Thriving with inclusive economic activity, from innovative start-ups to global industry leaders
Beautiful and filled with culturally relevant and creative spaces reflective of our diverse community
Collaborative and innovative in talent development and education so that all Milwaukee residents experience a great quality of life, from cradle to career


December 2021

Dear GMC Members:

This time of year, we typically reflect on the successes and challenges of the past 12 months, and look forward to a new year. Clearly, our most significant news was the announcement of Joel Brennan as our new President beginning in mid-January. We are grateful for outgoing president Julia Taylor’s work and commitment. She has made an indelible impact on our organization and Milwaukee, helping us get closer to realizing our mission of making Milwaukee the best place to live, learn, work, play, and stay.

The Greater Milwaukee Committee’s work in our three pillars of Innovation and Talent, Economic Prosperity, and Vibrancy of Place continued with significant progress across our initiatives. While the detail follows, here are the highlights:


We stood up a temporary committee to help deploy vaccines in our community.

We were an important part of a coordinated community effort to ensure that Milwaukee Tool moved their headquarters to downtown Milwaukee.

We continued our work with other community groups to help move the sales tax forward.

Our Anti–Displacement Fund has been very successful as we help long-term residents stay in their homes as their neighborhoods change.

We served 42 companies through our Growth Accelerator and SPARC.

Strategic programs including Forward 48 served hundreds of students and young leaders to ensure that Milwaukee is a region filled with innovative and diverse talent.

MKE United is in Year 3 of the Anti-Displacement Fund, designed to help prevent gentrification and displacement due to rapidly rising property values and taxes in historically disinvested neighborhoods. The fund has been supported by corporations and foundations. Individual donations to the fund at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation are welcome and can be made here. In addition, MKE United created the Diversity in Appraisal Industry Framework, and collaborated with Wisconsin Policy Forum on Up To Speed: Technology challenges facing Milwaukee’s small businesses and with the Urban Institute on Neighborhood Investment Flows in the City of Milwaukee.

Scale Up Milwaukee hosted two SPARC accelerators in 2021, serving entrepreneurs of color and women-owned businesses with revenues from $100k-$1M. The 2021 Growth Accelerator program for business owners from $1M-$15M re-launched in 2021 with a new virtual format. Scale Up Milwaukee continues its work in closing the generational racial wealth gap through business growth and has the support of regional and national funders, and assisted the Wisconsin Policy Forum and MKE United on Up To Speed.

The Commons serves a diverse population of talent reflecting those living in our region from K-12 to emerging and C-suite leaders. The Commons Virtual Career Accelerator served 100+ students in 2021 and unique collaborations with MKE Tech Hub on FOR-M and Destination Innovation with Molson Coors served another 75 individuals. Forward 48 continued its new tradition as Milwaukee’s premier civic leadership succession program, with 95 participants in 2021 and a uniquely talented faculty including many GMC members.

Vibrancy of Place connects to each of our initiatives as we focus on the assets and opportunities of our region. In the area of Creative Placemaking, the GMC is a partner in the Beerline Trail Urban Park Development which brings together the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods to grow prosperity, provide equitable green space, and meet resident needs. In 2021, we hosted a four-part webinar series on the Beerline Trail, and if you missed an episode, check out the recordings on our YouTube channel. We also concluded a fundraising feasibility study for the next phase of development – more to come in 2022.

The Racial Equity and Inclusion Committee continued its work to examine how we can, as an organization, continue to be a part of our community’s equity commitment by becoming anti-racist. Committee members and GMC board members had the opportunity to participate in Groundwater and Phase 1 Training offered by the Racial Equity Institute, and in early 2022, a version of that program will be available for all members. In addition, book groups continued to meet and discuss 2021’s titles: Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad and The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap by Mehrsa Baradaran.

We’ve continued to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, and while we had hoped to begin gathering again in person, we remained in virtual settings due to community spread and the rise of the Delta variant. We plan to resume in person meetings in February, when the most recent COVID wave is expected to decline.

I look forward to our work together in 2022. You are the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and your participation is more important than ever as we begin a new era of our organization’s community leadership.


Thank you for your membership and your support.



Greg Marcus


After George Floyd’s murder in 2020, the Greater Milwaukee Committee formed the Racial Equity and Inclusion Committee, chaired by Cecelia Gore and Wayne Morgan.

The goal of the GMC is to become and encourage our members to be anti-racist organizations. The GMC will also seek opportunities to leverage our influence to achieve measurable change throughout our region. 

In 2021, the committee’s focus was deepened by participating in the Racial Equity Institute’s Phase 1 two-day training designed to develop the capacity of participants to better understand racism in its institutional and structural forms. This training allowed us to gain a common language and perspective and prepare for a racial equity audit happening in early 2022 by Gilbert and Associates. 

Members participated in racial equity book clubs throughout the year, offering a space to candidly discuss their personal thoughts and experiences while strengthening their education on important and historical racial justice issues. Equity and anti-racism was a present topic at membership meetings throughout the year with speakers like Bob Feldman of the Dialogue Project; Rip Rapson, CEO of the Kresge Foundation and Kevyn Orr, partner-in-charge, U.S. Offices of Jones Day and former Emergency Manager of the City of Detroit; an Equity Along the Beerline Trail series; and a GMC day at the Mandela Exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum. The GMC also made internal changes to our hiring practices, supplier diversity vendors and budget, and updated goals with complementing strategy for a more diverse board, membership, and staff. 

We know this work is only the start and strongly believe that change can happen if we all work toward common goals.