Black - Milwaukee Wave
It takes guts to be a
game-changer, says Milwaukee Wave soccer club owner Sue Black, but she
subscribes to Helen Kellerís philosophy, "Life is either a
daring adventure or nothing."
"Whether itís the chapters
in your life, or books in your life, the only thing you can be sure of
is thereís going to be change," Black says. "You either
embrace it, or not."
A UW-Madison alumnus, Black has been a
change agent throughout her career. As Wisconsin State Parks chief,
she was the youngest and only woman among the 50 directors of state
parks nationally. During 10 high-profile years as Milwaukee County
Parks director, Black recharged the parks system and put together
public-private partnerships to help offset budget pressures, earning
national recognition for her accomplishments.
When Black was
dismissed from the directorís position in 2012 by County Executive
Chris Abele she again was faced with change. Change, she says,
"tests your character" and when she
"soul-searched" about whether to move on to another state,
"I realized just how much I loved this state and this community
and leaving just didnít feel right." ĽIn April, Black became
the new owner of the Wave. She says she plans to reintroduce the Wave
to the community, and has started by unveiling a new team logo,
uniforms and website in its 30th anniversary year. She is also
energized by the opportunity to work with the charitable arm of the
team, Wave of Hope. ĽBlack is the only female sole owner of a menís
professional soccer franchise in the United States. "Itís been
that way my whole career, it was always a manís world," she
says. "But itís about results, and the more you can prove
results, the better."
J.J. Watt - Justin
J. Watt Foundation
About the only strike
against J.J. Watt in these parts is that he is a dominating defensive
lineman for the Houston Texans, not the Green Bay Packers. Just think
about the possibilities if Watt joined Clay Matthews on the defensive
While Watt doesnít play for the Packers, he is still making
his presence felt in Milwaukee, his hometown of Pewaukee and the rest
of the state. Watt is the founder of the Justin J. Watt Foundation,
which provides after-school sports opportunities for children in
Wisconsin and Texas.
"One of our main points of emphasis is
that when kids have an after-school sport to look forward to at the
end of the day, they stay alert and perform better in the
classroom," says Watt, who in 2012, his rookie season, was named
the NFL Defensive Player of the Year after notching 20 1/2 sacks and
batting down 16 passes. "I also think athletics teaches kids a
lot of things that they can use both on the field and in everyday life
ó discipline, work ethic, time management, teamwork and
leadership." ĽFor Watt, who played college football at
UW-Madison, it was natural that half of the foundationís funds be
directed to Milwaukee and Wisconsin. "This is where Iím from
and where everything really started for me," Watt says. "Iím
trying to give back to Wisconsin as much as I can and also my new
hometown of Houston and Texas.
In his downtime, Watt relishes the
opportunity to return to Pewaukee. "I really enjoy spending time
out on the lake, just relaxing with friends and close family," he
says. "The people are so great and itís always fun to go back.
I enjoy everything about Wisconsin."
For Bruce Keyes, a
partner at the Milwaukee law firm of Foley & Lardner, the secret
to effecting change is "getting the right people around the table
to focus on a project and make it happen." With that formula in
mind, Keyes has been instrumental in shepherding many of the areaís
most exciting developments from conception through ribbon-cutting and
Since 1997, Keyes has been actively involved with the
nonprofit Menomonee Valley Partners, transforming what was once an
industrial wasteland into one of the cityís most visible success
stories. He played a key role in "demystifying the environmental
issues" and helping the organization gain site control of key
properties that were redeveloped into the Harley-Davidson Museum,
Canal Street Commerce Center, Urban Ecology Center and Three Bridges
Park. ĽKeyes is past president and on the management committee of
Friends of Hank Aaron State Trail. Working on the expansion of the
trail from Miller Park to 124th Street and Bluemound was tremendously
satisfying, Keyes says.
"My legal/professional practice is
really urban redevelopment," he says, "and every project I
work on is either finance, real estate or brownfields, and some are a
combination of all three." ĽHis latest project borrows an idea
from cities like Boston, New York, Montreal and Paris. Keyes is board
president and co-founder of the nonprofit Midwest BikeShare, which
plans to bring 250 BikeShare bicycles and 25 kiosks to Milwaukee by
next spring. With a daily or annual membership, BikeShare participants
can pick up a bicycle at any self-service kiosk and return it to any
"It evolved because Milwaukee just needs it,"
Keyes says none of the projects heís been involved with
are one-man shows: "Whether it has been with other individuals,
or organizations, or funders, or the city, state and county over the
years, it has always been many hands."
