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Honoring women who typically fly beneath the radar is what Emily Phillips’ Jackens awards are all about.

Want the envelope pushed? Call Emily Phillips, a local dynamo who isn’t afraid to disrupt the status quo in order to get the job done, whether she’s tending to her clients in her role as a financial adviser at Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc., or advocating for women as president of the board of directors of Professional Dimensions, a women’s organization in Southeastern Wisconsin.

In her spare time, Phillips founded The Jackens award ceremony to honor “badass women who are making a difference in Milwaukee,” as she boldly states. This year’s ceremony is Sept. 6, by invitation only. We sat Emily down to find out what this is all about.

What’s a jacken?

It’s short for jackenheimer, a word my grandmother used. It means rabble-rouser. She was always complaining about some jackenheimer who was trying to change the way things were done. Today, we would call them change agents. It captures being a nonconformist, a contrarian, a feminist of sorts.

How did this whole awards thing get started?

There are a lot of different awards in this city, but the people who win them are typically household names. I thought it would be cool if we could acknowledge women who are doing awesome work behind the scenes.

What are the award categories?

Last year, we had Rising Star, Risk-Taker, Nontraditional, The Crew – a group of women who have strongly advocated for each other unapologetically and helped them navigate their career, relationships, children, divorces, whatever. And then the Lifetime Achievement Award, which went to Pam Klein last year, for her work in developing affordable housing for seniors.

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Who chooses the winners?

I gather a very diverse group of women to look through nominations and choose the winners. I participate in the discussion but I do not control discussion. I don’t have power of veto. I want it to be of the tribe, for the tribe.

What can you tell us about this year’s nominees?

I can reveal that, in the spirit of inclusivity, we will have our first male Jacken award. We’re starting to introduce men into the conversation in a way that’s meaningful and impactful and helps advance women in the community. So this is the first year for the Man Jacken.

OK, I think I’m getting it now. And this all stems from your quest for world domination?

Yes. Sort of. It’s part of what I call World Domination 4 Good, which is a social enterprise movement designed to improve the quality and profitability of systems and lives in the world. Since I was a small child, I wanted to run the world. What can I say?


“And The Winner Is…” appears in the September 2018 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning September 3, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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