Living Local tells the stories that connect us in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington & Ozaukee Counties through interviews and personal testimony. Hosted by United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County staff and donors, we cover topics ranging from fatherhood to homelessness, volunteering to school readiness…and everything in between. Our communities’ toughest issues affect all of us because we are all connected. Have a listen. Join us. Live United.



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Podcast: National Diversity Leaders Share Message of Dignity & Respect

Candi Castleberry Singleton (L) and Darlene Slaughter

August 8, 2017

Listen Now (00:25:47)


Diversity is a popular word these days. For most, when we hear the word diversity we tend to think of racial diversity. However, our guests today want us to expand our understanding of the word diversity as inclusive of all ages, abilities, religions, sexual orientations, backgrounds and, yes, races.

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Podcast: Brookfield East High School Tackles Racism with Conversation

The Conversations Count team: Toni Gray (second from left), Nalani (second from front left), Riley (second from front right), and Kellie Tutkowski (second from right)

August 1, 2017

Listen Now (00:26:27)


Did you feel like you “fit in” in high school?

This is a complicated question, and the answer can change depending on the day. Most teenagers experience at least a moment of self-doubt, of feeling different, of feeling that no one could possibly understand.

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Podcast: Celebrating Healthy Birth Outcomes with Tonda Thompson

July 28, 2017

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Today, we mark a couple of milestones for the Living Local podcast: Our one-year anniversary and our youngest (and cutest) guest to date! To celebrate one year of Living Local, we invited Tonda Thompson to join us again. Tonda was our very first interview in August of 2016, when she shared her journey from losing a child to working on the issue of infant mortality here at United Way. At the time, Tonda was finishing her tenure as a Public Ally with the Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families (LIHF) Collaborative, funded by WPP, and was preparing to move on to another job. Today, Tonda is back at United Way, once again working with Lifecourse to reduce racial disparities in and prevent infant mortality in the city of Milwaukee.

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Podcast: YWCA’s Jamaal Smith on Bridging Milwaukee’s Jobs Gap

July 20, 2017

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CORRECTION: In the July 11th epiosde of Living Local, Shannon Reed's professional title was incorrect. Shannon is Director of Innovative Strategies for Boys and Men of Color at United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Milwaukee is among the top five cities in the nation in poverty as well as in the bottom five cities in Black male and female employment. Milwaukee is also the most segregated metropolitan city in America, leading to limited opportunities for some in comparison to others.

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Podcast: Father & Son

July 11, 2017

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Fatherhood is powerful. Whether he is a biological father, a step-father, or simply a role model, having a man to look up to is critical to young men as they navigate the complications of life and growing up.

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Podcast: Waukesha Business Owner on Addiction, Recovery, and Compassion (rerun)

June 27, 2017

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Drug and alcohol abuse and addiction is a growing public health concern in Wisconsin and across the country. In 2013, more Wisconsin residents died from drug overdose than motor vehicle accidents. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reports that, in 2015, Wisconsin experienced 872 drug overdose deaths.

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Podcast: Kavon Cortez-Jones on Writing Poetry for Everyone

June 20, 2017

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“Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.”

When William Wordsworth said that, he was talking about the art created by poets like Kavon Cortez-Jones.

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Podcast: Empowering the Next Generation of Nonprofit Leaders

Brad Fisher (center), Holly McCoy (second from right), and members of the YNPN MKE board at a fundraising event.

June 15, 2017

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It’s graduation season and, for many young people, the time is right to explore available careers and find a satisfying and sustainable job. Each year, more and more emerging professionals choose careers that allow them to give back to their community. According to Deloitte’s 2015 Millennial survey, six in ten millennials chose their current employer because their role gives them a feeling of purpose. For many of these young people, that means a career in nonprofit work.

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Podcast: Telling Stories to Strengthen Community Bonds

Tiffany Miller (L) and Megan McGee, reading UltraShorts while emceeing Ex Fabula’s New Year Spectacular in January (photo credit: Art Montes)

June 6, 2017

Episode 1: Listen Now (00:26:46)



In our region, we hear a lot about what divides us. Our many differences can cause interpersonal conflict, mistrust, and fear. However, many of us learned from a young age to, when conflict arises or mistrust bubbles to the surface, take a moment to “walk in someone else’s shoes;” to consider the world from a different perspective.

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Podcast: Meet Milwaukee’s Teen Safe Sex Task Force

Steven Daniels (far right) and Keziah Carter (near right) with Sharonda Phipps and LaTeff Alston, Boys & Girls Clubs Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program staff

June 1, 2017

Episode 1: Listen Now (00:17:35)



What do you remember about your in-school sexual education class? Maybe you just remember feeling uncomfortable, or tuning out because you felt that you already knew everything you needed to know about sex.

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Podcast: On Race & Friendship

May 17, 2017

Episode 1: Listen Now (00:17:19)
Episode 2: Listen Now (00:16:18)



Think about your group of friends. What drew you to these particular people? Often, friends are those we grew up around, went to school with, work with, or met through the pursuit of similar hobbies.

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Podcast: Mary Lou Young Announces Her Retirement

May 10, 2017

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This episode is bittersweet: Mary Lou Young, who has served as president & CEO of United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County, will retire from her position after eight years of service.

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Podcast: PATCH Mends the Gap Between Doctors and Teens

May 2, 2017

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Think back to when you were a teen. Would you say you were comfortable opening up to your doctor about sensitive topics like sexual health, mental health, or drug and alcohol use?  Who didn’t cringe at the dreaded questions like “are you sexually active” or “could you be pregnant?” In fact, this uncomfortable feeling with telling your doctor the whole truth about your health may have even followed you into adulthood.

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Podcast: Simmi Urbanek, Advocate Extraordinaire!

April 25, 2017

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Remember those summers when you were too young for a job but too old to just hang around the house all day? What did you do to pass the time? Pre-teen Simmi Urbanek’s mom had an interesting solution: she dropped her two daughters off at their local United Way and said "find something to do!"

This began a long life of giving, volunteering, and advocacy for Simmi. After her first summer with United Way staffing charity root beer float stands, playing with kids at local agencies, and volunteering at a nonprofit coffee shop, Simmi stayed involved in volunteer activities through college.

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Podcast: From Survivor to Champion, Episode 2 (Re-run)

April 19, 2017

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Trigger Warning: This blog post and podcast contain recollections of and information about sexual assault.

1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men has been sexually assaulted…so why is it still so hard to talk about?

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Podcast: From Survivor to Champion, Episode 1 (Re-run)

April 11, 2017

Listen Now (00:17:30)



Trigger Warning: This blog post and podcast contain recollections of and information about sexual assault.

At the age of 21, Dawn Helmrich experienced a brutal sexual assault. This life-altering event had many negative outcomes for Dawn, including rampant victim blaming and lack of support during a traumatic experience on the witness stand. As a result of these experiences, Dawn has become one of Milwaukee’s most vocal advocates for victims of Sexual Assault through her leadership of the annual Denim Day. Each April, Denim Day brings awareness to sexual violence and helps end victim blaming.

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Podcast: How Sexual Assault Changed My Life

April 4, 2017

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“It came up casually in conversation. He died. What? No one thought that would be something I would have liked to know? It happened years ago, but to me it was like yesterday, every day. I relived the abuse daily. It affected so many facets of my life.”

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Podcast: Daring to Fail Differently

March 28, 2017

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What would happen if we threw our rules out the window and started from scratch?

This is the question Audra O’Connell asked her staff at Walker’s Point Youth and Family Center’s Emergency Shelter when she began her tenure as Executive Director in 2016. The shelter, which serves teens, had a list of rules governing everything from behavior to dress, but Audra did not see how these rules were helping impact the broader issue of youth homelessness in Milwaukee. In fact, 6 months after trying to run the shelter without rules such as “no baseball caps in the house,” Audra and her team found themselves serving more youth than ever before.

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Podcast: When Black Babies Thrive, All Babies Thrive

March 21, 2017

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Problems. The ones most people don’t have the stomach for. The ones nobody talks about at cocktail parties. The ones that can’t be solved overnight. We go looking for them.

These are the words in United Way’s new credo for 2017, and they perfectly describe the issue of Infant Mortality. Milwaukee has one of the highest rates in the country, with Black babies dying at nearly three times the rate of White babies. 

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Podcast: Representative David Crowley on Urban Underground, Yoda, and Building Influence

March 14, 2017

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There are many ways to affect change in our community. Here at United Way, we raise funds and mobilize volunteers around our communities most difficult issues. In Madison at the Wisconsin State Legislature, Representative David Crowley works with his peers on both sides of the aisle to advocate for issues affecting an area of Milwaukee that is close to his heart: the near-North West side. Representative Crowley intimately understands this neighborhood – it is where he grew up playing on the playground near his Grandma and Uncle’s house, and where he now resides with his family.

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Podcast: Violence & Equity Top List of Community Concerns

March 7, 2017

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What kind of Community do you want?

