With Dustin Block, Kellie Bramlet, Ann Christenson, Jenny Marie Farris, Erik Helin, Samantha Hernandez, Kevin Kosterman, Howie Magner, Dan Murphy, Steve Paske, Katie Pelech and Carly Rubach.
Photo by Dan Bishop
Christian Bartley has his eye on the future and is certain Milwaukee will be a star. “Milwaukee is a global player,” says Bartley, 38, chief executive of World Trade Center Wisconsin. “We just haven’t marketed ourselves properly.”
From his office in the War Memorial Center, overlooking the art museum’s Calatrava addition, the new symbol of the city, Bartley recounts his experience working on a Milwaukee 7 guerilla marketing effort. His team brought in college newspaper editors and showed off the city to them – in hopes they’d spread the word to collegiate readers.
“It’s certainly had a positive effect,” Bartley says. “Once they’re here, they see all the charms and opportunities Milwaukee offers.”
Metro-area leaders fret about a brain drain, about the young and educated fleeing to find greener pastures and fatter paychecks. From 1995 to 2000, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, Wisconsin saw a net loss of 11,224 college-educated 25- to 39-year-olds. “Individuals with college or advanced degrees were more likely to leave the state, while those with less education tended to come,” a 2005 report by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance noted.
Many may be making decisions based on misconceptions about this city, says Shelley Jurewicz, executive director of FUEL Milwaukee, a support group for young professionals. “We’re fifth in the nation in Fortune 500 companies,” Jurewicz notes. “On the pay side of things, we currently rank above the national averages. We’re No. 1 in the number of great places to work per capita for three years in a row. But this is lost on students.”
Jurewicz notes that this city’s challenge is not a unique one. “There are actually very few states that are experiencing a brain gain, so we’re not alone in that.”
Indeed, as we looked around Milwaukee, consulting a range of experts, we found no shortage of smart, creative people under the age of 40 who are making a difference.
We found lots of world-class talent – be it in business, science, social services, sports or the arts – that is already changing the city. If these are the faces of the future, Milwaukee could be heading in a very positive direction.
“There is a lot going on,” says Jurewicz. “No one is sitting idly around.”
Juiceboxxx, 22 Rapper
As the crowd gathered at this summer’s PBR Street Party in Bay View, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” blared from the sound system. Though not a song you would expect to introduce a rapper to the stage, it seemed strangely fitting for Juiceboxxx.
“He has that thing that early Springsteen had,” says Steve Hyden, city editor for The Onion’s A.V. Club. “That feeling that he was going to reach everybody in the audience, no matter what.”
The Mequon-based Juiceboxxx has been performing since he was 15, and his live shows are riotously energetic. “Nothing can approximate the thrill of the live performance,” he says.
Juiceboxxx grew up listening to the wildly diverse WMSE-FM and attending underground punk shows. These experiences influenced not just his unique blend of punk-infused hip-hop, but the passion with which he pursues it. “It’s not really about a sound or even an aesthetic,” he says. “It’s an attitude you take with you your entire life.”
Touring is his full-time job, and he says he makes enough money to pay his rent while doing what he loves. “If you really want to do this,” he explains, “you figure out a way to make it work.” (KK)
Rebecca Klaper, 39
Assistant Scientist, Great Lakes WATER Institute
Lake Michigan is Milwaukee’s greatest natural resource, and Dr. Rebecca Klaper is keeping an eye on it.
Klaper, who earned her doctorate in ecology from the University of Georgia in 2000, has been at the Great Lakes WATER (Wisconsin Aquatic Technology and Environmental Research) Institute for five years, studying the impact of “emerging contaminants” on freshwater organisms. These unwelcome additions include pharmaceuticals flushed into the lake and nanoparticles – tiny particulates found in everything from sunscreen to clothing stain repellents.
“Dr. Klaper has become recognized as a national leader, particularly in the area of the impact of nanomaterials on aquatic organisms,” says WATER senior scientist Val Klump.
Klaper writes papers and proposals, conducts experiments, educates the public, and occasionally ventures out on Lake Michigan in the research vessel “Neeskay.” She produced and wrote Inland Seas,a documentary film about the Great Lakes.
“We could live as a human being without oil,” says Klaper. “But we can’t live without water.” (DM)
Adam Siegel, 35
Executive Chef, Lake Park Bistro and Bacchus
Adam Siegel has become a star. His poised acceptance speech of the 2008 James Beard Award for Best Midwest Chef – the foodie industry equivalent to the Oscars – is posted on YouTube.And at Lake Park Bistro, whose kitchen has been in his deft hands for the last eight years, you’re likely to find him out in the dining room, greeting guests, shaking hands and picking up feedback.
