Meet the 2020 Board Applicants

Check your email for the official link to vote.

Alexa Alfaro

Meat on the Street

I first heard about Local First MKE in 2014, when I started my food truck, Meat on the Street, with my business partner/ brother, Matt. I joined the Local First Milwaukee organization after talking with members who were in my industry. They praised LFM for connecting them with other businesses, suppliers, and tools/ resources. These members talked about how LFM was intentional about continuing to connect and support the local community in Milwaukee.
Over the past two years, I traveled the country for a cookbook I was published in, The New Filipino Kitchen. The other authors and I would discuss the positive movement happening for Filipino cuisine and culture as well as the obstacles we faced. I came back to MKE determined to continue voicing the positives and where improvement can be made. I am an active member of ElevAsian, a group of Asian professionals in the greater Milwaukee area dedicated to elevating awareness and the Asian community as a whole. From this group, I have fostered many relationships across multiple cultures and communities to better serve the Milwaukee community. From attending and conversing with other communities, I am able to give a voice to the underrepresented groups of people. I am a female, minority small business owner. When Meat on the Street started, Filipino food was being whispered about but very unknown in a city with less than a 10% Asian population. Over the course of 5 years, we have educated and advocated for our cuisine and in turn our culture. I thoroughly enjoy making people happy with food and feel proud to be representing my culture through business. I plan to bring all my above skills to the Local First Milwaukee board while listening and learning from the current and past leaders. The members of Local First Milwaukee are a diverse group of individuals. I feel the board should accurately represent the diversity of the members of the group and the Milwaukee community.
The awareness and exposure from participating, and winning the savory award, at Food Freight in 2018 to speaking on the 2019 panel of When Women Lead MKE. These events helped Meat on the Street and myself a female, minority business owner. I had received additional speaking events to continue educating Filipino cuisine and push the Filipino culture forward. My business received additional press from media outlets. People have come to the restaurant and brought friends and family. We also booked multiple catering events and a wedding. The wedding was the owners of Artery Ink who are members and used the majority of Local First Milwaukee members’ businesses as vendors for their wedding. This is exactly what Local First Milwaukee is about, supporting local businesses in Milwaukee.
It’s important because it has a mission that aligns with the organization but has statistics to back up the why members should. The quantitative data makes you want to commit and encourage others to do the same. My business uses local vendors as our suppliers, we attend events local to Milwaukee and donate and volunteer in the Milwaukee community. The support we received from people spending local is the reason why we have been in business for over 5 years and are continuing to grow and expand.
I am excited to bring diversity to the board, be around individuals who are passionate about their lives, business, and community, and to represent for females and Asians on the Local First Milwaukee board. Success is not a solo sport.

Elzie Flenard

Enterprise Now

Through networking with peers. I am a "Hometown" type of guy. I like the focus on Local business.
I love to meet new people and learn about their business. I tell the stories of business owners for a living and it gives me life! I would bring passion, energy and visibility to the Board.
I have closed business with at least one connection made at Local First that I can easily identify.
As a local business owner myself, I understand the challenges that come along with being the chief bottle washer. Local business is the driver for economic growth and community stability.
My mission is to change lives through enterprise and joining the board would help in that mission.

Kennita Hickman

Headshot Mke

Years ago, I wanted to start purchasing more Milwaukee based goods. I was also looking to build a relationship for local businesses to support artists I was managing. Been in love with the site ever since.
A love for Milwaukee Music/Arts background Project mgmt and brand strategy Access to millennial and communities of color
I'm not currently a member. I can say that the few times I've reached out to LF for help in finding... someone who makes local soap, I've always gotten a response.
There's value to having a convening space for local businesses and a place where consumers can find what they need.
The possibility of contributing to an org that fully supports Milwaukee businesses

Dawn Jacques

Milwaukee Paws

When I opened my business two years ago, I was looking for resources for local businesses
I am a trained social worker with experience in family court, juvenile justice and healthcare. I now own a pet care business. Interacting with clients/customers and having tough discussions are things I excel at and can offer insights to other business owners.
To be honest, I didn’t take advantage of the benefits until recently, but I see what an incredible service it is And with more small businesses would take advantage. I regret not being more involved my first year.
Being a small business owner is hard, but having a collection of other business owners with a wealth of perspectives is invaluable. The need to buy local and support one another is more important now than ever in the instant economy and world off on demand shipping.
Helping small business owners connect and not feel alone out there is the thing I would be most excited about!

