Community Tech for Milwaukee

Secure Bridges Enters The Milky Way – A Collaboration in the Fight Against Sex Trafficking

The fight against sex trafficking gained a new ally in a young woman by the name of Shayvon McCullum. It might not have been her original intent to take on a social justice endeavor that has become an international issue but once she began her research in late 2018, there has been no breaks or pauses. Her research turned into a strategy session, that produced her organization, Secure Bridges. Shayvon found herself motivated after attending many events dedicated to the issue especially discovering she was the only African-American woman present. This was in-congruent to the data she’d collected from her research that stated that Black and brown children were at the highest risk of being sex trafficked in the Milwaukee area. The help she knew she would need to make a huge impact arrived in the form of Nadiyah Johnson of Jet Constellations and The Milky Way Tech Hub.

Jet Constellations reached out to her after Shayvon had been highlighted during an interview for the Morning Blend. Nadiyah informed her of her mission for the Milky Way Tech Hub and how the use of technology could elevate her fight against sex trafficking. Shayvon took the initiative to do more research but this time it was to gain insight into information systems. Her studious nature and attention to detail impressed Nadiyah, and it was during the following meeting that she began to map out how a Secure Bridges app could provide preventative measures to dismantle youth sex trafficking.

“The Milkyway Tech Hub meet-ups had become routine for my Saturday mornings. It was encouraging to see such a beautiful and diverse room of entrepreneurs learning and building and connecting with each other.” – Shayvon M.

The app will give the under-served youth in the community multiple opportunities and resources in one place. Shayvon credits Nadiyah’s patience and support for her being able to win at the Milky Way Tech Hub Pitch Night, which led to the privilege of joining Jet Constellations’ One on One concierge accelerator. The entire experience culminated in the clickable demo constructed by Jet Constellations and Milky Way Tech Hub affiliate, MB Collab (led by Sirene Mireles and Irina Becker). Secure Bridges is currently raising funds to complete the app and bring it to market.

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Quentin Allums – A Misfit and Master of The Intersection

Quentin Allums, the man they call Q is at the intersection of sociology, business, virtual experience and storytelling. Traditionalists beware, he’s constantly performing experiments behind closed doors and looking for new ways to push the envelope.

“We all have clusters, you just have to identify yours, so you’re not focused on somebody else’s. It’s the difference between playing offense and constantly on the defensive.”

-Quentin Allums on how to be successful

The self-professed mad scientist, is constantly in the lab with the data from all of his areas of interest using the vivid memory of being laughed at before the accolades and success as motivation. He recalled one moment in particular where he was describing a virtual reality platform he was working on to utilize as an innovative form of education and was openly mocked and ridiculed for having such audacity. It still fascinates him to witness how he now has people lined up to speak with him about his ideas.

Quentin is well known for his videos on Linkedin and being a co-founder of Urban Misfits Ventures. Urban Misfit Ventures is a video company with a focus on community. They help brands, companies, and people build influence & generate leads through strategy and compelling videos. The key to their success thus far has been their focus on authenticity.

This was my second time sitting down with, Q, (the first on behalf of the Milky Way Tech Hub) and one of the many things I admire is his direct manner. Q is very genuine in communicating his ideas and belief system. When discussing Milwaukee he shared, “Milwaukee lacks narrative. “We need to lean into becoming a Smart City versus channeling all of our energy towards trying to be a tech ecosystem.” He shared the importance of being creative in order to catch up with cities that are much further along in the process.

Q also emphasized the importance of diversity and inclusion as it relates to developing a city that attracts and retains young and innovative people. Creating a culture that embraces all backgrounds seems to be a priority of Urban Misfit Ventures. His advice to those working in a toxic environment where diversity and inclusion are not celebrated is to find a niche within the company and find a sweet spot where you can thrive but if that can’t be made to work simply leave. Of course, he understands it’s not that simple for everybody when it comes to employment but he advises to prepare for the moment it does.

`Q is very strategic when it comes to partnerships and collaborations, through experience he’s learned to only sign on when it makes business sense for both companies. However, he is always willing to help and share contacts from his network. He would be more than willing to partner with the Milkyway Tech Hub if there was a project presented that both teams could benefit from. Most importantly, he expressed interest in being a lifetime ally in the push for diversity and inclusion, those early experiences of discrimination and ridicule will never fade and he wants the playing field to be level for dream chasers, entrepreneurs and misfits. To learn more about Quentin Allums give him a follow on his Linkedin, IG or Twitter below.

Twitter : @tagjustQ

IG: tagjustQ

Linkedin: Quentin Allums


Kenge: A New Project

The professionalism of Kenge Adams was something I noticed as I approached her in the lounge on the ground level of the Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons to conduct our interview.

