’s Dori Zori.

Mary Sherman, Teen Program Coordinator, 414.933.6161 ex

Mary Sherman is the Teen Program Coordinator at Neighborhood House of Milwaukee. Mary has worked with youth since she was one! She has worked as a camp counselor, tutor, teen program assistant, and ESL teaching assistant in France before she came to be the Teen Coordinator at Neighborhood House.  Mary graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a Bachelors of Arts in Global Studies and French as well as a Certificate in Peace Studies, a degree that has allowed her to explore her passion for human rights, global issues and community development. The best part of her job, she finds, is seeing the youth discover who they are, helping teens explore their passions, and giving teens new opportunities they would not otherwise try.

Claire Van Fossen, Director of Development, 414.933.6161 ext 127

Claire Van Fossen is a Milwaukee native and nonprofit professional who specializes in fund development, marketing, and nonprofit governance and management. Claire has been doing this work in education-based nonprofits in Milwaukee for 7 years, the last 3 as Director of Development at Neighborhood House. Claire holds a B.A. in Sociology and French Literature from UW-Madison and an M.A. in Nonprofit Management from Marquette University. She also holds a certificate in Nonprofit Economics and Finances from the Helen Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management. Claire serves as the Board President of True Skool Inc.and spends time volunteering in the community outside of her work and Board commitments.

Jerri Washington, Business Office Manager, 414.933.6161 ext 163

Jerri has been with Neighborhood House since April 2001. She has a B.S. in Accounting, an M.B.A, and a Certificate in Human Resource Management program, all from Cardinal Stritch University. She has held the President title of the School Governance Council for  Hawthorne Elementary School and Rufus King International IB Middle School for the past 2 years and is an active participant of Rufus King IB High School PTSO. 

Cynthia Zarazua, Instructional Supervisor  at International Learning Center, 414.344.4777

Cynthia oversees the International Learning Center an educational program of Neighborhood House that teaches adult immigrants and refugees English, Computer, Math and Citizenship skills. Prior to that, she founded, developed and supervised the English as a Second Language program for Literacy Services of Wisconsin and managed Que Pasa Coffee & Books for Esperanza Unida, Inc.  While there, the bookstore was awarded one of ten annual Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy grants to provide inter-generational ESL and literacy classes to Spanish speaking immigrants and their children.  A lover of books, with over 2,000 of them in her home, she has worked in three libraries. Hear Cynthia talk about International Learning Center on this Radio 88nine’s story.