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What is your story? How did you end up in Milwaukee?Heather Pechacek

I grew up in a small town in Ohio on a dirt road. Literally a dirt road. After heading to the big city of Cleveland for college and athletics, I also snagged a hostessing job at a great downtown restaurant. One cozy fall day, my now-husband was visiting Cleveland for a Packers/Browns game (yes, I’m a HUGE Browns fan!) and took me home as a souvenir six months later. From there, I began working at the Shepherd Express and continue to do so as the Marketing and Event Manager, creating 10 of Milwaukee’s favorite events.

What keeps you in Milwaukee/What do you like best about Milwaukee?

Milwaukee has truly become home for me. I love that my job has immersed me into the culture of the city, teaching me the ins and outs and hidden treasures and introducing me to so many amazing people. The absolute best part about Milwaukee for me? I truly feel like a Milwaukeean - I drag out my O’s, drink beer, and hit up as many summer festivals as possible.

Favorite spot in the city?

My favorite spot in the city is most definitely the 23rd floor of the Pfister. I love Blu. The music, the cocktails, the view, high tea. And if I am there, it is most likely date night with my husband!

Milwaukee festival you are eager to attend each year?

State Fair! I went for the first time the very year that I moved to Milwaukee, and make it a point to go as often as possible each year. From the animals to the music to the family-friendly atmosphere, it truly represents Wisconsin. I’m not one for food on a stick (did I say that?!), but cold beer and salt water taffy are always on hand.

What drew you to Echelon?

Knowing I was going to better myself all while bettering a community of people is what drew me to Echelon. The works of the Salvation Army are heavily relied on in our city. From food service to shelter to ministry programs, The Salvation Army is helping those in need. As a young professional, it is my responsibility to make sure I can help to carry out the tasks of my predecessors to the utmost standard that they have set. I have always and will always help others and put them first, and Echelon gives me the outlet to do so.

Share with us a memorable experience you have had thus far with the organization.

We have done photoshoots in abandoned buildings, and I’ve had my face on billboards and bus stops, been featured in local magazines, and met too many local celebrities to count, but none of that compared to the time we showed up at an elementary school at 6 a.m. on a hot summer morning to carry hundreds of backpacks filled with supplies up multiple flights of stairs for every single child at that particular school. Knowing that our simple efforts were directly benefiting a school full of our youth made us all feel extremely humbled at the end of the morning. I remember the excitement of shopping for a new backpack and school supplies growing up and I only wish I could have stayed to see the looks on the students’ faces as they received their brand-new school supplies.

What struggles do you see our city dealing with? What can our generation do to help?

Milwaukee has done such a great job at utilizing the resources at hand. The growth and excitement of the city over the past five years is incredible. As a young professional, I need to be involved in continuing that growth and shaping the city to be the best it can possibly be. From the businesses to the parks to the clean river, my generation needs to put all hands on deck to continue the works of those before us. In 10 years, we will be the ones making the decisions for our city, and the proper training, interest and excitement about those tasks needs to start now.