OnMilwaukee's The Future Is Female series is brought to you by Alverno College and features some of the most interesting, innovative and intelligent women in the city.
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! #AlvernoStrongJordan Dechambre is the Marketing & Communications Director of the Historic Third Ward Association. Dechambre adores her job and credits her perpetual curiosity for leading her to this point.
Dechambre was formerly the managing editor of MKE Lifestyle Magazine. She also served as a fashion expert and show host for Bon-Ton department stores across the country and has completed extensive work for Milwaukee non-profits.
But now, her heart is in the Third Ward and its many offerings to the community.
“The growth of Gallery Night MKE since my tenure at the Association has been filling my heart,” says Dechambre. "I’ve been very lucky. But the coolest part is I still think the best is yet to come."
Here are the 8 questions every female in the series answers:
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?
Jordan Dechambre: For me active listening means not only listening but actually hearing what someone is saying.
And I freely admit I struggle with it. Every day.
One of my strong Capricorn traits is wanting to solve any problem the moment I hear about it. Before someone finishes a sentence I am already formulating a plan. But that’s not always what people want. That’s responding, not listening. What that actually does is take ownership away from the person who is sharing with you and, in turn, you make yourself more important in the conversation.
It’s not the intent, but without fully listening and absorbing the information, you often miss the most important nuances and details. Sometimes a person just needs an ear, a shoulder. And often they would like to reach their own conclusion without input from the outside. Or, sometimes they simply want to be heard. Everyone deserves that respect.
The past few years I have been focusing on the act of listening, and only offering advice and counsel if it’s requested. It’s a daily battle.
2. What was the last subject you were curious about and then pursued to learn more?
Let me tell you, if curiosity killed the cat this kitten would be long gone. And it’s because of my robust curiosity that my career has taken the twists and turns that have brought me to the place I am today.
My degree is in Journalism, and I started out first as a magazine editor, then an interest in public relations led me down that path. My forever love of fashion brought me to my style expert role at Bob-Ton Department Stores. Then, digging more into branding and marketing, I started my own lifestyle marketing business and eventually accepted my current role at the Historic Third Ward Association.
You have to be endlessly curious — and have a bit of courage, too! — to allow your career to grow and change in so many ways. It’s certainly not something you can plan.
As of late, I’ve been fascinated by how social media — especially Instagram — is going through a transition now that the “influencer” effect is not as powerful as it used to be. People only want to be "sold” so much. So, how will businesses change their approach to social media now that “well, Kim Kardashian drinks it, so it must be good” is no longer the mindset? I’ve been studying national and local brands to see how they are changing their approach and returning to the idea of more honest, genuine content and communication.
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?
That’s an interesting question. I try to exhaust all options before asking for help, but I don’t think it’s because I’m a woman. I think it’s because I have worked independently, from home, for most of my career. And I’m an only child, so you just kind of “figure things out."
Now that I am working in an office environment — which is a whole new world for me — I do consult our executive director, Jim Plaisted, when I can't figure something out or would like his take or institutional knowledge regarding a particular topic. He always gives honest advice, and sometimes I take it. But even if I don’t directly apply his solution, I use his counsel to inform how I move forward.
I also have a wonderful network of trusted friends who have offered so much valuable guidance over the years. They are incredibly accomplished in their own right, and I feel very lucky to have them in my life.
4. What are your personal values? Who and/or what inspired them and how do these values affect your decision-making process?
I was raised by my mother and my maternal grandparents — and they all helped form and shape my personal values. My grandfather was my hero and truly the most authentic, genuine, caring and compassionate person I’ve ever met. There’s no question his gentle nature and kindness had the greatest affect on my values.
My values are pretty simple: be kind, do good. I’ve lived by that motto as long as I can remember. Hold doors. Smile at people on the street. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Accept. Embrace. Forgive. It’s the simple, most basic values that are often overlooked or forgotten. But they have the greatest impact on our society.
5. Technology and on-line communication/meetings/social has definitely changed over the years. Do these things help or hinder your growth – or both?
Absolutely both. Technology makes it so much easier for us to connect — especially for satellite work or with friends and family all over the world. But it also means, for many of us, you are never disconnected from work. I am an absolute workaholic; I‘ll be the first to admit it. And even when I try to relax, I glance at my phone or computer and think about all the things I could be getting done. I think it’s a very Gen X trait. Learning how to relax — and knowing it’s not just OK but valuable to disconnect — is something I am very much working on right now.
Perhaps even the bigger issue, however, is the impact on personal communication. Human contact is so incredibly important and I feel like we are losing that in the workplace and, for many people, in our personal lives. Instead of a call, email or Zoom, I’ll take a coffee any day. So much is lost when you don’t have that in-person connection.
I think technology is a great way to supplement our communication but I don’t think it should be the only way we are communicating.
6. Where is the farthest you’ve traveled and what is a thing or two you learned from the experience? And what surprised you?
The farthest I’ve traveled is Europe — France, U.K., Italy. I spent a week staying at a former monastery-turned-B&B in Tuscany before the pandemic. Although I had previously spent time abroad, I had never stayed in the same place for that long.
While I missed the modern conveniences – like when you really need a drugstore on a Sunday … I felt so much more connected to life and the idea of being alive. Food tasted better; just a tomato was a flavor explosion. The air was crisp. The natural beauty was almost overwhelming. It made me really appreciate the beauty that is everywhere.
One thing I learned? I never want to drive a car in Rome!
7. What are your favorite art forms? How do you challenge yourself to actively engage in the arts?
The arts are a vital part of my life — and not just because of the inspiration and emotion the arts provoke, but as the organizer of Gallery Night MKE.
I’ve always been a music and performing arts lover — and over the past few years I have started appreciating the visual arts more than ever.
During one of our recent Gallery Night events, we had a local news station on site interviewing gallery owners and artists in the Marshall Building. I was with the crew to facilitate the interviews, and was blown away by the incredible personal stories of how each of these people ended up in Milwaukee, creating or curating art. But there was one common theme — happiness. Each one, even if they ended up here out of tragedy, found solace, inspiration and truth in art. And that’s pretty powerful. And way too often overlooked.
I spend so much time working to grow and evolve Gallery Night MKE because I truly believe art is transformative. I like to watch people’s faces when I gallery hop. You can physically see their expressions change when they are inspired, uplifted, moved. It’s incredibly powerful.
8. How do you/your work move Milwaukee forward?
I spend my days – and often nights – celebrating the people and places that make Milwaukee — and the Historic Third Ward in particular — so special.
We have nearly 400 businesses in the Third Ward alone — many of which are small businesses. And that’s why my job is the BEST. I get to tell the world about places like Lela, Saffron, the vendors at the Milwaukee Public Market, MARN Art + Culture Hub — the list goes on and on.
A city is only as strong as the people and businesses who raise it up. And that’s what I try to do every single day.
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.