Nearly five years into Filament Communication, we take a look at some of the coolest Milwaukee leaders we’ve come to know. From a MacArthur Genius on a mission to reshape eldercare, to a neighborhood fitness guru, to a sharp eco-friendly florist, these are a few of the greats in our city that inspire.

1. She Doesn’t Even Know How Cool She is…

Rebeca Lopez, Godfrey and Kahn

Rebeca Lopez, Godfrey & Kahn

Not long ago, we had the opportunity to sit down and have a heart-to-heart with Rebeca Lopez.  While we knew she was a rising star attorney at Godfrey & Kahn, we had no idea how cool she was.

Rebeca, named 40 Under 40 in the Milwaukee Business Journal, 2015, also worked as the Regional Coordinator for Russ Feingold after graduating manga cum laude at Marquette University. She is praised for her involvement in the Latino community statewide.This fall, she will be presenting at the Wisconsin Leadership Summit as one of the most influential leaders of color in business, government, and education. That’s pretty cool. 

Photo via Godfrey & Kahn


2. Sources Local, So You Don’t Have To!

Karen Gill - The Focused Fork

 Karen Gill, The Focused Fork

This beautiful human loves to cook and has traveled the world in search of the best flavors…

“…I had become obsessed with learning about food, where it came from, and how to best prepare it. This passion led me to explore recipes both locally and around the globe, like Japan, Australia, and Nepal.” 

– Karen Gill 

While Karen has had success as a Personal Chef for the last decade, she just launched The Focused Fork in 2018 (and we have loved every bite thus far!). With a team of personal chefs, she customizes meal plans for varied diets and delivers fresh, delicious food to clients each week.

Check out Karen’s first blog in which she talks why and where to source local: 7 Great Places to Find Local Food in Wisconsin.

Photo via The Focused Fork


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3. Inspiring Community Builder

Fred Carter, Carter1 Fitness

We love Fred. Neighbor to Director of Collaboration, Katy Corey,  Fred is bringing people together (and building confidence!) through affordable, fun fitness.

“My personal goal as a Fitness Instructor is to help a community of people find the conqueror within themselves and to thrive in health and wellness.”

– Fred Carter

Also, if you’re looking for some positive daily vibes, Fred is one of the most empowering people in our social feeds! Follow him on Instagram HERE.

Photo via Carter1 Fitness

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4. What the World Needs Now…

Mara Natkin & Gloria Ramirez, Artery Ink

Kelly Andrew, Founder of Filament Communication, connects with the wise souls at Artery Ink every month to exchange business and life advice, so she knows, firsthand, just how cool these ladies are.

True advocates for health and wellness, Mara and Gloria want to inspire people to learn about their bodies and how to take better care of themselves through art. They’re so good at what they do, The Medical College of Wisconsin has even taken note and incorporated their wellness + art work into numerous projects. Additionally, they were featured in Milwaukee MagazineArtery Ink’s Quirky Anatomical Prints Are Capturing Hearts.

Curious about their work? Check out their apparel and prints HERE.

Photo via Artery Ink

Image may contain: 2 people5. The Guy Who Introduced Us to Deadpool

Brian Schimmels, Keehn’s Transportation

Yes, Brian recommended that we watch Deadpool, and we are forever grateful. There are a few other reasons he’s made the list of cool Milwaukee leaders…

For starters, does your party need a designated driver? This is one of the agendas Brian pushes at Keehn’s Transportation Services and that makes him very cool.

He’s also completed 7 different Iron Man events! Why?

“Because I’m crazy! The first one was about accomplishing a  huge goal in a short time. I had never done a triathlon and in 6 months went from my first sport distance to a full Ironman. After that, it was about doing something for me. Every year is a new challenge for improvement.”

– Brian Schimmels


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6. On Mission to Change Elder Care

Anne Basting, TimeSlips

So, not to brag, but we know a MacArther Genius, and she’s beyond cool…

Anne Basting is a Gerontologist who has authored numerous books (Forget Memory, The Penelope Project, The Stages of Age) and journals, a professor of theater at UWM’s Peck School of the Arts,  and an Ashoka Fellow . How exactly do we know this brilliant human being?

We work with Anne and her creative team at TimeSlips, a non-profit she founded in 1998. It is an honor to be part of the “creative care revolution,” reshaping the way our society thinks of aging, memory, and dementia through storytelling.

Now located in 44 states and 15 countries, “TimeSlips opens storytelling to everyone by replacing the pressure to remember with the freedom to imagine.”

Photo via TimeSlips


Image may contain: 1 person, smiling7. Making Milwaukee Beautiful with Eco-Friendly, Local Flowers

Emily Watson, Wood Violet

Just down the street from Filament Communication resides our neighbor and friend, Emily Watson. What makes her so cool? She’s a flower farmer and owner of Wood Violet, creating seasonal designs for weddings and CSA deliveries. We’ve also seen her creations at events supporting local initiatives, like Tall Guy and a Grill’s recent Farm to Table Dinner.

Emily is committed to using locally-grown flowers and once shared… 

“I can almost always provide locally-sourced flowers. Overall, I am dedicated to selling all American-grown flowers, which is one of the few things that’s remained the same since starting my business.”

– Emily Watson

Lastly, we need to give a shout-out to her really cool husband, Nick, too! He’s got a great sense of humor, brews delicious home brews, and is Emily’s biggest fan.



