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Happy to announce that our Chief Innovation Officer, Geraud Blanks, has been named winner of the 2021 Abele Catalyst Award! The ACA recognizes a person for their generous support of the nonprofit’s mission while honoring their efforts to think big, aim high, and understand we can always do better. 

The Abele Catalyst Award, inspired by Milwaukee Film founder Chris Abele’s interest in having a catalytic and long-lasting positive impact on our community through film, is given annually to the person or organization whose generous support embodies that enthusiasm. Blanks is notably the first Milwaukee Film staff member to receive this award. 

“When we started Milwaukee Film, it was always our intent to not just present great films, but to start and then support important conversations in our community,” said Abele. “Geraud has done exactly that, more effectively than any of us could have imagined and focused on the most important conversations we need to have. Geraud's work has engaged, educated, and inspired countless Milwaukeeans in a way that, while never sugar-coating our challenges, has always focused on bringing people together for solutions. Every day he helps to make sure Milwaukee Film delivers not just great films, but impact. Our organization - and Milwaukee - are very lucky to have him.” 

Co-founder of Milwaukee Film’s Black Lens program, Blanks joined the organization as a seasonal employee in 2014. His role expanded in 2019 with the creation of the nonprofit’s Cultures & Communities initiative, serving as the program’s director for a short time before taking on the CIO position this March. Among his distinguished accomplishments, Blanks also established the Minority Health Film Festival, an annual event highlighting health and wellness issues in communities of color.  

“It’s always nice to be recognized by your peers,” said Blanks. “I’m especially grateful given the precarity of the last 14 months. I went from the uncertainty of my employment during the early weeks and months of the pandemic to doing my best work.” 


Blanks will be joining an outstanding list of luminaries who’ve received the honor in the past. Fellow awardees include:  

  • 2013 Chris Abele 
  • 2014 Marianne Lubar 
  • 2015 Donald & Donna Baumgartner 
  • 2016 Katie Heil 
  • 2017 Brico Fund 
  • 2018 Christine Symchych 
  • 2019 Alec Fraser 
  • 2020 Bud & Sue Selig 
  • 2021 Geraud Blanks 

More information on the award is Abele Catalyst Award is available online.  

Posted by: Tom Fuchs