Kristen D. Hardy
"Milwaukee really shines in the summer and autumn..."
Where do you work and what makes your role awesome?
I’m the Compliance Counsel at Rockwell Automation, Inc. What makes my role awesome is that I get to work with so many different people across the globe. My job is a unique blend of the law, corporate compliance, investigations, training, and general communication and education. As you can imagine, this keeps my day-to-day interesting. It is an amazing feeling to really like what you do!
Outside of my career, I am also the visionary and Co-Founder of Brunch of Professionals, an organization dedicated to creating meaningful professional relationships by way of monthly brunches, specifically designed to discuss issues impacting women. For the last three years, BoP has brought together diverse groups of women (and on special occasions, men) throughout Milwaukee, supported numerous Milwaukee-area businesses (from restaurants to photographers), and facilitated discussions on everything from light-hearted topics, such as navigating social media as a professional, to hard-hitting issues like financial health and handling harassment or gender disparities in the workplace. Milwaukee is home to some amazing women, and I love that the brunches have helped us meet so many of them. Brunch of Professionals is excited to partner with NEWaukee for this year’s YPWeek closeout brunch, so be on the lookout for more information!
How long have you lived in Milwaukee and what brought you here?
I’ve lived in Milwaukee for almost seven years, after initially moving here to attend law school (Marquette University Law School). After finishing my undergraduate degree in New Jersey, I longed to be closer to home and my family and decided to tailor my law school search to the Midwest. I’m originally from Michigan and still visit there regularly.
What is something that is missing from our community that you would love to see implemented?
As many strides as the city has made to overcome some of its missteps, we are still a long way from being where we should be in terms of (racial, gender, economic) equality. As an African-American woman who has lived in a variety of different cities, I’ve noticed that Milwaukee lags behind some other major cities when it comes to representation in all facets of the community. I don’t have all the answers about how to change this or make us more proficient in these areas, but there are some great organizations, like the Milwaukee Urban League (including MUL Young Professionals) and the Wisconsin Association of African-American Lawyers (WAAL), that tackle these issues head-on, and are consistently working to change the narrative in the city. Those organizations and the young people who are so invested in making the city better is inspiring, to say the least.
What local restaurant is at the top of your list?
I’ve probably tried every local restaurant in Milwaukee, but Odd Duck continues to be my favorite. If you haven’t already visited, you need to go this week. And if you enjoy well-made cocktails that are equal parts sweet and refreshing, make sure you order drink #102 (which I’ve officially dubbed my “Birthday Drink”).
What’s your favorite hidden gem or secret fact about the city?
This isn’t a hidden gem to anyone who lives here, but for those who have never visited, I think the city’s beauty is relatively unknown. Milwaukee really shines in the summer and autumn, especially being situated right on Lake Michigan. Similarly, I think my hometown (Detroit) gets a bad rap when it comes to being aesthetically pleasing (despite the city being beautiful, as is metro-Detroit), and Milwaukee falls into the same bucket. I always encourage friends and family to visit before they judge. They have never been disappointed!