During our conversation, Kenge and I shared a laugh as she articulated to me what the role and duties of a project manager were. I quickly learned that this was just a glimpse into an incredibly accomplished woman. Kenge earned a bachelor’s degree from UW-Parkside and a Master of Science in Communications from Northwestern University. After working for over fifteen years as a project manager for corporations such as FIS, Connecture, and Northwestern Mutual, she recently became an entrepreneur on a leap of faith with the mindset of wanting to take control of her career and have the ability to cultivate her own path. This was the catalyst behind her creating Connect Business Consulting: a consulting firm that manages the execution of projects and creates capacity assessments that adhere to her client’s vision, mission, and goals.

Despite her degrees and accomplishments, it didn’t take long to discover that Kenge operates from a place of gratitude and conducts herself in a lighthearted and humble manner. The first client to retain Kenge’s project management services through her firm, Connect Business Consulting, was Nadiyah Johnson and the Milkyway Tech Hub. Kenge is their Principal Consultant who is helping to manage initiatives and projects such as meetups, pitchouts, and events during the 2020 DNC. The Milkyway Tech Hub’s mission is to provide more diversity and inclusion within the tech fields and demonstrate Milwaukee as an emerging tech hub to cultivate an inclusive tech ecosystem.

Kenge first met Nadiyah when she oversaw the STEM outreach program for Northwestern Mutual’s Science Institute (NMDSI). Kenge reached out to Nadiyah for her data science expertise to help create the curriculum that was used in the partnership between Northwestern Mutual (NMDSI) and UWM’s college for kids program. An instant professional and personal bond was formed, which made it even more likely and mutually beneficial for them to work together now. Yet, as much history as they share, Kenge is also just extremely excited about Nadiyah’s vision and the Milkyway Tech Hub’s mission to cultivate an inclusive tech ecosystem.

In addition to working with Nadiyah and the Milkyway Tech Hub, Kenge is working with Morgan Phelps, owner of Colorful Connections. Colorful Connections is a staffing and recruitment agency that matches companies with skilled and diverse talent as well as assists professionals with their careers through professional development services and programs. Kenge sees this partnership as another opportunity to support the various sectors in the marketplace and help make it more diverse and inclusive.

Kenge believes that providing exposure to technology and resources for people of color, women, and people from under served communities is an essential step towards closing the gap of lack of diversity in the technology fields. Her advice to people who feel culturally isolated in the workplace is for them to start getting connected to like-minded and supportive individuals within their organization, regardless of role or department. She emphasizes that people should be involved in passion projects outside of work within their community. Kenge ultimately believes that organizations that embrace diversity and intentionally provide opportunities for all will have better results and more successful outcomes.


Latoya Freeman, The Woman and The Journey

Latoya Freeman, a healthcare IT professional by day and an entrepreneur by night, knows what it feels like to be left behind and to be deemed a failure. She recalled the experience of failing the second grade but then being allowed to pass into third grade special ed classes as the pivotal moment when she realized her work had to exceed expectations if she was going to have a chance at obtaining any of her goals. In fact, when one carefully examines her personal and professional career arc, her penchant for working harder than everybody else is very noticeable. A trait that wasn’t necessarily inherent but one who began to manifest when she worked her way from those special education classes into the gifted and talented program. This would continue into her high school years where she would qualify for AP classes until earning a scholarship to Marquette.

Latoya, reflected on her time at Marquette and the internship she ended up earning at Rockwell Automation before she began to emphasize the importance of doing this interview with the Milky Way Tech Hub. After relenting to the pressure of being one of the very few African-American women with an electrical engineering major and working inside Rockwell, she reverted to quitting for the first time in her life. Though it’s not a period of her life she’s proud of, it is why she connects to the Milky Way Tech Hub’s mission to diversify the STEM fields. After experiencing what she describes as isolation and knowing what it’s like to feel totally disconnected from the culture at Marquette and Rockwell, she relates to Nadiyah Johnson’s and the Milky Way Tech Hub’s initiative to help implement more diversity and inclusion within STEM.

However after an introspective period in her life following her decision to drop out and quit her internship she met a mentor through a series of events, that introduced her to IT at a healthcare organization, she chooses not to name. Latoya continued in that role for eight years before transitioning to Aurora. It wasn’t long before the same principle of working harder than everybody else drove her to learn and gain the knowledge of a systems and business analyst. It was her way of ensuring she could not become expendable and the knowledge in both areas enables her to be able to consider all possibilities when troubleshooting and considering all outcomes for her clients. It’s been a ten year journey to earn the respect she now has in the healthcare IT field.

