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Alumni Spotlight: Deanna Singh

Deanna SinghBrookfield East Class of 1997

Deanna Singh is a Spartan graduate who has impacted thousands through her work as a leader of change in communities across the United States.

Deanna began her Elmbrook education at Burleigh Elementary, where she met her classmate and future husband, Justin Ponder, on the playground in fifth grade. Following Burleigh, she attended Pilgrim Park and continued to Brookfield East. During her time at East, Deanna was involved in the cheerleading team, student council, and she began the school's Culture Club which focuses on celebrating and exploring cultural diversity and supporting international and Elmbrook community causes. "I had so many quality educators that were enthusiastic about their subjects through my Elmbrook experience," reflected Singh. "They instilled a passion for learning in me that has continued throughout my life."

Following her graduation from BE, she attended Fordham University in New York with a focus on Urban Studies. While an undergrad, she created the New York office of LIFT, a non-profit that connects families to resources and networks that help them out of poverty. LIFT is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and is currently in five cities helping families across the country. Deanna graduated from Fordham in 2001 and continued her education at Georgetown's Law School. While at Georgetown, she was a teacher in the Street Law Project, where she taught law in a clinical program that equipped students to teach law in local high schools. Following graduation from Georgetown, Deanna returned to Wisconsin to found and direct the Milwaukee Street Project.

In 2010, she received her Business degree from UW-Madison, and through the years, Deanna has served in numerous leadership roles including Executive Director of the Milwaukee Renaissance Academy, Adjunct Professor at Marquette University, Program Officer for Robert W. Baird & Co, CEO of the Burke Foundation, and President of the Dohmen Company Foundation.

Deanna's work and impact on her community has been recognized with Brookfield East's Impact Award, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction's Leadership Development Award, and in 2014 she was named one of Milwaukee Business Journal's most influential 40 Under 40 leaders.

Today, Deanna and her husband, Justin, live in Brookfield with their two sons, Zion and Zephaniah. "Our experience as Elmbrook parents has been exceptional," stated Singh. "The District's focus on individual learning and creativity is incredibly beneficial for students, and I am excited about the increase in diversity within our community." Deanna is a keynote speaker, and Chief Change Agent and Founder of Flying Elephant, an umbrella organization of social enterprises that she has helped create. She serves on educational boards throughout Milwaukee and is also a trained Labor and Birth Doula and serves as co-founder of Birth Coach Milwaukee. In recent years, Singh has become an author with her book Purposeful Hustle (2018), and children's books I Am a Boy of Color (2016) and I Am a Girl of Color (2017).

"I get to live, breathe, and work in a space that is what I want to do," said Deanna. "I love being able to positively impact people's lives through my work and see the changes our organizations make in action." You can discover more about Deanna at and view her TEDx talk here.

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