‘Milwaukee’s Finest’ cultivates next generation leaders

While the Milwaukee’s Finest campaign is grounded in a mission to raise funds for the fight against cystic fibrosis, it has also become a catalyst for leadership development, according to business executives like Brad Bertler, tax manager partner at Ernst & Young.


“It’s a great way to get some of our top people really ingratiated into the concept of giving back to the community, being a leader, and taking the lead on a fundraiser like this,” said Bertler, who has helped identify Ernst & Young employees to serve the campaign the past two years.

The annual campaign, facilitated by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation-Wisconsin Chapter, charges a set of area young professionals with raising as many dollars as they can over 10 weeks for the organization’s mission. Along with raising awareness of cystic fibrosis, CFF collects funds toward a cure of the chronic disease, which causes mucus to accumulate in the lungs and digestive tract among other areas of the body.

The 2015 campaign, which will run from March through May with a campaign goal of $60,000, is seeking candidate nominations through February. Milwaukee’s Finest honorees are often nominated by a colleague or employer or even themselves.

Following nominations, the campaign’s committee vets submissions and selects honorees to begin fundraising in whatever capacities they can, from internal company fundraisers to social media campaigns to funding efforts among family and friends.

Participating honorees also receive coaching on effecting fundraising strategies as well as have opportunities to meet personally with families impacted by cystic fibrosis and network with their peers.

“I just think it’s a wonderful way for our young people to give back to the community and for them to network,” Bertler said, adding that it has helped past candidates boost their own professional networks.

While it certainly adds weight to the fight against cystic fibrosis, honorees “get a ton out of it as well,” he said.

Candidates who have represented Ernst & Young in past years have been among the company’s “highest performers” and have been individuals with “an interest to get involved in this type of activity,” Bertler said.

Johnson Bank has also been a key proponent of Milwaukee’s Finest, having entered the campaign arena last year with its first company honoree, Alison Majcen.

Majcen’s nerves in launching her own fundraising campaign evolved into excitement in being part of the movement to find a cure for cystic fibrosis, and it was really neat to “see the passion she had going forward,” said Jon Donahue, vice president, private banking, at Johnson Bank and a member of the Milwaukee’s Finest committee.

Majcen’s efforts also permeated Johnson Bank’s staff, Donahue said, as her colleagues supported her financially with internal fundraisers, including a jeans day during which anyone who donated at least $20 could wear jeans to work.

The campaign’s ability to transfer that internal pride outward and elevate the visibility of a company within the philanthropic community is another benefit to employers whose staff members participate, according to Bertler.

“We take great pride in seeing our name and our employee involved in something so great,” Bertler said.

For more information on Milwaukee’s Finest, which BizTimes Media has sponsored in years past, visit https://finest.cff.org/activity/wisconsin.

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