The 400 judges for the Beard Award include journalists, restaurant critics and other chefs. Siegel’s win shows “the high esteem in which his work is regarded,” says James Beard Foundation Director Susan Ungaro.
It’s also a coup for Milwaukee, a sign of its ever-improving dining scene. “In the past seven to eight years, a lot has happened in Milwaukee,” Siegel says. “You can find all these restaurants and spend a fraction of the cost and travel [going to other cities].”
The native Chicagoan has spent 21 years working in restaurant kitchens and found his “strongest influence” in boss Joe Bartolotta’s star chef/brother Paul (whose Chicago restaurant kitchen Siegel trained in). Three years ago, Siegel added the executive chef gig at Lake Park Bistro’s sister restaurant, Bacchus. Still, he has “a great quality of life,” he says. The varied hours at both restaurants let him make it home occasionally for dinner with his wife – the family cook – and two kids.
“When are you going to open a restaurant?” his diners often ask. His answer is that he still loves overseeing the two restaurants. “I’m constantly stimulated,” he says. (AC)
Pehr Anderson, 38
Managing Director, Silicon Pastures
While most 30-year-olds are just starting their way up the corporate ladder, Pehr Anderson had already started a company and sold it for $90 million.
In 2005, Anderson took over operations at Silicon Pastures, a premier local network of angel investors and strategic partners for emerging businesses. The group looks for emerging technology companies to invest in, particularly those connected to Wisconsin’s core industries. Such investment is a key to building a new economy.
Anderson was a science major at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but found it a daunting discipline. “I grew up on a research farm in North Dakota. Making progress in science is very challenging, so I took the easy route,” he says.
At least it was easy for Anderson: He created and later sold NBX Corp., which built Ethernet devices that plug phones into a company’s computer network, cutting expenses and providing more technical flexibility. In 2004, Anderson moved to Milwaukee from Boston, seeking a more family-friendly city and looking to support entrepreneurial activity.
“Milwaukee has entrepreneurs who try really hard, and the investment community doesn’t always understand what they are able to achieve. That creates a great opportunity,” he says. “These young companies can grow faster with the right kind of support. I get to shape the future on a larger scale.” (JMF)
Sean Ryan, 28
Journalist, The Daily Reporter
At a time when there is less and less media coverage of Milwaukee’s City Hall, one reporter is diligently working the beat.
Sean Ryan of The Daily Reporter(“Wisconsin’s Construction, Law and Public Record Authority Since 1897”) is a throwback, an old-fashioned newsman who pounds the pavement and works the phones.
One City Hall insider says Ryan regularly scoops the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.“He chases things rather than wait till they drop in his lap. He does a very good job, asks good questions and breaks a lot of stories” the source says. “We may not like everything he writes – the mark of a good journalist, for sure – but he is accurate, fair and thorough.”
Ryan won the 2003 Milwaukee Press Club award for Best News Story Originally Published on a Web Site. He was recognized again in 2005, winning the National Newspaper Association’s Best Business Story.
Ald. Robert Bauman calls Ryan’s work “top-notch,” adding that, “It’s helped make The Daily Reportera journalistic force in the community.” (EH)
Rupesh Agrawal, 31
President, Zeon Solutions
Rupesh Agrawal is scary. He has that kind of eye-locking charisma with which he could steal your shirt, sell it back at a profit, and you’d thank him for it. It’s no surprise his company, Zeon Solutions (an e-business and IT consulting startup), has experienced phenomenal growth.
Agrawal, an Indian native, moved to the U.S. in 1997 to study computer engineering at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. After landing software engineering roles at companies like Xorbix Technologies, he became the head of Brady Corporation’s e-business department. Brady became his largest client when he formed Zeon in 2003.
In less than two years, Zeon’s workforce grew by more than 300 percent, and it now ranks in the top five of nearly 50 companies operating in the Milwaukee County Research Park. His company’s growth also earned him a place on the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce’s “Future 50” list.
So what’s next? With a smile, Rupesh says he hopes Zeon will “grow 10 times in the next five years.” (EH)
Elysse Wageman, 29
Program Manager, Public Allies
Here’s the problem. In five to 10 years, today’s nonprofit leaders will step down, leaving a void in leadership. But Elysse Wageman sees the solution. A founder of the Young Nonprofit Professional Network-Milwaukee and project manager at Public Allies-Milwaukee, she works to ensure her generation will be ready.
“If we truly value our nonprofits … then more people need to be involved,” Wageman says. “That’s what’s going to make the difference.”
Wageman became an activist in grade school. She learned about and was inspired by the late Father James Groppi, and boycotted Coca-Cola to fight apartheid in South Africa, where the company had a plant.
She worked to change things at UW-Milwaukee, thanks to the university’s system of shared governance, which requires that students take part in boards and groups that determine school policy. “It made me feel like I could make a difference,”
She built a resume that boasts a master’s degree from Marquette University plus jobs at the AIDS Resource Center, Community Shares of Greater Milwaukee and Peace Action Wisconsin.
“Elysse brings energy to everything she does – and lots of it,” says John Jansen, interim executive director at Community Shares. “She’s just the kind of person you want to work with in your community.”
At Public Allies, Wageman helps connect apprentices to nonprofits and guides them through their experiences. “I’m changing the world,” she says. “That’s a pretty exciting place
to be.” (KB)
Melissa Goins, 26
Founder and President, Maures Development
As a black woman in a field dominated by white men, Melissa Goins had every right to revel in the grand opening of her Teutonia Gardens and Handsome Plaza project before a who’s who of local officials.
Instead, Goins chose to focus attention on the bigger picture of urban development, “telling the story of why this was important,” she says. “The theme behind it was love for the heart of the city.”
The native Milwaukeean left her job as a corrections officer in 2004 to be a part of the inaugural Associates in Commercial Real Estate (ACRE) Program at Marquette University, which recruits, trains and places minorities in professional careers in
According to the Real Estate Executive Council, the $5 trillion commercial real estate industry employs 100,000 professionals. Of those, just 36 percent are women and less than 1 percent are African-American.
Daunting numbers, but they didn’t stop Goins from succeeding. “It’s about having a passion and committing to that passion despite what hurdles get in your way,” she says.
Goins says her company focuses on a more holistic development strategy that combines new construction with green landscaping and social partnerships with neighborhood organizations. It’s not just about bricks and mortar, she says. “It’s about revitalizing neighborhoods and bringing back pride and hope to people.” (KK)
Mark Hanson, 35
President and Executive Director, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
When Mark Hanson took over in 2004 as the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s new president and executive director, one of the youngest such leaders in America, he was greeted with a friendly Midwestern hello and a season forecast of $3.5 million in red ink.
Today, the MSO has a balanced budget, which it maintained for the past two years. And its cumulative debt was trimmed from $12 million to $5 million.
Under Hanson, ticket sales have increased. The MSO is playing more concerts, many outside its traditional home stage in the Marcus Center’s Uihlein Hall. Hanson has helped expand the MSO’s already impressive broadcasting network (now on radio stations in 240 cities), and the orchestra’s music can now be downloaded on iTunes.
The once-aspiring cello player has also overseen major artistic changes. Hanson helped lure popular veteran Marvin Hamlisch to take the role of principal pops conductor. But the big coup was signing internationally renowned conductor Edo de Waart – arguably the best catch in the orchestra’s history – as its music director beginning next season.
“It’s exhilarating to be a part of an institution that helps make Milwaukee known internationally,” Hanson says. (KB)
Faythe Levine, 31
Owner, Paper Boat Boutique
Faythe Levine was a maker of hand-sewn felt owls when she encountered the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago, the most prominent Do It Yourself craft fair in the country. “That was the first time I realized there was something big going on across the country,” she says.
The daughter of two self-employed parents – one an online astrologer, the other an organic dairy farmer – Levine says she inherited their entrepreneurial spirit early on. She started Milwaukee’s Art vs. Craft fair in 2004 to help create a community of creators in Milwaukee. Less than a year later, she teamed up with friend Kim Kisiolek to open Paper Boat Boutique in Bay View. Then, in 2006, bankrolling the effort with credit cards, she set out to make Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft and Design, a feature-length documentary set for release in 2009.
And so Levine has become ambassador for an entire subculture. “I just get to talk about my friends and people I respect creatively,” she says. “It’s pretty fantastic, actually.” (KK)
Dr. Daniel Beard, 37
Associate Professor of Physiology, Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Medical College of Wisconsin
Dr. Daniel Beard holds the record for shortest time needed to earn his doctorate in bioengineering at the University of Washington. Most people take five to six years; he took three years and nine months.
“What’s really remarkable, in the midst of that, he also completed a master’s degree in applied mathematics,” says professor Jim Bassingthwaighte, who was Beard’s doctoral advisor.
“Efficient” comes up a lot when Beard’s colleagues describe him. You need to be efficient when you head the group of computational biologists in the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Biotechnology and Bioengineering Center, hold affiliate faculty positions at both the University of Washington and Wisconsin, and write 25 major peer-reviewed publications in three years, all while finding ways to work out daily and spend time with your wife and two young children. Oh, and did we mention that in 2007, he published a book called Chemical Biophysics?
“To be honest, it’s getting tougher,” Beard says when asked how he manages his schedule.
In his studies of metabolism in tissues like the heart, Beard combines the disciplines of applied mathematics and biology in an attempt to develop simulations that predict the results of experiments before they actually take place.
“We’re starting to understand some disease processes, and are better able to pinpoint where to look for the breakdowns that lead to such disease,” Beard says.
“He’s taken on a whole new field, developed it, and leads it internationally,” says Bassingthwaighte. “He’s just brilliant.” (SP)
Kelly Anderson, 30
As a student at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Kelly Anderson enrolled in a modern dance class simply to get a required gym credit.
There, she discovered her true calling. She followed her heart to UW-Milwaukee, where she majored in dance and has gone on to become one of the hottest young dancers and choreographers in town. “I can’t believe it took me this far,” she says.
Anderson gained notoriety in 2001 when she performed in and co-produced the edgy piece, Bad Meat. Her latest work, Bra Project, is another provocative work that was staged at Danceworks.
Journal Sentinel dance critic Tom Strini has lauded Anderson as “a daring and inventive choreographer” and a dancer with a searing presence. “Anderson,” he wrote, “is so intense that she often seems about to explode on stage.” (KK)
Tim McMurtry, 37
Account Executive, Mueller Communications
The one-time assistant to Common Council President Willie Hines is well-connected politically and has become a key operative for Mueller Communications. His high success rate with clients can be attributed to an analytical nature, explains H. Carl Mueller, president and owner of the communications company. “What I like about Tim is that he’s always thinking and always asking questions,” says Mueller.
McMurtry also gives back to the community as a youth pastor at the World Outreach & Bible Training Center and by serving on the boards of Milwaukee World Festival, the Potawatomi Community Foundation’s advisory committee, and the Serenity Inn, a mission of the Milwaukee Lutheran Coalition.
Milwaukee, says McMurtry, could be the next great American city. “It’s poised to take the next step,” he says. (EH)
Jessica Poliner, 27
Legal Counsel, Metavante
While her job at the financial technology giant Metavante pays the bills, Jessica Poliner’s heart is elsewhere.
As a board member of Centro Legal, which provides affordable legal service, Poliner can apply her legal expertise to the causes of women’s issues, children and education. She has also helped grow its board and add younger members. “She really is a tireless advocate on behalf of the organization,” says Centro board member Domingo G. Cruz.
In September, Community Shares of Greater Milwaukee, which focuses on social change, economic justice and the environment, honored Poliner with its “Future of Change Award.” Says John Jansen of Community Shares, who presented her with the award, “She’s truly a great role model for young people in our community.” (SH)
Sebastian Schmaling, 38, & Brian Johnsen, 36
Johnsen Schmaling Architects
Brian Johnsen and Sebastian Schmaling almost operate like one person.
Their partnership can be traced back to when they were students at the UW-Milwaukee School of Architecture. Schmaling graduated in 1996 and Johnsen the following year. In 2003, they started their firm and quickly made their mark with innovative designs and green architecture.
“They’re really two of the brightest emerging stars,” says Whitney Gould, former Journal Sentinel architecture critic. “They don’t traffic in the nostalgia. They really believe in good contemporary design.”
The duo has won the American Institute of Architects (AIA) award in 2005 and 2008. Also in 2008, Johnsen Schmaling became the first Wisconsin firm to win the “Emerging Voices Award” from the Architectural League of New York. “It was the highlight of our year,” Schmaling says. (SH)
Yevgeniya Kaganovich, 33
Associate Professor, Department of Visual Arts, UWM
When Yevgeniya Kaganovich joined the UW-Milwaukee Visual Arts Department in 2002, the Jewelry and Metalsmithing program offered just four majors. Today that’s increased to 34.
“Yevgeniya turned the program into something all of the students want to be involved in,” says Josie Osborne, associate professor at UW-Milwaukee. “She made it cool.”
Born in Belarus, Kaganovich moved to Chicago with her family when she was 16. After graduating with her master’s degree in metals from State University of New York at New Paltz in 2002, Kaganovich
took one of the only three open teaching positions in her field nationwide. “This [the UWM job] is actually the one I wanted,” she says. “So I really lucked out.”
An active metalsmith and artist, Kaganovich has worked to connect the university to the city’s thriving arts scene, hosting senior shows at area art galleries and bringing local jewelers into her classroom to critique students. It’s given her students priceless professional experience, Kaganovich says.
“The community has been welcoming,” she says. “If it was in a city like Chicago or New York, I really doubt a project like this would be possible.” (KK)
Ben Poston, 28
Reporter, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Reporters with high-level computer data skills are still rare at daily newspapers like the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. When Ben Poston started there in June 2007 as a data analyst, his co-workers didn’t quite know what to make of him. “I think when I first started, people thought I was an IT guy,” he says. “But I’m a reporter first and foremost.”
Mark Katches, assistant managing editor for projects and investigations at the Journal Sentinel, says the 28-year-old Poston’s highly specialized analytical work has been an important part of the paper’s Watchdog Group.
“We’re basically going against the grain and creating a very large investigative staff when the whole newspaper industry is doing the exact opposite,” Poston notes.
With a Pulitzer Prize and an AP Innovator of the Year award to show for their work thus far, the paper’s efforts are getting noticed. As is Poston. “Ben has done everything we have asked him to do,” Katches says. “He’s a rising star.” (KK)
Areka Ikeler, 30
Owner, Fashion Ninja Boutique and Design School
An average of 18 to 24 students per month come through the doors of Fashion Ninja in search of Areka Ikeler’s wisdom on everything from sewing and design to starting a business.
When she is not teaching, Ikeler is busy running the boutique that she opened when she was just 23. She also designs her own line of clothing. “I’m certainly not afraid to fail,” she says.
Ikeler says independent shops like Fashion Ninja offer an alternative to what she calls the strip mall-based “copy-and-paste communities” that dominate the landscape of many cities. “It’s making the city a little cooler, so people here don’t get the same crap you see everywhere else,” she says. “It’s unique.” (KK)
Andy Tarnoff, 34
Co-founder and Publisher, OnMilwaukee.com
Ten years ago, two intrepid young PR professionals quit their day jobs with one goal in mind: Create an Internet-based source for the news and culture of the city they loved.
“At the time, people told us Milwaukee was too conservative for an online magazine, that the Internet was a passing fad,” says Tarnoff. “Well, they’re not saying that so much anymore.”
Not with weekly traffic of 135,000 visitors to OnMilwaukee.com, according to Media Audit. “I look around the media and we’re pretty much the youngest people out there,” he says. “People must be looking for that because our traffic has come very organically.” (KK)
Christian Bartley, 38
CEO, World Trade Center Wisconsin
Christian Bartley grew up in Milwaukee and lives here. He also traveled the world with two internationally minded parents, living in places like Paris and Hong Kong. “From the time I was breathing, I was traveling,” says Bartley.
What better preparation for someone who now sells Milwaukee to the world? After graduating from Marquette, Bartley started the international consulting firm Faleiro in Milwaukee, which he still runs even after landing at the World Trade Center Wisconsin job. WTC Wisconsin is a member of a global organization with centers in 300 cities, and offers local members internationally oriented Web resources, market research, strategic seminars, global matchmaking and trade missions.
“He’s somebody who appreciates Milwaukee and understands we undersell ourselves to the world,” says Julia Taylor, president of the Greater Milwaukee Committee.
There are many opportunities for the city, Bartley says. Milwaukee is within 45 minutes of 21 Fortune 1,000 companies, and over the next 20 years will turn its location on Lake Michigan into an epicenter of groundbreaking water research.
“This area will be the Silicon Valley of water,” says Bartley.
Even while thinking globally, Bartley has also operated locally. In June 2007, he and three friends bought Henry’s Pub & Grille on Downer Avenue to keep the long-time tavern from closing, and he’s developing plans for a new building to house WTC Wisconsin. (DB)
Angela Dresen, 37
Managing Director, The Leadership Center
Angela Dresen’s three children inspire her to work for a better community.
“Having children of color broadened my world,” she says. “I saw there really isn’t a level playing field at times.”
After an unsuccessful run for Milwaukee City Council in 2000, Dresen joined Public Allies, a leadership program for young adults ages 18 to 30, and was placed at the Helen Bader Foundation. Her work there led to a five-year, $1 million grant to create The Leadership Center at Cardinal Stritch, which works to train minority leaders.
“Angela aligns her values with her passion,” says Peter Holbrook, executive director of leadership and organizational learning at Cardinal Stritch. “She creates access and opportunities for others.”
In the past four years, Dresen created the Latino Nonprofit Leadership Program, which has 57 alumni and 19 participants in this year’s program. She also created an African-American leadership program and organized a speaker series on leadership.
“Participants learn to see a broader sense of possibility,” Dresen says. “They realize they have this power to affect change and live their lives in a much bigger way.” (DB)
Dr. Aoy Tomita-Mitchell, 37
Investigator, Children’s Research Institute, and Assistant Professor, Medical College of Wisconsin.
The life of Aoy Tomita-Mitchell and her husband, Mike, is a love story played out in a laboratory.
As Aoy worked to complete her doctorate in biological engineering and environmental health (with a post-doc in environmental microbiology), she developed a groundbreaking method to do large-scale genetic association studies and, with her thesis adviser, founded Peoples Genetics to propagate the technology. Mike, meanwhile, decided to specialize in pediatric cardiothoracic surgery. Together, they have founded four companies to spread the fruits of their labor, and they’re in the process of founding another – their biggest venture yet.
While pregnant with the couple’s second child, Aoy was given a quad serum test and told her baby had a one-in-10 chance of having Down syndrome. Her doctor told her to have an amniocentesis, but worried about the risks of such a procedure, she declined.
“I was crying the rest of the pregnancy,” says Aoy.
But that’s not all she was doing. Frustrated with the inadequacies of prenatal testing, she channeled her worries to figuring out a way to test for chromosomal abnormalities in a less-invasive way, using maternal blood instead of amniotic fluid. Today, the Mitchells not only have a healthy 3-year-old daughter (in addition to a 6-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter), but have also created a new test for genetic defects that’s safer, less invasive and costs a fraction of an amniocentesis. The test is pending FDA approval, but the Mitchells hope it will soon become the standard of care.
Most exciting of all, they’re in Milwaukee to stay. (KP)
Kenzie Reid, 13
Kenzie Reid learned to skate the way most of us learn to walk.
Born into a family of skaters, Kenzie first stepped onto the ice as a toddler when her mother, who was once a highly skilled ice dancer, brought her along to a skating class she was teaching.
The Brookfield native has been in Colorado since last May, training with an elite team of ice dancers in preparation for January’s national ice dancing competition in Cleveland, where she’ll compete with her partner, Adam Munday.
Kenzie skates from 6:30 to 8:00 a.m. every weekday, then heads to school until 12:30 p.m., when it’s back to the rink for another hour and a half, followed by ballet and stretching. She also takes three online classes to supplement her truncated school day.
“Some mornings it’s hard to get up, go to the rink and go to school, but in the long run, it’s worth it,” she says. “If I want to be at the top, this is what I have to do.” (KP)
Ryan Braun, 26
Milwaukee Brewers Outfielder
Clamor and celebration swirl throughout the Milwaukee Brewers’ clubhouse. It’s Sept. 28, 2008, and Milwaukee has clinched the National League wild card on the final day of the regular season. But star slugger Ryan Braun is suddenly ignoring it all.
Not that Braun, who hit today’s game-winning home run, hasn’t indulged in the fun. His soaked-through shirt and alcohol-stung eyes attest to that. But he wants to move the party elsewhere – to the field and the adoring fans that still pack Miller Park. After all, they’ve waited for this playoff berth since 1982, the year before Braun was born in Mission Hills, Calif.
“It’s incredible, man,” he yells above the din as he hurries down the corridor leading to the dugout. “We’ve been working a lot to get back here for this team, this organization and this city.”
While the Brewers are stocked with loads of young talent, it’s Braun who’s become the face of the franchise. In less than two full seasons, he’s amassed 71 home runs, 203 RBIs and a .301 batting average – numbers that rank with the best debuts in baseball history. He finished third in the 2008 NL MVP race and was the 2007 NL Rookie of the Year, even though he didn’t join the Brewers until May 25 of that season. Less than a year later, the Brewers locked up Braun through 2015 with the richest contract they’d ever awarded. (HM)
Omar Shaikh, 36
The Brown Deer native is a co-owner of three restaurants – Umami Moto, Carnevor and Charro. Plus, he serves as a board member of both the Urban League and the Governor’s Council on Tourism and as chair of the Business Advisory Council. Oh, and he has a wife, three children under the age of 5, two dogs and a cat. Not surprisingly, Shaikh says balancing all these interests is his biggest challenge.
Shaikh, who got his start working the door at clubs in Los Angeles before returning to Wisconsin, credits much of his success to the hard work of his partners, Tom Wachman and Michael Polaski.
“We complement each other well,” Wachman says. “We have the same vision.”
That vision centers on Milwaukee Street, which they want to turn into a mecca of trendy eateries. Watchman began opening night clubs along the street and Shaikh soon joined him, creating Sake Tumi, a trendy sushi restaurant. Shaikh sold Sake Tumi in 2007, but the Downtown block remains home to their other ventures.
One example of Shaikh’s Milwaukee-oriented style: The wait staff at Carnevor dresses in uniforms created by Aala Reed Clothing on Brady Street.
“We’ve partnered with local businesses to help each other succeed,” Shaikh explains. “It’s the chance to shape what contemporary, hip and trendy dining is today.” (KB)
John LaDisa, 32
Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Marquette University
How do you get to be just 32 years old with three high-level medical patents pending?
Franklin High School graduate John LaDisa credits his biology teacher, Pat Sands, and
an interest in math as two big reasons why he became an assistant professor of biomedical engineering. Now he studies the cardiovascular system, and his research has led to the creation of tools like a newly designed stent to restore blood flow and help remedy heart defects.
“John is engaged in cutting-edge, translational research that uses engineering to improve our understanding and treatment of cardiovascular disease,” says Dr. Kristina Ropella, chair of Marquette’s Department of Biomedical Engineering.
“Our particular lab is looking at changes in blood flow through the cardiovascular system and how that relates to disease,” LaDisa says. The results, he notes, could affect our knowledge of diabetes, stroke, heart disease and other diseases. (DM)
Lisa Edwards, 35
Assistant Professor and Director of Child/Adolescent Community Program, Marquette University
Social justice is a phrase that comes up a lot when talking to Lisa Edwards.
“I’m of mixed ethnicity,” says Edwards. “Both on personal
and professional levels, I have a passion for issues of diversity and social justice.”
To that end, Edwards transitioned from a first-grade teacher in 1998 to earning her doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Kansas in 2003 and joining the MU faculty in 2005. Much of her research centers upon Latino adolescents, using interviews and surveys to discover what factors help Latino youths succeed.
“It’s really trying to understand youth from a positive perspective,” says Edwards. “The field is always emphasizing pathology and what’s wrong with Latino youth – delinquency, low educational attainment, all of these very negative things.”
For her efforts, in 2006 Edwards was nominated for a Distinguished Professional Early Career Award from the National Latina/o Psychological Association. (DM)
Scott Reeder, 38, and Tyson Reeder, 34
Art is often considered a solitary endeavor. But for artists and brothers Scott and Tyson Reeder, inspiration comes from collaboration.
“We get some positive and amazing things out of working together,” says Scott.
With diverse interests that range from paint and film to music and art, the brothers continue to leave their mark on Milwaukee’s cultural landscape.
Growing up in Michigan, the Reeder brothers moved to Los Angeles and then came to Milwaukee to work with Chris Smith on the critically acclaimed American Movie.In Milwaukee, they quickly established themselves as entrepreneurial innovators, creating zerotv.com,an online showcase of indie filmmaking, and The General Store, an avant-garde art collective and gallery.
Though the gallery has since closed its doors, the Reeder brothers still curate shows across the country that feature renowned international artists alongside local artists. And they do it with an irreverent, anti-establishment flair that Liz Armstrong of The Chicago Reader called the “art-world equivalent of a crayon drawing on a mansion wall.”
The Reeders’ art has also gotten critical praise. Critic Roberta Smith of The New York Times called the works in Tyson Reeder’s first New York show “deliberately wrought and beautiful – and in their own way, deadly serious.” (KK)
Cory Nettles, 38
Partner, Quarles & Brady, LLP
Cory Nettles was just 32 when he was appointed Secretary of Commerce under Gov. Jim Doyle in 2002. The economy was booming.
“During his tenure, Wisconsin added 60,000 jobs, including more than 10,000 manufacturing jobs,” says Doyle. “Cory Nettles was instrumental in crafting ‘Grow Wisconsin,’ repealing the tax on job creation, and growing venture capital investment.”