Whether his involvement
is professional or personal, Keyes says he pursues these and other
community projects because he is passionate about the city. "No
way I would put in the hours and effort if I didnít love it and love
seeing the results."
Dawn McCarthy -
Milwaukee Preservation Alliance
As president and
full-time volunteer for the nonprofit Milwaukee Preservation Alliance,
Dawn McCarthy works to renew the architectural profile of the city by
honoring its history.
"Knowing the story of how your community
evolved makes where you live more meaningful," McCarthy says.
"I know how much I appreciate the architecture and culture and
history of the community. I feel weíre responsible to future
generations to retain, to some extent, that character as well."
The primary mission of the member-supported Alliance, McCarthy says,
is to advocate for historic preservation of buildings that make
Milwaukee unique. That often means educating the community about
particular properties that have historic significance and testifying
at Common Council committee meetings and public hearings in support of
preservation and adaptive reuse. ĽAt the moment, McCarthy and the
alliance are focused on the restoration of Old Main and the Ward
Theater at the Civil War-era Soldierís Home. The alliance convened a
coalition of organizations, including veterans and neighborhood
groups, Friends of the Hank Aaron Trail and the National Trust for
Historic Preservation, to work together to get the buildings repaired
and adapted to the needs of todayís veterans.
"Two years ago
there were gaping holes in the roof of Old Main and they had been
there for a year or two," McCarthy says. "It was through our
advocacy efforts that we were able to encourage the VA to take the
necessary and required steps to protect those buildings."
ĽMcCarthy says there are solid economic reasons to promote historic
preservation. A city that maintains its architectural authenticity
tends to attract young professionals, become a destination for
tourists and create local jobs.
"I donít feel a city should
be put under glass," McCarthy says. "We hear we want to stop
all development, we want to freeze time or create a museum and really
none of that is true of our efforts. We believe a building needs to be
used in order to survive."
Mark Young - ABCD
In both his
professional life as a lawyer and his volunteer work as board
president of ABCD: After Breast Cancer Diagnosis, Mark Young has
clarity of purpose.
"Iíve been practicing law for 37-plus
years and Iíve been with Habush, Habush & Rottier for 26-plus
years," Young says. "All throughout, our firm has been involved in
representing injured people and helping people in trouble, and also
encouraging community involvement, so thatís a strong theme for all
ABCD was an emerging nonprofit organization in
1999, when Youngís wife, Erika, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Founded by television news anchor Melodie Wilson, who lost her battle
with breast cancer in 2009, ABCD provides one-to-one mentoring,
information and support for people diagnosed with or affected by the
Young says Wilson organized ABCD because she "was
struck by the fact when she was diagnosed that there wasnít anybody
whoíd been through it to talk to." ĽReferred to ABCD by her
surgical nurse, "Erika became one of the original mentors with
the organization," Young notes.
passed away in 2005, I continued with
our familyís support." About four years ago, he joined the ABCD
board of directors.
Today, ABCD has more than 300 trained and
experienced volunteer mentors, all of whom have been personally
affected by breast cancer, and offers a national 24/7 help line.
"There are many different forms of breast cancer, many different
stages, people in different economic circumstances and life
circumstances," Young says. "We successfully match people with
someone whoís walked through that situation before."
plans to expand throughout the Midwest and beyond, Young says, and is
working to make one-to-one personal mentoring part of a national
standard of breast cancer care.
Young says through his work as a
lawyer in helping people whose worlds have been turned upside down and
his familyís experience in battling breast cancer, he understands
the importance of simply having somebody to talk to. Ľ"You do
whatever you can to provide that kind of support and help," he
Abston - NEWaukee
Ian Abston really,
really likes Milwaukee. And if anything, that might be understating
his passion for the city. "Growing up in Elkhart Lake, Milwaukee
was this big, intimidating city," he says. "Then I moved
here after college and realized it was the friendliest big city. Itís
walkable, bikable, and there are so many great opportunities
When Abston moved here after college, he read about so
many "cool places" to see but didnít have a group of
people to experience them with. So with his co-founder Jason Larcheid,
he started NEWaukee as a way for young professionals to network,
socialize and explore the city. What began as a small group of friends
in 2009, has quickly expanded into what Abston says is one of the
nationís largest group of young professionals.
programming and events include everything from cultural events, happy
hours with live music, behind-the-scenes tours, an adventure club and
networking opportunities. In April, NEWaukee organized a well received
Young Professional Week.
