Collaboration, connection and community have never been more important. And, in greater Milwaukee, where we thrive on gathering, caring all with our collective lack of pretense, it’s vital that we converge to move the greater good forward.
I’ve said it forever: A city is only as good as the stories it tells. Tell and shout your Milwaukee story, but anchor it in action, optimism and purpose. So, days after this health crisis hit, as we were all digging in and finding ways to help each other, it was energizing to get a call from Todd McLees and Matt Cordio. Both are not only great human beings but thoughtful, smart big picture thinkers. So, when Todd and Matt connect and convene a group of people, big things emerge – or, in this case, converge.
Today, I'm excited to provide more information on one of Todd and Matt's collaborative ideas: Converge Milwaukee. It's anchored in the resilience of the Milwaukee region and built to last beyond the current crisis.
Converge Milwaukee, the brainchild of a collaborative group of Milwaukee-area leaders and entrepreneurs, believes every crisis brings out our best. That’s why the group banded together to help sustain local Milwaukee area innovators, entrepreneurs and artisans with a new online marketplace for care packages.
"Our mission is simple: to support community efforts to help individuals, families and businesses solve their grand challenges," said McLees, principal at Pendio Group, a Milwaukee-based management consulting firm.
In a few short weeks, Converge Milwaukee has gone from two entrepreneurs and an idea for a bag of coffee to more than a dozen community leaders, ten small businesses and nine students from the Elmbrook school district. It’s a growing effort that’s powered with the values of collaboration. And it is just getting started.
"The Artisan Marketplace is just a starting point," said Cordio. "It’s a simple example of what can be accomplished in a matter of days. And we are looking forward to quickly rolling out additional initiatives, with our core values in mind."
Converge Milwaukee believes every crisis creates the opportunity to do more. That’s why the proceeds from its growing network of business-sustaining efforts will support individuals and families that need help now more than ever.
"We need to celebrate the efforts of everyone who jumped in. From day one, this hasn’t been about one person or one group, but our collective ability to draw on each other’s talents to quickly create impactful outcomes throughout the region," added McLees.
Converge Milwaukee founding members include:
- Beth Ridley
- Burton Metz
- Erickajoy Daniels
- Erik Kennedy
- Ian Abston
- Jamie Miller
- Jeff Sherman
- JP Burkwald
- Malika Siker. MD
- Matt Cordio
- Michael Hostad
- Richie Burke
- Todd McLees
"This inspired effort will not only help sustain local entrepreneurs in a time of economic distress, but the related donations will enable the Foundation to provide increased resources to address urgent needs in the community," said Leah Fiasca, director of development for the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. "The Foundation is proud that Converge Milwaukee has chosen our MKE Responds Fund to benefit from the sales of their artisan market products and care packages."
The mental wellbeing of the greater Milwaukee workforce, our friends, colleagues and loved ones is a looming crisis, and every care package in the Converge marketplace does at least one of three things:
- They inspire the types of core values we need to build regional resilience and resolve.
- They bring comfort to people we care about, as we find ways to stay connected and build community.
- They enable wellbeing as we cope with the crisis and find new ways to be productive and add value.
Every care package or product purchased from the Artisan Market benefits these three groups: individuals, entrepreneurs and our regional workforce.
The anchor product in the marketplace is from Pilcrow Coffee, a limited edition coffee called Resilience Roast.
Other local product offerings include:
- The Brimful Life
- Evolve Brands
- Indulgence Chocolatiers
- Milwaukee Pretzel Company
- The Naked Baker
- Paper Pleasers LLC
- Pontem Milwaukee
- Satori Food Project
- Sprecher Brewing Company
New care packages will be added weekly.
"We invite people who align with our values to be part of the effort. We are actively looking for additional ideas for care packages, as well as other companies with solutions that can benefit from the momentum we create," concluded McLees.
Visit covergemke.com and, if you'd be so kind, please consider buying care packages for personal and business use. For every purchase made, all net proceeds are donated to the MKE Responds Fund at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.
Onward we go, Milwaukee.
A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.
He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.
Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.
He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.
He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.