From the President

January Letter from the President

We had an exciting membership meeting in January, with Mayor Barrett and Reggie Moore highlighting Milwaukee’s plan for reducing and preventing violence within our communities through the Blueprint for Peace. They walked through the six goals and key strategies. I had the honor of serving on the Steering Committee for the Blueprint for Peace along with other GMC members, businesses, non-profits, and foundations. Now more than ever, we need to address the issue of violence in Milwaukee. Violence is a public health issue, and when it affects one of us, it affects us all -the economy, education, and the vibrancy of our communities, all issues we are extremely passionate about. This community-wide plan identifies actions to reduce violence and build stronger communities.

Goal #1 of the Blueprint is “Stop the Shooting. Stop the Violence.” The best way we know how to do that is to interrupt the cycle of violence our communities are experiencing.  Based on the violence reduction strategies we have seen in large metro areas such as Chicago and New York City, The Office of Violence Prevention (OVP) deemed a violence interrupters program to be a first step in reduction in Milwaukee, called Ceasefire, one integral piece of the Blueprint. Utilizing violence interrupters, those who have experienced violence and trauma and are now willing to prevent it, work to interrupt a violent situation before it escalates.

This New York Times article quotes an interrupter as saying “You don’t go preaching – you build relationships and bond with them,” he said, “It takes time.” And, over time violence interrupters have proven to be successful in areas like Chicago, whoseCure Violence model has seen a 41-73% drop in shootings and killings in Cure Violence zones. Milwaukee’s Ceasefire program, modeled after the Cure Violence model, aims to do the same.

Ceasefire is currently planned to launch in two of Milwaukee’s most violent neighborhoods. Many of you have asked how you can support the Blueprint and its efforts. The City of Milwaukee Health Department’s Office of Violence Prevention is currently fundraising for the second site of Ceasefire. This program uses violence interrupters to deescalate heated situations before they become violent. For a better understanding on violence interrupters, please watch this PBS Documentary, called “The Interrupters”, highlighting their work. It truly is a remarkable and successful concept, having aided in the 16% reduction in violence in Chicago, overall.

The OVP needs $280,000 to facilitate a second site of interrupters. If you are inclined to give, gifts can be made to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation Violence Prevention Fund by contacting Mark Maurice at or 414-336-7067.

Special recognition should be given to those who participated in and funded the planning process, including a grant from the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment, with partial funding from the Tides Foundation and ReCAST Milwaukee. We’d also like to recognize Bader Philanthropies for a gift of $100k, announced immediately following the release of the Blueprint, GoogleGreater Milwaukee FoundationBairdPriebe Family FoundationAnon Charitable Trust and the Croens Foundationfor their generous gifts to aid in the creation of the Blueprint. Additional thanks to the Common Council, the Office of Violence PreventionMayor Barrett and the City of MilwaukeePresident HamiltonMilwaukee Public SchoolsMilwaukee County, and the community. I’d also like to thank the steering committee, including GMC members Ellen Gilligan, Peggy Troy, and Mary Lou Young, as well as Amy and Fred Croenand Les Weil for their diligent and committed efforts towards this Blueprint. 


Julia Taylor
Greater Milwaukee Committee

December Letter from the President

We look forward to an exciting 2018 full of promise. Our success in 2018 will be built from our progress in 2017, working with the City of Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention on a new plan for a safe Milwaukee , building together greater economic prosperity, vibrancy of place, and an innovative and talent filled Milwaukee. There is still much work that needs to be done.

In 2017 we helped drive region-wide business growth, workforce talent development and retention, improvements in school quality and curriculum, and improved teacher recruitment and retention rates. Our initiatives and strategies are deployed by our staff, our partners, and our members, like you. We summarized our achievements below, demonstrating the impact our work –your work- is having in Milwaukee.

As we look forward, here are our team and GMC members’ wishes for Milwaukee in 2018

 “That Milwaukee continues to prosper, and that the prosperity is spread more throughout the community. Also, that Milwaukee becomes less of a hidden gem.” – Greg Marcus, Marcus Corporation

“Health and wellness for all.” –Cristy Garcia-Thomas, Aurora Health Care

“That Milwaukee would embrace positive change.” – Elizabeth Cizinsky, Greater Milwaukee Committee

“That we can continue progressing on the positive trajectory that we achieved in 2017.” – Elmer Moore, Jr., Greater Milwaukee Committee

“A stable environment with ample education and health and wellness resources for all youth.” – Heather Pechacek, Greater Milwaukee Committee

