Geri L. Lyday
An internship at the MilwaukeeCenter fore Independence was a ray of light for Geri L. Lyday. The experience put in focus a desire to help people with disabilities.
“I kind of felt I enjoyed doing this line of work. I wanted to be with people, and it just felt right to me,” says Geri, who worked at the county’s Wil-O-Way Summer Camp during her formative experience.
For more than 30 years, Geri has been able to fulfill this mission through her role as an administrator with MilwaukeeCounty’s Disability Services Division. In her position, Geri brings the state’s community options program – aimed at helping people in need of long-term care stay in their homes – at the county level for local residents who benefit from such services.
For several years, Geri has also served as interim director of the county’s department of health and human services, where she helped implement operational changes at the county’s Mental Health Complex. She was appointed the position by (then-County Executive) Scott Walker. “it was quite a journey,” Geri says of the appointment. “I got involved with quite a few issued during that period of time.”
Regardless of a person’s age or disability, Geri says her goal is to help the recipient realize his or her abilities – not their limitations.
“Working for the county has been such a great experience,” Geri says. “The people I’ve worked with have been wonderful. We’ve been able to make a true impact on people with a range of ages.”
Despite ongoing budgetary challenges at the county level, Geri says she is working vigorously to end a waiting list for the county’s administration of the state’s community options program. At one point, the list swelled as high as 3,000 people.
Practicing what she preaches, Geri, a lifelong Milwaukee resident, cares for her 92-year-old father, Caspar W. Lyday. In recent years, the long-time owner of Caspar’s Lounge in the heart of Milwaukee has been living in Geri’s home. “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Geri says. “Family is all about supporting each other and being together.”
Geri, a graduate of MartinLutherHigh School, has earned a number of degrees, including a bachelor’s in behavioral science and a minor in psychology from LakelandCollege in Plymouth, WI and a master’s in rehabilitation specialty at Minnesota State University-Mankato.
Geri is also a lifelong member of CavalryBaptistChurch. Additionally, she has served on the Wisconsin Long Term Care Advisory Council and has been involved with various functions of Special Olympics Wisconsin.