Reflecting on Lee Schulz' 32 years of innovative leadership

By Mike Lipscomb, Board Chair

For more than three decades, Lee Schulz served as the President and CEO of IndependenceFirst. He steadfastly steered our mission to effectively facilitate empowerment of individuals with disabilities. It is with mixed emotions that we share with you that Lee retired on April 1, 2018.

Lee Schulz HeadshotWhen Lee started, IndependenceFirst had a $260,000 annual operating budget. He grew it into a multidimensional organization with a $31 million budget. Under his leadership, IndependenceFirst has helped thousands of individuals with disabilities be able to live with dignity and independence. He also led the move into our current, owned facility, and it is a model of accessibility.

Our Chief Operating Officer, Deb Langham, is serving as the Interim President and CEO until the recruitment of a new President and CEO. Lee and Deb have worked closely together for 20 years. This will ensure program and operational continuity until we hire a permanent President and CEO.

Next year, we will be celebrating our 40th anniversary and are excited for the next chapter of IndependenceFirst. We cannot thank Lee enough for his dedication, passion, enthusiasm and motivation over the past 32 years. Please join me and our Board of Directors in sincerely thanking Lee for all he has accomplished in this role and congratulate him on this new chapter in his life.

IndependenceFirst is first and foremost about the people we serve, their families and their communities. Our commitment to these principles and our passionate belief in the abilities of all people drive us to continued growth, innovation and success. If you have any questions or concerns during this transition process, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly.

Mike Lipscomb
Chair, Board of Directors


On April 10, 2018, Rep. Gwen Moore of Milwaukee's Fourth Congressional District recognized Lee Schulz in the House of Representatives for his service to our community. Rep. Moore mentioned a number of Lee's many achievements developing innovative programs to meet the needs of the community, as well as his work on local, state and national boards and advisory committees. She also discussed Lee's spearheading of the move into our current, fully accessible facility, and shared her positive impressions as a visitor to the building for meetings and community events. 
On behalf of all of us at IndependenceFirst, we congratulate Lee on receiving this honor and would like to express our gratitude to Rep. Moore for recognizing Lee's many contributions to the Greater Milwaukee Area and beyond. 

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