I was originally born in Texas, but when my parents split up, I came up to live with my mom and family in Wisconsin. I spent most of my childhood in the Southwestern part of the state and moved to Milwaukee when I was 18 to go to school (Go Panthers). As it happens, I ended up finding some great professional opportunities along with an awesome network and it has kept me here ever since!
This city has such an amazing vibe right now, there are literally few other places that I could think or want to be a part of when it comes to living/creating an awesome place to live. What do I mean? There is over a billion dollars in investment going into the downtown area alone, Bradford Beach has become a regional destination and the city’s restaurants and other amenities have been taking off. Sure, there are warmer places to live in the US and even more economically booming, but I really believe Milwaukee is at a turning point that will have people in 10 years saying, "I was there when…”
When it comes to favorite spots, I classify by activity. Favorite place to grab a beer is St. Paul's Fish Market outside of the Milwaukee Public Market. Favorite place to hang out in the summer is Bradford Beach, hands down. One little spot I really enjoy that I don't think gets enough credit is the little park outside of the Marcus Center. It's full of grown trees, has a gorgeous fountain and is right along the river. Very cool place to eat lunch and hang on a summer day.
Milwaukee festival you are eager to attend each year? Obviously Summerfest would be near the top of the list, but honestly my favorite event of the summer I like to attend right now is anything down at the beach, including the annual party that I throw :)
I was drawn to Echelon by the opportunity it presented to help an organization (Salvation Army) that in my opinion does the absolute most to strengthen what you could call the weakest parts of our city - which, if you believe in the idea that a city is only as strong as it weakest link, makes Salvation Army a very attractive place to spend your time and effort. The chance to work with other motivated, successful emerging professionals from around the region was truly just a bonus when it came to the type of work and effort we would be putting forth. It's been an incredible run so far and I'm excited to see what we can do going forward.
The first time you visit a shelter, or you hear a story of someone who goes through a rehabilitation program, you can't help but be in awe. I would say that moment came for me recently at the Red Kettle Luncheon, where someone who had completed the rehab program spoke about having literally fallen down unresponsive in a Salvation Army parking lot and a year later was on the verge of being able to begin re-employment as a truck driver. You can't fake that type of impact and it was incredible to see and hear how the organization I volunteer with made it possible.
Milwaukee’s struggles are pretty well documented by the news and media outlets, so I won't spend a ton of time going into detail, but we certainly have our areas to improve. Poverty, segregation, crime - we are affected by these issues as much as any major metro area. How our generation can help is by being transparent, dedicated and open when it comes to ideas to impact those areas and, most of all, by working on being diverse in the conclusions we come to.