About MCFI

Since 1938, the Milwaukee Center for Independence (MCFI) has developed innovative approaches to assist people with disabilities, disadvantages, serious mental illness, and employment barriers to better live, work and be a part of the community.

Speaking for the entire team, I can say unequivocally that we found your organization to be exceptional in terms of service quality and its commitment to realizing its mission.

‐ George Molano
CARF SURVEYOR

President & CEO

Play Video
Jewish Vocational Service outdoor sign

History

MCFI has been providing life-changing programs for people struggling to gain independence since 1938. It began as Jewish Vocational Service to help new immigrant families fleeing oppression in Europe settle in our community.

Since then, the agency has grown to 30-plus programs, 700 employees, 340 volunteers and 125 interns. We help 20,000 individuals annually on their path to independence.

See our annual report here.


Our Values

Understanding People. Leading Success. Working Together. Those are the values that drive MCFI and its staff.

At MCFI, you can trust us to:

  • Treat you with empathy and respect.
  • Listen to you with purpose.
  • Act in your best interest.
  • Advance knowledge and champion innovation.
  • Recognize, celebrate and share in your success.
  • Welcome your unique strengths, backgrounds and challenges.
  • Engage you in planning and decision-making.
  • Foster partnerships to achieve outcomes.

Leadership

Headshot Teri Zywicki

Teri Zywicki

CEO and President
Headshot Bridget Fassett

Bridget Fassett

Chief Financial Officer
Headshot Dennise Lavrenz

Dennise Lavrenz

Chief Clinical Officer
Headshot Denise Banks

Denise Banks

Vice President of Human Resources
Headshot Margaret Fischbach

Margaret Fischbach

Vice President of Legal and Compliance

Our Board of Directors

  • Dr. Mary Spencer, RN, MSN, Board Chairperson, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Career Service
  • Jeff Fleming, Past Chairperson, Redevelopment Authority, City of Milwaukee
  • Antonio Riley, Vice Chairperson
  • Teri Zywicki, Secretary, MCFI President and CEO
  • Deanna Chernouski, Treasurer, MCFI
  • Clifton Crump, City of Milwaukee
  • Rebecca (Riv) Goldman, General Counsel, Optimas
  • Jim Henry
  • Dr. Tobias Kaemmerer, Clinical Neuropsychologist, Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center
  • The Honorable Joan Kessler, Court of Appeals
  • E. Michael McCann
  • Dan Neely, Associate Professor of Accounting, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • John Linnen
  • Robin Reese, Executive Director, Thirty Six Blocks Inc.
  • Morgan Tilleman, Senior Counsel, Foley & Lardner LLP
  • Tim Voigtman, Attorney, Foley & Lardner LLP
  • Fran Wiesner, Consultant


Success Stories and Results

Man-giving-thumbs-up
Behavioral Health: Coming Home

Mike heard voices, saw things that didn't exist, and had a history of setting fires to get attention....

Learn More
Mother-holding-children
Children's Services: Second Chances

Diagnosed with cancer when he was just one, Domani Scott had a bone marrow transplant and more than his...

Learn More
Woman-smiling
Employment Services: Choice and Change

Tanya Powell grew up in Cabrini-Green, Chicago’s notorious housing project known for its gang violence,...

Learn More
Services for Adults: Expect Results

When Dantarius Davis graduated from North Division High School five years ago, he wanted a job, but he...

Learn More
Man-with-disabilities-smiling
Therapy for All Ages: Finding a Voice

At age 10, Tony acquired a brain injury after a near-drowning accident. Because of that, he was unable...

Learn More

Partners

We are committed to our many partners who help us strengthen our community.


Compliance

MCFI is dedicated to delivering health care and social services that strictly conform to the highest standards of accountability for administration, clinical, business, marketing and financial management.

Our Code of Ethics contains general guidelines for providing services and conducting business with the highest standards of ethics. We are committed to an environment where open, honest communications are the expectation, not the exception.

We believe in and practice self-directed care, meaning that those we serve, or their representatives or guardians, have the authority to make decisions about the types of services they receive.

If you believe there has been a violation of policies or standards, please feel free to contact our corporate compliance officer, Margaret Fischbach, 414-290-7834.

If you prefer to make an anonymous report about possible workplace violations, please contact EthicsPoint, 855-612-7055 (TTY 866-294-9572), or click here.

To file a complaint about a client incident, contact our help line at 414-290-2025 ext. 7525 or vergehelp@mcfi.net.


Diversity

At MCFI, we believe in an inclusive and diverse workplace so that everyone feels valued and their talents are recognized -- and the lives of our employees, and those we serve, are deeply enriched.

Both employees and the individuals we serve represent diverse backgrounds and cultures reflecting the communities we serve.


Icon of a question bubble

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are early intervention programs successful?

According to research, learning and development are at their highest rate in the preschool years. Some children, due to economic or social or developmental delays, risk missing some of the most important learning and developmental milestones. Early intervention helps keep children on a path to making the most of abilities and skills developed during the early years.

What does person-first and person-centered mean?

A person centered approach is about ensuring someone with a disability is an equal partner in planning, developing and monitoring care to make sure it meets their unique needs and wishes.

How are MCFI’s programs funded?

MCFI programs receive funds from a variety of sources, including Milwaukee County, the Department of Public Instruction, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Medicaid, commercial insurance companies, private pay, grants, private foundations and individual donors.

Does MCFI only serve people with disabilities?

While this is our primary focus; we also serve all people with barriers to success. For instance, our charter school is all inclusive, serving children with and without disabilities.

Is my donation tax-deductible?

MCFI is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization and your gift is tax-deductible.