John Graham Jr., a global treasury analyst
at GE Healthcare, was an early convert to NEWaukee. "I had a good
group of friends here, but when I (attended) a NEWaukee event I was
hooked," Graham says. "I can honestly say that NEWaukee is a
big part of why I chose to stay in Milwaukee for the long term."
Graham says Abston was born to lead a group such as NEWaukee.
"His personality is perfect for this," Graham says.
"He has the ability to engage people and when he hears an idea he
likes, he goes with it and works on details later. That has allowed NEWaukee to host fantastic events and grow at a rapid pace. Ian is
tireless and in constant motion."
Jacobson - Froedtert Health
was not actively seeking to leave Rush University Medical Center in
Chicago. Of course, opportunities like the one she was offered by
then-Froedtert Health President and CEO William Petasnick in 2010 donít
come along that often.
"When I recruited Cathy as our CFO, I
was looking for someone who not only had strong financial and
analytical skills but was also a great strategist," Petasnick
says. "I was also looking for someone who could be my successor
and help take our organization to the next level."
on July 1, 2012, Jacobson became Froedtert Healthís new president
"Iíve always had a passion for academic medical
centers and the special place they have in our health-care
system," Jacobson says. "I was intrigued by the chance to
work with Bill and really have a chance to make an impact."
Already, Jacobsonís leadership was instrumental in the
collaborative, Quality Health Solutions, which in September announced
a new accountable care initiative that will provide coordinated care
to more than 100,000 Wisconsin residents enrolled in United Healthcareís
employer-sponsored health plans. It is one of the nationís first
multiple-system accountable care organizations.
has adjusted to life in Brookfield as easily as she has fit into her
new job. "Itís a very livable city and day to day life is so
much better when youíre not dealing with 50 to 90 minutes of traffic
just to get to work," she says. "There are so many hidden
gems. Weíve been here three years and we feel like weíre still
The time she saves commuting, she plows
into a steady stream of service work, serving on six boards.
"When you reach a leadership position, you have an obligation to
your community beyond your own organization," she says. "You
go into it thinking you can contribute your expertise and then you get
so much more out of it. Itís very personally gratifying."
Turner - Dear MKE
television producer Jack Turner is pretty sure about this: If youíre
going to tell Milwaukeeís story, it had better be real. Turner is
one of the creative forces behind Dear MKE, a tourism branding
campaign for VISIT Milwaukee thatís a multimedia love letter to the
Turner has a tricoastal perspective on what should make
Milwaukee famous. Based in New York, his work often takes him to Los
Angeles, and he gets back to Milwaukee often.
After graduating from
Whitefish Bay High School in 1991, he went to college on the East
Coast and worked for a major motion picture studio as well as on
independent films. Among the feature films heís worked on are Steven Soderberghís "Traffic," Terry Georgeís "Hotel
Rwanda" and Michael Mooreís documentary, "Bowling for
Columbine." Turnerís television projects have not yet been
Jonathan Jackson of the Milwaukee Film Festival contacted
Turner more than a year ago and asked him to do a series of video
profiles for Dear MKE, portraits of Milwaukeeans who, Turner says, are
doing great things.
He responded by producing videos about people
who, in their own way, personify Milwaukeeís spirit. Itís a
different take on the idyllic beauty shots that typify most tourism
"We just felt that was a more honest way of showing off
the city," Turner says, "and we could get the support of the
city and people who live here. If it doesnít feel true, then it
doesnít really work."
Turner, working with Barry Poltermann
of AboutFace Media, finds the cityís story in the details of his
subjectsí lives. His portrait of Reginald Baylor reveals that the
artist drove a truck to support himself before becoming successful
enough to devote all of his time to art. Turner was struck by the
moment Baylor realized he didnít have to drive a truck anymore.
ĽHis piece on Harley-Davidsonís Bill and Willie Davidson includes
some authentic home movie footage.