Shannon Knapp

Milwaukee Blacksmith

I don't remember, it's been 10 years! 🙂
I hope to continue being a good board member, worker bee , connections maker and support in any way I can.
Thursday morning networking helped me make a ton of connections with companies I would not have otherwise found. Small business owners rarely make time for these events because we are so focused on the work. Local First and John Leidy helped me prioritize this important cog in my company machine.
I have switched many of the services my company utilizes to Local First companies. Supporting other family and local businesses like my own is a focus for us and the mission of LFM is just that.
I would be very proud to keep my seat!

Contessa Lobley

CC Consulting Group

The Local First Milwaukee newsletter
Nonprofit Expertise Small Business start-up Entrepreneurial skills Administrative skills
I have not been directly affected by Local First Milwaukee but I see how it is and can help many other businesses, employees and their families through its initiatives for the great good of Milwaukee economy.
It is a great resource to local businesses and entrepreneurs. Networking is key for a successful business.
Helping people and broadening my efforts to making Milwaukee a great place to live.

Debra May

Oasis Coffee Services

After deciding to help build Oasis Coffee Services, I looked for a network organization that would both help me connect with other local firms and also learn more about local industries. While I was new to area business groups, I thought it would be easier to start with a women's only group, and I attended a "When Women Lead" night as a non-member. I joined the next week, and meeting people with a common cause has enhanced my business and life.
I am passionate about learning about the origin of other people's businesses and how I can help them. I am comfortable reaching out to other local companies and inviting them to help share in the LFM mission. As a Life Coach and mindset mentor, I'm good at keeping things positive and inspiring change.
From the connections I've made and visiting other local businesses, I've gained new business and leads, and learned new ways to market and improve the services we offer.
Supporting our community and helping local businesses grow, helps to strengthen pride in our city, and highlights it as a safe place to raise families, attract new businesses and bring in additional capital. I've always been proud of what Milwaukee has to offer, and the Local First Mission aligns perfectly with that vision.
With the current expansion the city of Milwaukee is experiencing, I am so excited to be a part of an organization that highlights local businesses and promotes their individual growth!

Stephanie Melnick

Melnick & Melnick, S.C.

I first heard about Local First Milwaukee at When Women Lead 2018. We joined LFM the next day!
I am a business attorney with over 25 years of experience. My firm's focus is helping small and medium business owners start and grow businesses, protect their brands, and resolve disputes. As a Board member, I intend to share my knowledge and expertise with LFM's Board and members.
Through LFM, I have made valuable connections with local businesses who we've relied on for various goods and services including, for example, photography, event venues, and printing and signage. We've also expanded our referral network--both for business clients referred to us and services, like bookkeepers, we referred to our clients. LFM has been a great source of inspiration and speakers for our firm's She Stands Tall initiative, a community supporting women-owned businesses.
Supporting our community and helping local businesses grow, helps to strengthen pride in our city, and highlights it as a safe place to raise families, attract new businesses and bring in additional capital. I've always been proud of what Milwaukee has to offer, and the Local First Mission aligns perfectly with that vision.
I'm interested in helping LFM develop and implement a strategic vision for the organization and its members.

Molly Sullvan

Miss Molly's Cafe

I first joined Local First in 2012 when I started my business. I joined in order to meet other business owners and get the word out about my new business to people who value small and local businesses. I believe my mom was the one who told me about the organization.
I am very passionate about local business and supporting small business. Throughout my career as a pastry chef I have only ever worked for small businesses because I believe in the mission of supporting our local economy. I also have a deep admiration and respect for small business owners because they put everything they have (sometimes quite literally) into making their passion a reality. I believe that my strong organizational and leadership skills would positively contribute to the organization. I think that people are inspired by people living out their passion and owning a business is my passion.
When I first joined in 2012 I went to networking events and participated in Food Fright for two years in a row. I was able to meet a lot of supportive people and given the opportunity to showcase my products on platforms that may have not been available otherwise because at the time I did not have a storefront. I rejoined in 2019 after a couple of years of our storefront being open and I have been able to reconnect with several other business owners since then. When we hosted the networking event last month at the cafe I was happy and proud to see that several businesses that we work with are also members. Knowing this further strengthens my commitment to working with these local businesses.
The mission of Local First is important to me because I have a passion for small business and doing my part to make the climate for small business more viable and successful. I think that small business is vital to the bonds that make communities thrive. Small business owners face many obstacles and challenges to ensure the success of their operations so an organization like Local First that is there to support those people is of great value to our community.
I think the thing that excites me the most about joining the Board of Local First Milwaukee is to be involved in a deeper way with an organization who's mission is to uplift the small business owners in our community so that we can all work together to make Milwaukee a better city. Small business is at the heart of community and if my skills and experience can contribute to building that I would be happy to do what I can to be a part of it.