For our first Leadership Kenosha meeting after our retreat, we spent most of the day at Circa on Seventh. The first activity of the morning was to set ground rules for how our group would approach our work with each other. First and foremost, we agreed to be respectful – respectful of each other’s ideas, to listen, to be honest, and to be inclusive, among other things.  For a group of people who were strangers just one month ago and who all bring different strengths and styles of working, it will be important to remember the ground rules when we get into the nitty gritty of our projects.

Next, we had Alexandria Binanti Robinson from Downtown Kenosha Inc. (DKI) talk to us about DKI’s vision and current initiatives for downtown Kenosha. She spoke about the business vacancy rate downtown and DKI’s goal to support new local businesses to decrease the vacancy rate. It was really cool to learn more about the building restoration and preservation projects they’ve been involved with.

Going into the day, I was most anxious about my team getting matched with our project. We had received descriptions of the projects ahead of time, but I was interested to hear directly from the sponsors about what their vision was for each project.  The five local nonprofits who are sponsoring projects this year are Herzing University, Kenosha Public Library, Shalom Center, Society’s Assets, and the United Way.  All of the projects sounded interesting, and I’m excited to see how each group conceptualizes their project.  Our team is very excited to be working with Herzing University on planning and executing a Nonprofit Rush Week!

Lunch was spent with Mayor John Antaramian who spoke about his vision for Kenosha and some of the new developments that will be coming to the city in the future.  I particularly appreciated his insight on strategies to improve crime rates in the Uptown neighborhood without gentrifying the area too quickly and displacing the current residents.

The afternoon was dedicated to a City Scoping activity with our project groups.  We were tasked with traveling to different places that make Kenosha, well, Kenosha!  Our group had a great time getting to know each other better and had a lot of laughs along the way.  I even got to ride the trolley for the first time, and I’ve lived in Kenosha for over four years now.

Our final presenter for the day was Julani Bayan, and he spoke to us about his perspective on diversity, equity and inclusion.  He spoke about how every person has a story and the best way to break down barriers is to get to know someone. You never know what you might have in common with someone who on the surface seems a polar opposite.  It was an engaging presentation to end our day and a powerful and thought-provoking message!

– Karly Kattenbraker

Leadership Kenosha — October 2019