‘Seat at the Table’ Celebrates and Empowers Local Young Professionals

The inaugural event encouraged peer to peer mentorship and networking with the goal of inspiring talent retention in Milwaukee.

On Saturday, July 29, the first-ever “Seat at the Table” event brought together and celebrated Milwaukee and its young talent and leaders with networking, a panel discussion and dinner at Saint Kate – The Arts Hotel

The event was created and hosted by Milwaukee natives Brandon Ramey of Quad and Braylen Stevens of Google and MBRACED in partnership with A.L.IV.E. Inc., an organization that helps students and young professionals prepare for independence at work and in their lives through training and work opportunities. A.L.I.V.E.  is also a co-sponsor of MKE Fellows, an initiative that offers support to young Black men as they navigate their careers after graduating from college. 

Brandon Ramey and Braylen Stevens at “Seat at the Table” 2023; Photo by Akaylah Hayes, Intellect Media Co.

“This really did start as a dream. It started as an idea,” Ramey said at the event. “One of the biggest things that I always think about is how can I give back to the city? How can I take some of my experiences I’ve had and bring that back home?” 

Ramey and Stevens started “Seat at the Table” to address the problem of young professionals leaving Milwaukee due to a lack of opportunities to engage socially and professionally, according to the press release. Through the event, they hope to inspire talent retention in the city and peer to peer mentorship. 

“Seat at the Table” 2023; Photo by Akaylah Hayes, Intellect Media Co.


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“We wanted to figure out how [to] create a space for young professionals, specifically ages 22 to 30,” Stevens said at the event. “And how do we start to bring ourselves together and celebrate right and celebrate in a very elegant way.”

The event began with a reception and cocktail hour, where the young professionals could network and take photos in a 360 photo booth. Grammy-nominated cellist Malik Johnson played throughout the evening. At dinner, folks were seated randomly to encourage new introductions and spark conversation.

Dinner was followed by a panel discussion by local C-Suite executives and business leaders Lashonda Hill, Vice President of HR Contact & Transaction Center at ABM Industries Inc.; Andrés Gonzalez, Vice President of Community Engagement and Chief Diversity Officer at Froedtert Health; Sherilyn Whitmoyer, Vice President Deputy General Counsel at Quad; and Maudwella Kirkendoll, Chief Operations Officer of Community Advocates. 

“Seat at the Table” 2023; Photo by Akaylah Hayes, Intellect Media Co.

The panelists shared their experiences that helped them get to where they are today, answering questions from Stevens, who moderated the conversations. 

“So often it’s easy for us old heads to write off younger generations because of all the stereotypes,” Hill said. “And there’s rooms like this that I think are really important for people to understand that you are invested in your careers, you are invested in what your futures look like.” 

The panelists also shared career advice and skills they’ve found to be valuable. Gonzalez said the three skillsets he finds important are conflict management, problem solving and communication. Whitmoyer’s were engagement, flexibility and vulnerability to be yourself. 

“Seat at the Table” 2023; Photo by Akaylah Hayes, Intellect Media Co.

“Treat yourself well and treat your community well,” Kirkendoll said. 

Ramey and Stevens said this event will be the first of many to bring young professionals together. They plan to continue hosting quarterly meetups. 

“We want to keep this momentum going, to keep us all connected and engaged. And so this is only the beginning,” Ramey said. 



Brianna Schubert is the associate digital editor and writes about art, culture and more at Milwaukee Magazine. When she’s not writing/editing, she’s likely reading (follow her book reviews on Instagram at @read_with_bee), cooking or listening to Taylor Swift.