After just two years, Nettles resigned to become a partner at Quarles & Brady, but he’s still involved in growing the economy. He is managing director of Generation Growth Capital, Inc., a private equity fund that assists minority and small business owners in low- to moderate-income communities.
“If we can get more minority companies to start and grow,” he notes, “this is an important strategy in addressing inner-city unemployment and poverty.”
No stranger to controversy (see another item about Nettles in The Mil, page 34), Nettles says he’s committed to upgrading Milwaukee. “I feel so strongly about our opportunities to be a great city.” (CR)
Chris Jaeger, 32
General Manager, Bayshore Town Center
Chris Jaeger oversees a small village with 45 acres, a thriving commercial district and housing for a population of more than 100. The 32-year-old is the mayor – make that general manager – of Bayshore Town Center.
After graduating from UW-Eau Claire in 2000, Jaeger crisscrossed the Midwest and became a retail guru while working for General Growth Properties at shopping centers in Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa and Eau Claire, Wis.
“In many respects, he functions [as a city administrator],” says Richard Maslowski, a Glendale city administrator. “Having someone of his caliber is critical for the success of Bayshore, and it’s critical for Glendale’s investment in Bayshore.” (DM)
Dr. Tito Izard, 39
Chief Medical Officer, Milwaukee Health Services
Dr. Tito Izard is an advocate for health care for the poor. “For me being a physician is more than just a career, it’s really my mission,” he says.
The nonprofit organization Izard runs operates two community health centers, the MLK Heritage Health Center and the Isaac Coggs Heritage Health Center, which together serve more than 23,000 low-income residents per year.
Izard is well-versed in all aspects of community health care: He earned a bachelor of arts degree in social work from Marquette University in 1992, a medical degree from the University of Wisconsin Medical School in 1996, and he took post-graduate studies at St. Luke’s Family Practice Residency from 1996 to 1999.
“I wanted to learn other aspects of health and wellness besides just the biological aspects,” he says. “I look at my role as a physician as part of a bigger destiny. I want to give the dignity and hard work that my parents gave to me back to my community.” (JMF)
Mick Trevey, 27
In 2003, his first year as a TV reporter for WBAY in Green Bay, a young Mick Trevey spent time covering the remarkable story of a Wisconsin man who was released from prison after serving 18 years for a rape that DNA evidence proved he did not commit. Two years later, and just weeks after Trevey joined WTMJ, Steven Avery was in the news again, this time as a suspect in the murder of Teresa Halbach.
“The station sent me up to the [Avery] family junkyard in Manitowoc County,” explains Trevey, who was honored by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association for his coverage of Avery’s conviction in 2007. “It was a tough case because the [Halbach] family was so close, such a good family.”
The Rockford, Ill., native graduated from Marquette in 2003 with a double major in broadcast and electronic communication, and political science.
“I try to be tough, but fair,” says Trevey. “I try to really understand and empathize with the people we’re covering.”
Alex Runner, staff assistant to Milwaukee Common Council President Willie Hines, says Trevey’s work stands out from the often “fluffy” coverage of broadcast journalism. “He’s a journalist who’s willing to dig and uncover the true story.” (DM)
Misty Torres, 30
Police Officer, District 3
Before joining the Milwaukee Police Department, Misty
Torres spent 10 years working customer service in the banking industry.
“You can tell she comes from a customer service background,” says officer James McNichol, Torres’ partner. “She has the ability to be a tough cop when necessary, but she also has a remarkable ability to communicate with difficult people. I once saw her talk a guy three times her size into handcuffs.”
As part of District 3’s Community Prosecution Unit, it is Torres’ responsibility to keep an open line of communication with central city residents as the unit tries to shut down nuisance properties and businesses.
Torres has had considerable success with such situations. “Misty epitomizes what it means to be a good cop,” says Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn. “She’s a real leader in the station house and in the community. I have great expectations for her career.” (SP)
John Riepenhoff, 26
Owner, The Green Gallery
With its movable drywall, unfinished ceilings and surrounding artful clutter, the Green Gallery might not seem like much. But the Riverwest warehouse space has become a place where cutting-edge artists and creators gather.
“I provide a venue for community,” says owner John Riepenhoff.
The Wauwatosa native began his career as a curator while still attending the UW-Milwaukee Peck School of Arts. During his final school year, he hosted more than 20 different artists in the attic of his apartment.
Riepenhoff now plans to open a second space closer to Downtown, to be named Green Gallery East.
“John is vital to the city’s art scene,” says Nicholas Frank, curator of Inova. “He has a great view of the social fabric of art and how important it is.” (CR)