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Carmen Fontanez, MSW, APSW
Social Enterprise Director
Carmen was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and resides in Milwaukee today. In 2002, Carmen joined the Franciscan Peacemakers and started doing street outreach with Deacon Steve Przedpelski. In 2006, she earned her bachelor’s degree in social work at Mount Mary University and in 2011 earned her Master’s degree in Social Work at UW-Milwaukee.
After witnessing so much suffering from the women on the streets, Carmen felt like she was just putting band-aids on the women's wounds and wanted to do something more to address mental health and addictions. After some prompting, Carmen and Deacon Steve went to Nashville, Tennessee to learn more about Thistle Farms who was providing housing and jobs for women with the same issues. In 2013, Carmen co-founded the Gifts for the Journey social enterprise and in January of 2014, co-founded the resident-based housing program, Clare Community where she worked as the in-house social worker for the residents.
Carmen is currently the Director of the Franciscan Peacemakers’ social enterprise and teaches program participants how to make the products, grow in their job skills as well as work alongside the women sharing in their journey of healing. Carmen is the mother of two young men as well as a professed Secular Franciscan and member of the St. Francis of Assisi Fraternity at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee.