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Chris Abele

Emerging Industries | Startups
Managing director
CSA Partners |  Milwaukee

As an entrepreneur, real estate investor, venture capitalist, former Milwaukee County executive and philanthropist, Chris Abele has left a mark on Milwaukee in various and occasionally overlapping capacities over the past three decades.

Abele served as Milwaukee County executive from 2011 to 2020. During that time, the county’s mental health system was overhauled, and public-private partnerships helped drive down homelessness rates in the county. Meanwhile, efforts to increase funding for local governments went largely unrealized, and the county has had to delay maintenance of its parks, infrastructure and cultural institutions.

Abele was chief executive officer for seven years of the Milwaukee-based Argosy Foundation, a charitable trust founded by his father, Boston Scientific co-founder John Abele, and he remains a trustee of the foundation.

Earlier in his career, Abele co-founded and later sold SteriLogic Waste Systems, a hospital services business. He also founded and continues to run CSA Commercial, a Milwaukee-based real estate company that owns commercial property in Wisconsin, New York and Maine.

In 2013, Abele committed $10 million to launch CSA Partners, a venture capital fund focused on investing in early-stage companies in the Midwest. CSA was an early investor in gener8tor, Scanalytics, zizzl, Bright Cellars and Agricycle. In 2015, he and his business partners founded Ward 4, an accelerator hub located inside the Pritzlaff Building in Milwaukee.

Outside of his VC investments, Abele has donated millions to Milwaukee community organizations. Projects he’s recently backed included the African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin’s new headquarters, Milwaukee Film’s renovation of the Oriental Theatre and Milwaukee Area Technical College’s free tuition Promise programs.

Abele was also involved in the founding of Milwaukee Film, Milwaukee Shakespeare Company, and Nō Studios.

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