DSC_20548. Business Owner + Volunteer + Local Music Scene Guru

Torrey Nagle, Better Partners
We LOVE music, and we LOVE meeting up with one of our favorite biz owners, Torrey Nagle. He’s always filling us in on the local music scene. Here’s a portion of the live shows he’s seen in the past 6 weeks
Flesh Panthers | Telethon | Late Bloomer | The English Beat | Cheap Trick | Pixies | Matthew Sweet | Mothership | Brother O’ Brother | Young Revelators | Lee Bains | The Glory Fighters | The Spits | Sheer Mag with Fury |  Sarah Shook | Psych Fest
President and Founder of Better Partners, Torrey helps companies increase efficiency and implement better solutions through Salesforce. He also volunteers for Local First Milwaukee.  He’s a busy guy, but he makes time to be part of the local scene, and that’s super cool. #worklifebalance
 Photo via Better Partners

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9. Up for a Dare

Maretes Hein, COR Improvements

A friend dared Maretes to start her own business, and she took it to heart. She read a few books, built an invaluable team, and, today, COR Improvements is thriving. It’s even been recognized by the Milwaukee Business Journal as one of Milwaukee’s most profitable  LGBT-owned businesses. 

What is COR Improvements all about? COR offers general home contracting services, specializing in kitchen and bathroom remodeling, and they’ve got a lot of happy clients.

“You will be treated with respect and provided excellent communication along the way. They do great work and have a sincere interest in what they do. If you want to work with great quality people, be sure to meet with COR before making any decisions.”

– Cilent

Maretes, proud owner, is also the President of BNI‘s Circle of Success chapter, and is obsessed with playing board games. 

10. Travels the World to Share Unique Craftsmanship

Meg Hopkins, Elements East

We treasure our friend, Meg, owner of Elements East in the Historic Third Ward. She’s behind the extraordinary interiors of some of the coolest Milwaukee homes, like local celebrity Molly Fae, TMJ4 (check out the before and after of her home HERE). If you’re not familiar with Elements East, here is a key component to their mission…

“Our world-travel gives us opportunities to hand select each piece in our collection of furniture and accessories, and allows us to learn the history and tradition that accompanies it. We honor the culture of the makers, respect their craftsmanship, and relish the unique stories of our imports. “

Meg is also Co-Owner to Kinetic MKE,  a “boutique movement studio”  in Riverwest. It’s a space we love and visit every Thursday (we love you, Trey Fry!). Learn how this business is transforming lives HERE

Photo Credit: Erin Highland Photography via Kinetic MKE


Todd Ruedt, Action Coach Brookfield11. He Gets It.

Todd Ruedt, Action Coach of Brookfield

Have you met Todd? We’d be surprised if you haven’t, because it appears Todd knows everyone.

He’s not only a cool Milwaukee leader for his connections and commitment to causes like the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, he’s really invested in helping small businesses grow and he provides a great deal of practical wisdom.

After years of running his own landscape business and being an award-winning business coach, Todd is starting a new chapter – and we get to be involved as strategic partners! We were even some of the first to walk through his new building, which is home to newly launched Action Coach of Brookfield. The space is being designed to bring owners, teams, and the community together for training, networking, strategic planning, and good old fashioned play.

Learn more about Todd HERE.


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12 . PR Wizard Crosses Finish Line, Again! 

Pam Kassner Ochowicz, Super Pear Strategies

Before Filament Communication, Pam championed our non-profit work with her PR wizardry at Super Pear Strategies.  And, when Kelly founded Filament, Pam was a proud supporter. She understands the focus, the sweat, and the risk it takes to own a business. 

Pam is also an 6-time Ironman triathlon finisher, and despite a number of health issues this past year, she’s remained committed to the sport. One of the coolest, most inspiring people we know around town, we are so grateful to know Pam.

“Every step forward – no matter how short or how slow – is a step in the right direction.”

– Pam Kassner Ochowicz 

The Filament Communication Team is Cool, Too!

We’re pretty cool, too. Check it out…

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We bike to work.

Our office is decked out with accessories from our funny friend, Jon Schulte of OFR Furniture, and a beautiful handmade desk, made by carpenter Guy Landgraf Jr.

We’re community driven and enjoy networking with Local First MilwaukeeCreative MorningsScale-Up, WWBIC, BNI, etc.

Our boss just wrote a #BrilliantBizBook chapter on inbound marketing (stay tuned!).  She’s also on Tyler Wagner‘s Business Blast Podcast – it’s 5 minutes of insight into Kelly’s brain!

Some of us have our own businesses on the side like our SEO Strategist, Greg Bernhardt, Owner of Physics Forums,  and Marketing Coordinator, Chris Troka, Owner of Milwaukee Underground Productions.

We volunteer! This past year, we put our marketing skills to work in support of Milwaukee Magazine’s Advertising Exec, Jane Stein, who ran for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Woman of the Year. And, each member of our team has delivered a meals on wheels route at some point in our lives!

We garden. 

We travel. Greg just got back from an adventure to Indonesia. He’s also been to the North Pole! Katy is conquering Rim to Rim of the Grand Canyon this October and Kelly’s got a trip to do yoga in Italy in the works for 2019.

Learn more about our cool team by checking our our bios, HERE


The Value of Human Connection

In the great big world of internet marketing, let’s not forget how crucial it is to build relationships – to connect face-to-face and celebrate each other’s initiatives and achievements. There’s just something special about true human connection, and these 12 cool Milwaukee leaders are a reminder of that. 

Looking to connect? We’d love to get to know you. 

Contact Us Today 


12 Cool Milwaukee Leaders We Know Around Town
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