“Unity.” – Shawn Allen, Greater Milwaukee Committee

“That we start saying more nice things about Milwaukee, while building capacity to support those who are actively engaged in solving our challenges.” – Michael Hostad, Greater Milwaukee Committee

 “Decrease in the amount of young deaths in Milwaukee.” – Samantha Giles, Greater Milwaukee Committee

“For more people to be doing more things and taking leadership positions.” – Joe Poeschl, Greater Milwaukee Committee

“To increase cross-cultural conversations city-wide, regionally, and state-wide.” – Tony Panciera, Greater Milwaukee Committee

“Authenticity. Have difficult conversations about our own perceptions of each other. Intentionality. Be more purposeful in making connections and sharing your network with those around you. Growth mentality. When looking at the dynamics of power and resources, it’s not about redistributing the limited pie, rather, about baking a much bigger and ridiculously tastier pie, together.” – Leana Nakielski, Greater Milwaukee Committee

 “Increased compassion for each other and understanding of what it’s like to be in others’ shoes. Understand each other’s struggles.” – Rich Greene, Greater Milwaukee Committee

“For people to be honest about the issue of race and the power around it.” – Julia Taylor, Greater Milwaukee Committee


Our wishes can come true if we work together towards that north star of a better, great and equitable Milwaukee. Milwaukee is thriving, it is growing, and it can be greater for all of us.

Happy holidays, and cheers to a prosperous New Year!


November Letter from the President

Published November 21, 2017

Technology has become a foundational element of our society. The way we communicate, do business, travel and manufacture our products is reliant on technology. As a growing region that is now attracting international companies like Haribo, Foxconn and potentially, Amazon, our ability to match the demands of a technology centered economy is more imperative than ever.
Milwaukee is home to some of the world’s largest innovative and technology focused companies -GE, Johnson Controls, Rockwell Automation, ManpowerGroup, Northwestern Mutual, FIS and Fiserv…just to name a few. Our biggest issue is a regional shortage of tech talent. As we learned at the past GMC membership meeting, the need for more tech talent increased exponentially with the entry of Foxconn into the region. Foxconn plans to invest in an entrepreneurial and innovative ecosystem in Milwaukee, which will create 13,000 high wage jobs. This is an opportunity for not only Foxconn to call on our region to develop innovative ways to support Foxconn’s products, but also for industries that already call Milwaukee home to be recognized on a national level.
The good news is that a collaborative group of academic leaders, innovative corporations, and regional-minded civic leaders are coming together to grow a talent pipeline in support of new companies to the area as well as those that helped build Milwaukee into what it is today.
We’re seeing examples of this work already:
  • On November 1, Northwestern Mutual hosted a large summit to support the creation and growth of a sustainable tech hub.
  • Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. and Aurora Health Care each are committing $5 million to venture funds that will invest in startup companies in the Milwaukee area.
  • M7 formed a regional team focused on growing and attracting tech talent working with a number of partners including higher educational institutions, workforce investment boards, K-12 systems, and corporations.
  • Last weekend, Northwestern Mutual partnered with The Commons to host a 32-hour innovation “Hack-It Bracket” that brought together nearly 100 college students from 16 colleges and universities in the region to build innovative technology solutions for NM.
  • Existing initiatives like Milwaukee Succeeds aligns in meeting the talent needs.
These are just a few examples that illustrate how our region has the necessary assets and mindset to meet our growing talent demands. With urgency, transparency, and collaboration, we have come together to take advantage of the opportunity to grow the talent pipeline of the future. As the Governor noted at the bill signing for Foxconn, while there were worries whether Foxconn would keep their promise to the region to create 13,000 jobs, he worried whether we could keep our promise to Foxconn to fill the jobs. This opportunity for prosperity for so many in our region compels us to keep this promise.
Finally, I invite you to come see the future of innovative talent in action at The Commons’ upcoming Demo Day on November 28. The Commons’ Fall cohort comes to a close with 11 student teams presenting innovative solutions to challenges put forward by companies like Kohl’s, We Energies, and Sartori Cheese. For more details and to RSVP, visit
Julia Taylor
Greater Milwaukee Committee