"You see Bill Davidson
riding on a motorcycle for the first time. You see that for them,
motorcycling has been a part of their whole life," Turner says.
He notes that thousands of people have viewed these and other videos
on dearmke.com, and Turner predicts that as more true-to-life videos
are made and released, other cities
will follow suit.
Henken - Public Policy Form
In a highly
charged and polarized political climate, Rob Henken, the president of
the Public Policy Forum, says the PPF will continue to do what it has
for the last 100 years: strive to enhance the quality of public policy
decision-making in southeast Wisconsin with nonpartisan and objective
"I think the forum is the best thing in Milwaukee
since the all-you-can-eat fish fry," says noted Milwaukee
historian John Gurda. "Itís vital to have a clear voice
speaking to the issues of the day, a voice everyone can trust. The
forum is exactly that."
Since he joined the PPF in 2008, Henken
earned two national awards for reports he authored on the Milwaukee
County Transit Systemís fiscal crisis and structural reform in
Milwaukee County government.
Previously Henken worked in Milwaukee
County government, directed a pair of nonprofits and worked on Capitol
"He may be the only person in Milwaukee who can get along
with everyone," says Mordecai Lee, a professor of governmental
affairs at UW-Milwaukee. "Rob has the perfect blend of
experience, education and temperament for this role. He is an
even-tempered, disciplined leader who knows how to avoid the quicksand
and sand traps of the policy-making and political world. He is playing
the long game rather than trying to win todayís headline or
After growing up outside of Boston and living in
Washington, D.C., Henken says he made an easy transition to Milwaukee.
He appreciates the easy access to cultural and entertainment options
and the character of the city and its people.
in Milwaukee tend to under appreciate the cultural and entertainment
assets we have here," he says. "Itís an accessible city
and a wonderful place to raise a family."
Upchurch - VISITMilwaukee
Milwaukee is a
great place to visit ó just ask residents of northern Illinois.
Ľ"When we went down to Taste of Chicago a few years back and
interviewed people, we found that if they come to Milwaukee once, they
come at least two or three more times," says Paul Upchurch,
president and CEO of VISIT Milwaukee. "Itís a market weíve
worked very hard to get a good foothold in."
Since he began
leading VISIT Milwaukee in 2010, Upchurch and his staff have seen
those efforts to attract visitors from Illinois pay off. Events like Summerfest, ethnic festivals, the Wisconsin State Fair and attractions
like the Milwaukee Art Museum are bringing tourists to the city.
"Weíre seeing a shift where a larger percentage of
ticket-buyers are from northern Illinois," he says. "They
love Milwaukee, and theyíre marketed by a million other events in
the Chicago area and lots of other cities and destinations."
Why do they love Milwaukee? "You get here, itís a beautiful
day, you see that itís easy to get here, we have phenomenal hotels
ó you just see a great city," he says.
VISIT Milwaukee also
concentrates on bringing groups and conventions to the city. A major
coup was landing the Connect Marketplace meeting plannersí
convention last August. Connect Marketplace brought 539 meeting
planners who book national conventions to the city, many for the first
time. "In the U.S., there are almost 220 convention centers, so
we have a lot of cities competing for this group," Upchurch
Upchurch, who also chairs the Governorís Council on
Tourism, says most Milwaukeeans donít fully understand the
significance of tourism to the local economy. According to a state
report, tourism accounted for $1.6 billion in direct spending in
Milwaukee County in 2012, "and it ripples through the economy at
almost $2.9 billion," Upchurch says.
Tourism also accounts for
nearly 30,000 full-time jobs in the area, which Upchurch says is his
"When you see the streets full of
people, restaurants full, hotels full, big lines to get into the art
museum, it gives great vitality to the city," Upchurch says.
"At the end of the day, you know youíre having an impact on
Lubar - Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design
An interest in
art led Madeline Kelly Lubar to the Milwaukee Institute of Art and
Design board of trustees in 2006.
"I knew nothing about higher
education," she admits. Nonetheless, she immediately began making
an impact. "There wasnít enough buzz around town about MIAD,"
Lubar says. "I saw that MIAD needed to be better known in our own
She and husband David Lubar initiated the signature
fundraising event for the arts school, Creative Fusion. "We
raised over $300,000 that first year," she says. "Thatís
real money for this small school" where 97 percent of the schoolís
700 students receive financial aid.