The reputation and status she has earned has also afforded her the opportunity to invest in an online platform, entitled Legal Shield. Legal Shield helps people to gain access to attorneys for a much cheaper price. The initial investment into the platform became attractive because of the combination of the IT factor and her belief that everyone should have access to an attorney, no matter their economic status. She’s especially, keen on the idea of black men having equal access and protection because of the current state of the criminal justice system. Latoya also did not shy away from commenting on how important it is to engage the youth as a method of preventing them from getting lost in a broken system that historically, hasn’t treated them equally.

Latoya, encourages youth from under served and under estimated communities, to “out work the work” and to not attempt shortcuts, nor to shy away from long days and a lot of hours. She also was adamant about the need for reaching back for the next generation as mentors and not leaving them to fend for themselves, while trying to navigate their way into STEM. She also left open the possibility of assisting Nadiyah’s and the Milky Way Tech Hub, in a variety of ways, if called upon. Latoya wants all to know that despite working with innovative and cutting edge technology, she believes in the old school mentality of “it taking a village” and “the all hands on deck” approach of ushering in a more diverse generation of STEM employees.


A Moment with the Founder of Crowd Canvass

Interview With Brian Mckee

By Shaun Wanzo

Brian Mckee’s path to becoming an experienced Information Science and Technology Cybersecurity Professional, a leader in City of Light Church and in the community began as a teenager.  He developed a passion for serving others early in his teen years by engaging the youth in mentoring programs. A passion that was further cultivated within Marquette’s Upward Bound Program where he was paired with a mentor of his own.

Brian’s mentor, Steven Robertson, a man of strong faith and conviction was also a math and science staff member.  He also gifted Brian his first Bible and imparted the wisdom of making faith and spirituality the launch pad for the trajectory of all facets of his life.  This experience would serve Brian well as he transitioned from high school to UW-Madison’s college campus.

He possessed the discipline and aptitude to tackle the IST curriculum at one of the country’s top universities.  Yet, it was a technical issue with his pc that led to the creation of his first business, which involved troubleshooting and fixing other students’ laptops.  This entrepreneurial endeavor not only earned him extra cash to cover the costs of his education but it also offered the opportunity for him to continually serve.

It was a need that did not dissipate once he received an undergraduate degree in Information Science and Technology with an emphasis in Cybersecurity.  He became a licensed minister at Holy Redeemer Church, where he served as the youth minister until elevating to elder pastor.  Brian also became the director of Information Technology at Destiny High School.  The purpose of serving in both of these roles was to fulfill a need that would add value to people’s lives. This sense of humanity has been a constant theme since those pivotal teen years of his.

Therefore, even while building a sixteen year career as an IST professional, working for companies such as FIS Global and Komatsu, he continued to be a leader in the church and the community.  Brian Mckee, once again saw a huge void because of racial tensions within Milwaukee, that were steeped within a socio economic disconnect.  This divide propelled him to establish the City of Light Church, located at 6725 West Burleigh Street.

The City of Light Church is proud of attracting people from all types of ethnic and economic backgrounds.  Brian and his board has also established the City of Light Community Development Corp., which is located within the same building.  It is through this separate 501c(3) they are collaborating with Habitat for Humanity and the Milwaukee Office of Violence Prevention. These entities have formed this partnership to focus on exterior residential improvements in under served communities.  Brian also spoke very proudly of the event the City of Light hosted August 31 he described as a resource fair and backpack giveaway.

When I asked Brian if there were any other initiatives he was presently working on he replied eagerly with a detailed explanation describing an app he has currently in development.  Crowd Canvas will be a tech space where people can crowd source street teams of volunteers. “My vision is to empower everybody to make change in whatever cause they want to take on in whatever community they choose”. Brian fondly mentioned how he’s known Nadiyah Johnson, founder of Jet Constellations and The Milky Way Tech Hub for many years.  However, the deciding factor in choosing her to collaborate on Crowd Canvass is the vast amount of skills she has developed while working as an engineer at GE Healthcare.

Brian also applauds the Milky Way Tech Hub’s mission to diversify the STEM fields and the Milky Way’s emphasis on mentoring and service to kids from under served communities. He spoke about the importance of those kids seeing someone that looks like them teach them the skills necessary to be successful in the tech fields. The accomplished tech professional, pastor and the man passionate about community outreach and engagement warned those set to embark on a journey into the STEM fields about trying to take shortcuts.  He wants all readers to know that it takes time and sacrifice to reach your goals.  And the true journey doesn’t begin until you reach back and pull someone else along.