What is keeping us from making progress?

Who do you trust to take action?

These are some of the questions that the 330+ participants in United Way’s Community Conversations project answered in 2016. Participants from 70 zip codes, diverse in race and income level, and ranging in age from 12 to 95, shared their candid thoughts on what they see in their community when they walk out their front door every day. The 2016 Community Conversations year-end report was released on February 22 at United Way’s Annual Meeting.

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Podcast: Shaquita and Adrienne, Street Beat Team (Rerun)

February 28, 2017

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Here at United Way, we recently said goodbye to Living Local co-producer Rebecca Schimke, who moved on to an excellent position with Palermo’s Pizza. In her honor, let’s revisit one of her favorite interviews from 2016. 

This week we talk to two women who spend a majority of their time on the streets. They aren’t homeless but spend their time helping youth who may be experiencing homelessness and young people who need help finding resources or maybe just need a friend.

These two women are Shaquita and Adrienne. They are outreach specialists on the Milwaukee Street Beat team through Pathfinders and the Walker’s Point Youth & Family Center. Our conversation ranges from how they got the job to what some misconceptions may be about who they are working with.

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Podcast: Greg Marcus on Making Generosity Fun

February 21, 2017

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Who is the CEO of your bank? Do you know their name? Better yet, do you follow them on social media or see a commercial featuring them when you pay your bills? 

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Podcast: Looking for Romance? Swipe Right on Volunteering!

February 14, 2017

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If you’re in a relationship, how did you meet your partner? If you’re single and looking for a relationship, where do you usually go to meet people? If volunteering doesn’t spring to mind, maybe it should.

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Podcast: City Year Connects with Students to Transform Schools

January 8, 2017

Listen Now (00:16:29)



Only 61% of students in Milwaukee Public Schools graduate in four years. The remaining 39% may take longer than four years to graduate, or drop out of school completely. Students who drop out of school are eight times more likely to become incarcerated and three times more likely to be unemployed. Students who drop out earn roughly $1 million less over their lifetime than high school graduates. 

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Podcast: How a Volunteer Opportunity Led to a Career Path

January 31, 2017

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The motto for IT United, a United Way donor network group comprised of IT Professionals, is “connecting the dots.” Throughout the year, IT United members volunteer their time to put on an IT Career fair for college and high school students at UW-Milwaukee, as well as coordinating a variety of job shadow opportunities for these students to learn more about the IT field and connect with professionals.

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Podcast: Free Money for Families This Tax Season

January 27, 2017

Listen Now (00:12:44)



What would you do with an extra $265 dollars per month?

This is the average amount by which a low- to moderate-income family can increase their income when they take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC. However, in 2015, one in five eligible families did not take advantage of the EITC credit. 

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Podcast: Waukesha Social Worker Shares Personal Story of Hope

January 17, 2017

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Imagine that you’re suffering from a chronic disease. This disease affects your personal and professional life. It affects your overall health including your sleep and diet. This disease is something that has an official diagnosis and can be treated with professional therapy and medication. However, people in your community often question the legitimacy of your disease. They believe that you simply need to “think positively” or “turn your frown upside-down” to feel better and that perhaps you brought the disease on yourself. For the one out of every four people living with mental illness in our country, this scenario is often the reality.

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Podcast: From Loss to New Life. Death of Daughter Spurs Local Filmmaker to Action.

January 10, 2017

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A year ago last October, Joey Papa and his wife Nikki lost a child, Canaan. For the entirety of her brief life, Canaan, though never formally diagnosed, dealt with innumerable medical complexities and was what one might describe as a child with "special needs."

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Podcast: Human Trafficking Episode 2

January 3, 2017

Listen Now (00:18:04)



Think back to when you were thirteen years old. Were you secure, happy, and confident all the time? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably no. Thirteen is the average age when young women and men are forced or coerced into Human Trafficking. Traffickers look for people who are vulnerable; those who lack confidence in themselves and are looking for a protector-figure. Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking, regardless of gender, age, or socioeconomic status, and it happens in both urban and rural areas. In fact, the latest data shows human trafficking has become a $150 billion dollar industry worldwide. 

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Interested in Sponsoring Living Local?

We are looking for sponsors to help underwrite the cost of production.

As a sponsor, your company will be recognized at the end of each episode, as well as in all accompanying blog content. Your logo will appear on our Sponsorships webpage and your company will be listed in our annual Business Journal Recognition Insert. Additional recognition opportunities may be available. 

Contact Katie Kuhn at 414.263.8132 or via email.