As her involvement with the
school grew so did her emotional commitment. "Iím increasingly
impressed by how hard the staff, faculty and management work to serve
the students," she says. "Itís very moving and touching to
see the lengths people will go to make the student experience a good
And once they graduate, MIAD students stick around, Lubar
says, noting that 80 percent of grads stay in the Milwaukee region and
find work at places like Harley-Davidson, Kohlís Corp. and GE
Healthcare, among dozens of other businesses. "We donít have a
brain drain problem. Our creatives continue to contribute to our
Lubar is now board chair and works closely with
MIAD President Neil Hoffman to bring ideas to fruition, continuing to
raise MIADís profile and also to deepen the educational experience
for art and design students.
The MIAD Creativity Series, founded by
the Lubars, brings in nationally known artists for programming with
students and the public. Thereís also a new residence hall being
built on the Third Ward campus and a new initiative with Marquette
University to develop a joint industrial design/engineering program.
The volunteer experience has been a rich one for Lubar. "What I
did not expect was to just fall in love," she says. "It is
so fun to walk in that door. There is always something different,
always fresh. Itís a really enjoyable place to be."
photographed with a 1967 first edition Excalibur, part of the Brooks @
20 exhibit at MIAD.)
Segura - Milwaukee Brewers
he was just 18 or 19 years old, a coach in the Los Angeles Angels
organization told Jean Segura to keep playing hard. "You might be
in the big leagues soon," he says.
After playing in just one
major league game for the Angels, Segura was traded to the Milwaukee
Brewers in the 2012 Zach Greinke deal.
Since then Segura has not
only proven heís major-league caliber but a Major League All Star.
As the Brewersí starting shortstop in 2013, the 23-year-old Segura
posted ridiculous numbers, finishing second in the National League for
triples, second in stolen bases, eighth in hits and averaging well
over .300 in hitting for most of the season, ending the season at
.294. His defense, too, was a nonstop highlight reel as he displayed
great range and quickness in the field.
In 2012 he played in the
All-Stars Futures Game; in 2013 he was an MLB All Star. "With
everything, Iím trying to do the best I can," the soft-spoken
His love of baseball hasnít changed since he was a
boy growing up in the Dominican Republic where he would round up the
guys for a game. Even if they didnít have a baseball he still found
a way to play by wrapping up a makeshift ball. "I always had that
energy," he says.
He admits it wasnít too long ago that he
was just a kid; thatís one of the reasons he has joined teammate
Martin Maldonado in a Telemundo television show, "Devolviendo Con
Amor," which means
"Giving Back, With Love."
Debra Lopez says itís a way for the Latin-born players to leave a
legacy. "(They) love the opportunity of giving back to the Latin
community here in Milwaukee by sharing some of their personal
thoughts, private moments and, most importantly, offering advice to
the younger generation," she says.
Segura acknowledges advice
from a pro athlete can have a big impact on a young person, and he
hopes his doing-his-best approach to life will inspire others.
Rinka - Rinka Chung Architecture
For as long as
he can remember, Matt Rinka wanted to be an architect. He grew up
outside of Oconomowoc in a passive solar house built into the
hillside. The design ensured that the house would be warm in the
winter and cool in the summer. "I knew then that I wanted to
design buildings of some sort," he says. "I also went to
Europe with my parents a couple of times and was influenced by the
houses and spaces that I saw there."
Now, Rinkaís firm, Rinka
Chung Architecture, is designing buildings that are defining the city
itself. He and his team designed the 30-story The Moderne, a high-rise
building that was honored with an Award of Merit in ENRís Midwest
Project of the Year competition. Rinka Chung also will design the
planned, The Couture, on the cityís lakefront, which will feature
hotel rooms, apartments and retail space.
"Iím excited about how itís progressing and it can be such a huge
plus for the community," he says. "A strong downtown is only going
to bode well for the rest of the region. Within the next five years,
I think we have a chance to change the perception of how Milwaukee
is viewed nationally."
Rinka, who moved back to Milwaukee after
working in Seattle and New York, says his passion for sociology and
his love of the city inspire his work.
"Architecture is such a
huge part of the way we develop or donít develop as a society,"
he says. "Iíve always been interested in how people live. How
we design will impact the way the space is (utilized)Thatís a fun
part of what we do."