By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Jul 05, 2023 at 8:01 AM

Alverno College, for over 135 years, has strived to educate and empower women to realize their leadership, strength of voice and potential to lead in the working world. Alverno’s support of “The Future is Female” continues to showcase and exemplify these efforts by supporting the stories of grit, resilience and strength of character of present, past and future leading women in the Milwaukee community! #AlvernoStrong

Ellee Grimm Ingle is the magic behind the Cactus Club programming. She handles all of the booking, production and social media for the Bay View music venue – that's more than a Bay View music venue.

"Cactus Club is an artist-run multi-disciplinary arts and performance space that aims to foster meaningful relationships, highlight important artistic voices, develop local talent and provide high-quality arts programming to folks near and far," says Ingle.

Recently, the group launched the Cactus+ nonprofit to broaden the reach of arts education and community-building programs with workshops, youth internships and accessibility initiatives.

Ingle returned to Milwaukee – and the DIY music scene – after graduating from Berklee College of Music in 2021. Her band, Honey Creek, will release a new record later this month.

"When I moved back I was searching high and low for a position where I was able to utilize my music degree in the Milwaukee area; I eventually landed a job at Cactus Club and it was a perfect fit," says Ingle.

OnMilwaukee recently had the opportunity to chat with Ingle and ask her eight questions based on the "8 Abilities" that all students achieve with an Alverno degree: Communication, Analysis, Problem Solving, Valuing in Decision-Making, Social Interaction, Developing a Global Perspective, Aesthetic Engagement and Effective Citizenship.

1. What does active listening mean to you? Do you consider yourself a good listener, and if so, how has this helped you in your personal and professional relationships?

Especially when working with other artists through Cactus Club I always try my best to have an open ear. There’s a lot of power in sharing resources and growing as a collective, and I think being an active listener is always the first step to forming a strong community of people willing to help each other be the best versions of themselves. 

2. What was the last subject you were curious about and then pursued to learn more? How did you pursue it?

A huge shift in my creativity was learning how to produce and engineer music on my own. It’s a very male-dominated space, and it’s highly competitive, but as a songwriter it feels like a necessity to be able to walk into any room and be able to speak the language and be on the same page as my peers regardless of gender identity. I started in my childhood bedroom, started taking it seriously in college and am actively getting better all the time. 

3. If you can’t figure something out yourself, what source or person do you turn to first? How long do you wait before you ask for help? As a woman, do you think you wait longer to reach out?

In all honesty, I consult YouTube daily. At a very young age I first taught myself how to write and perform music, and learned as much as I could about the music industry entirely through social media. YouTube was also my first creative pursuit. I made a lot of vlogs and posted almost all of my art there and it was eventually the first paycheck I ever received early on in high school, so it feels like second nature to head online first and try to figure things out. I don’t really feel like I go that route because I’m afraid to reach out to others, it just feels like the most streamlined method a lot of the time. I know I’ll be able to find exactly what I’m looking for.

4. What are your personal values? Who and/or what inspired them and how do these values affect your decision-making process? 

My mom has always really inspired me to be as authentic as possible and have a strong sense of integrity. She wears her heart on her sleeve, is always incredibly honest and does everything she can to support and uplift those around her. I take a piece of her into every interaction big or small; she makes me want to be the best person I can be. 

5. Technology and online communication/meetings/social has definitely changed over the years. Do these things help or hinder your growth – or both?

Definitely help. There are some obvious negative aspects to being constantly connected, but I can confidently say I wouldn’t be doing the job I’m doing or be half the artist I am without it. Most of the communities I’ve been deeply involved in throughout my life have first formed online. I really feel like at 26 I was a part of the first generation of kids who really grew up finding their voice in a digital space. 

6. Where is the farthest you’ve traveled and what is a thing or two you learned from the experience? And what surprised you?

I have always craved new adventures and when I was applying to college without fully thinking it through I said in my application that I’d be interested in living in Valencia, Spain for my entire freshman year. I didn’t really anticipate being accepted to Berklee. I had been all DIY with songwriting and music all the way down and knew almost nothing about theory. To my surprise, at the end of my audition the judges said that I had for sure made it in. I had completely forgotten I’d opted to study abroad in the application, and when I received my acceptance letter I scrambled to get a new passport and a student visa in time. I think my biggest takeaway from that experience was to embrace uncertainty. While I felt initially unsure of my own abilities and carried a small sense of fear over the way everything I knew completely flipped upside down in a matter of weeks, it was truly the most inspiring life-changing experience and I am forever grateful I took that opportunity.

7. What are your favorite art forms? How do you challenge yourself to actively engage in the arts?

Songwriting is home base for me – almost everything I’ve pursued creatively has that at its core. There is just nothing else in music that touches that same level of emotional vulnerability in my mind. It’s so multi-disciplinary by default and feels so creatively liberating. I love finding myself in rooms of total strangers to write a song. I usually leave feeling like maybe I know everything there is to know about everyone in the room. It's like I got a little window into their souls for the day. It’s challenging to put yourself out there and be vulnerable at times with people you’ve never really met, but that also means there are no limitations or preconceived notions based on what anyone in the room has done in the past. 

8. How do you/your work move Milwaukee forward?  

With Cactus Club and especially our nonprofit Cactus+ we want to provide space for people to develop their skills as artists, build community, and grow to their absolute full potential. Milwaukee has such a rich and diverse music and art scene. We want to help show the world what Milwaukee is made of.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.