September Letter from the President

Published October 3, 2017

At our most recent membership meeting, Jonas Prising and the panel (list panel members) clearly defined the importance and role of corporate culture. Locally and internationally, Manpower’s  purpose is defined as “meaningful and sustainable employment has the power to change the world.”
Corporate culture is defined as the set of attitudes, values, goals, and practices that that characterize an institution or organization. It is the values we publicly share with the outside world, shaped by the actions inside the four walls. It is our responsibility as leaders to manifest our corporate culture into one of community culture. We work tirelessly on being innovative, attracting and retaining talent, growing our economy and businesses, and making Milwaukee a safer community. This is an incredible opportunity for us to take best practices for defining a corporate culture into defining a culture for our community.
Recently, the Public Policy Forum released its newest report “Cultivating Innovation: Is metro Milwaukee prepared for the new knowledge-based economy?” With the participation of GMC’s Elmer Moore on the PPF Viewpoint Panel, we learned how Milwaukee is trending with peer cities in regards to talent and an educated population, factors that have shaped the goals and culture of our region for the past decade.
The key findings of the research were:
  • The Milwaukee area’s talent pool is strengthening and appears to be competitive with our peers. Educational attainment is rising and the region’s workforce is competitive with our comparison metro areas in its concentration of individuals employed in occupations associated with knowledge and innovation.
  • Our region is underperforming in its rates of business development and business survival. While entrepreneurship activity appears to have slowed nationally over the long term, the problem appears to be particularly acute in our region. In addition, metro Milwaukee’s rate of business survival does not appear to make up for its sluggish pace of business creation.
  • Capital formation remains an area of concern for the region. Federal grants and federally-guaranteed loans for business startups, expansions, and R&D activities have declined at a faster rate in metro Milwaukee than nationally, and Milwaukee underperforms almost all of the peer metro areas in attracting venture capital funding.
It was also noted by all that Milwaukee is having an incredible moment right now, a moment that can and will define our future. What becomes of that moment will define our culture, and a strong engagement from community leaders will ensure a culture of success and innovation for all our businesses-start-ups and mature companies. At the Foxxconn bill signing, Governor Walker ended the event with a challenge to all of us, “Everyone is concerned about Foxconn living up to their promises; Wisconsin must also live up to our promises to Foxconn. Key to keeping our promises is aligning all our talent and innovation systems.”
We are in a time of new buildings, job creation, and international recognition for attracting Haribo and Foxconn. It is an opportune time to leverage this growth and create a culture that Milwaukee wants and needs, becoming a driving point for talent attraction and retention, economic prosperity, business growth and innovation.


Julia Taylor
Greater Milwaukee Committee

August Letter from the President

Published August 17, 2017

“Human potential is a catalyst for business and economic success. For young people to be part of that success, we must help them tap into opportunities. It is vital they can access options to reskill, to adapt to new technology, to relocate to take on jobs in other regions and countries, and to learn on-the-job, online and in the classroom. If business, government and citizens want to ensure sustainable growth, they must partner to make these options available to youth.”
Jonas Prising, Chairman & CEO, ManpowerGroup
Huffington Post 2015
Meet Katrina, a UWM graduate, who after thinking her education and career were over, leveraged her experience with The Commons to a software engineering position at Kohl’s. The Commons is connecting innovative students to local businesses, and creating “real world” project experiences. “It’s nice to just see that with hard work, with dedication, with drive, if you still have that fire to be successful, you can be successful.” It’s the drive and dedication Katrina was empowered with through The Commons that we are dedicated to spreading throughout the region. The Commons has provided the region’s most innovative students with the challenges our regional businesses are facing, all while preparing a new generation of city leaders and influencers who will stay in Milwaukee. It’s a prime example of how our initiatives impact our members and Milwaukee.
“The Commons is cultivating the next generation of entrepreneurial talent and connecting them to top employers.” Jonas Prising
With the pending arrival of Foxconn and tens of thousands of jobs, the world sees Milwaukee as a competitive marketplace. The strides we’ve made building a social infrastructure for our economy, education systems, and talent retention are positioning us to be able to sustain this growing region for generations to come.
“It is important for businesses and educators to collaborate to ensure the right things are taught in the right way to develop the talent that is the lifeblood that allows our community to grow. This notion extends to K12 educators as the development of talent needs to start very early.”
Todd Teske, President & CEO, Briggs & Stratton
MKE Fellows is ensuring access for African American males, in order to strengthen equity and integration within our region, promising a future of integration and educated leaders. MKE United is allowing you to share your input on a strategic plan for the greater downtown and stronger and more prosperous neighborhoods, ones that will create jobs and increase quality of life. Scale Up is telling our region’s growth story, impacting the ambition of all businesses in our region, increasing exports within our region, ensuring a stable source of economic development. What does this do for you? It creates the future we all want for Milwaukee and the city we call home.


Julia Taylor
Greater Milwaukee Committee

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