"My biggest hope for this city is that we collectively start celebrating all of Milwaukee..."
Where do you work and what makes your role awesome?
I work in Northwestern Mutual’s STEM Outreach program– hi, Tech– which engages K-12 Milwaukee-area students in tech learning and careers through hands-on tech activities, mentoring, work-based learning experiences, and more.
My job is awesome because I get to work with the future innovators and leaders of our city. I get to witness students from all backgrounds light up with curiosity and pride as they tinker with code, converse with mentors, and prepare for tech careers.
My job is also awesome because I get to work with Northwestern Mutual’s crazy-talented technologists and other community partners, who volunteer with our program. In less than a year in my role, I’ve already worked with hundreds of volunteers, and each of them has taught me through their example: From new skills in tech to skills in servant leadership.
How long have you lived in Milwaukee and what brought you here?
I have lived in Milwaukee for almost five years, and I originally moved here in the summer of 2014 for Teach For America Milwaukee, which strives to make educational equity a reality for all students. I then taught high school science in Milwaukee Public Schools for four years.
Possibly most importantly is what made me stay: Those four years of teaching quickly made me fall in love with Milwaukee by exposing me to its diverse communities and its unsung beauty. I got to spend every day with our region’s future changemakers who are more passionate, resilient, and insightful than I will ever be. One thing I learned very quickly living in Milwaukee, is that we need to do a better job of giving our youth a mic: They have insight and ideas that need to be heard.
Almost everything! The highlights for me would be the lakefront, the myriad of festivals, the sense of resilient grassroots hustle and the city’s humble pride.
If you could create one thing in Milwaukee, what would it be?
Better public transportation options. We need affordable, reliable, transport options for locals and visitors, but especially for our youth who are trying to get around the Milwaukee-area for school, work and more.
As a teacher, transportation issues were one of the number one reasons my students’ educational opportunities were disrupted: From being tardy to having to pass up an internship opportunity, to choosing to switch schools, and more. A strong public transport system might also alleviate some of the access barriers in our city – when youth who have grown up in Milwaukee have yet to see Lake Michigan, we know there’s a problem.
Where do you see Milwaukee in five years?
I see Milwaukee on everyone’s radar, for more than just beer and cheese. I expect Milwaukee to be in the national spotlight for all the right reasons. Highlights are sure to come as we prepare to welcome the Democratic National Convention and as we continue to build our identity as a city of tech and innovation, thanks to the MKE Tech Hub movement.
What is your biggest hope for this city?
My biggest hope for this city is that we collectively start celebrating all of Milwaukee – from our rich, resilient history to our vibrant, diverse neighborhoods and all that is to come. Often referred to as the most segregated city in the nation, we need to be purposeful about changing the Milwaukee narrative to one that celebrates our diversity. This can be done through positive media attention and storytelling. We are starting to do this better, thanks to strong local journalists and community leaders, such as the team and tenants at Sherman Phoenix. My hope is that this celebration and recognition of Milwaukee’s true identity will break down silos and bridge communities.
What local restaurant is at the top of your list?
National Café: It was my go to as an educator for weekend lesson planning/grading, as well as for catering events. I love the location, atmosphere, fresh ingredients, and friendly staff. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the hidden outdoor seating this summer!
What’s your favorite hidden gem or secret fact about the city?
Most people know about these, but I still can’t get over the many historical movie theaters in Milwaukee-area. If I am going to see a movie, I immediately check out showtimes at Oriental, Downer, Avalon, etc. There’s nothing that quite compares to becoming immersed in a film in that setting, as the atmosphere just draws you in!
What does your ideal Milwaukee weekend look like?
Being outside, by the lakefront or a river, if the weather allows it to be remotely feasible! Every weekend should include running or kayaking or biking – preferably in a new area to explore more of our region. As a beer lover, I won’t say no to topping these adventures off with a stop at a brewery or a beer garden.