"I absolutely love that Milwaukee's hidden gems can be seen through Doors Open."
Where do you work and what makes your role awesomesauce?
I am part of the amazing team at Zywave! I love what I do. I get to help build our awesome software that helps insurance brokers, a largely analog industry in this digital world, grow and succeed. Something else that makes Zywave truly awesome is the people I get to work with. My peers. I am truly on a team. We are smashing our minds together each day to solve complex problems and build cool stuff, both for the company and industry-wide. We are making a difference.
What’s more, we are having fun doing it! I am on a team with my company. At Zywave, employees are treated like partners, and because of this, I feel valued every day. Because of this I want to go to work! I want to help make sure my company succeeds. Work doesn’t feel like work. It feels like a place I get excited to come to every morning. And after being in the workforce for many years, I never thought this feeling was possible. As an employer, Zywave doesn’t fit the traditional, boring mold. It is different. I love that.
How long have you lived in Milwaukee and what brought you here?
I have lived in the Milwaukee area, cumulatively, for 18 years. I like to say I’m a boomerang resident. I left for short periods of time, but always came back. At the heart of it, this is because my whole family is from the area, and because of that, Milwaukee is and will always be home.
What do you love most about Milwaukee?
The thing I love most is that it feels like a big present wrapped up in a tiny package. It has the culture, food, architecture, neighborhoods, parks, events, and beauty of a big city without the crowds, traffic, expansive size, and angry people. It’s like spending time with your cool uncle knowing he’ll never ground you for staying out too late. It’s the best of both worlds.
What local restaurant is at the top of your list?
Stack’d Burger Bar. Hands down! I have a huge affinity for anything between two pieces of bread. In my opinion, Stack’d does it best. Everything is made in-house and they have the best turkey burger I’ve ever tasted. I feel that is a litmus test when it comes to a quality burger place: many places’ turkey burgers come out dry and overcooked. Not Stack’d! Plus, their fried pickles with Sriracha ranch are out-of-this-world good! And Purple Door Ice Cream is, literally, two blocks away for a little after-dinner awesomeness as well!
Milwaukee has an extremely high homicide rate. I think if there is one major scar on an otherwise beautiful city, it is that. My biggest hope for Milwaukee is for that statistic to diminish, not just for the city, but for the people who live in it. I hope, one day, I can turn on the news and not see stories about kids getting shot. I hope, one day, people feel safe taking a walk at night. I hope, one day, respect and love for people rises and hate falls.
What’s your favorite hidden gem or secret fact about the city?
I absolutely love that Milwaukee allows its hidden gems and secret facts to be seen and known by the public through its Doors Open MKE weekend! This event, alone, keeps the amazing history of our city alive! Hidden treasure in City Hall, the world’s oldest bowling alley, a lake under downtown buildings, speakeasy tunnels…it’s a whole weekend dedicated to hidden urban exploration and the stories behind these gems! If you’re looking for something specific, how about Hi Hat on Brady is actually an old school house that was moved, brick-for-brick, four blocks down the road to its current location! Talk about a mobile home.
What do you think will be a game changer for the city in 2016?
I feel like Milwaukee is currently going through an urban renaissance. Everywhere I look, I see new buildings getting erected and old buildings getting new lives. Run-down neighborhoods are now hip and modern — and clean. There are things to do and places to see, and I think much of this will attract more young professionals to the city, not just from Wisconsin, but from all over. After all, we are the next generation of the workforce. We are the next generation of home owners. But, most importantly, we are the next generation entrusted with this city. And with so much development, it shows Milwaukee is investing in us, has faith in us. 2016 and 2017, I feel, will bring about a shift in the way Milwaukee is viewed by outsiders — not so much of a travel destination anymore, but rather, a home base. “Milwaukee, Home” never sounded better!