MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Business Journal announced the second round of its annual 40 Under 40 on Thursday morning to recognize the best and brightest emerging leaders under the age of 40 in Milwaukee.
Those young business leaders will be honored during a ceremony held in March 2024. To celebrate this honor and spotlight some of the most prominent, rising stars in our community, WTMJ spoke with several 40 Under 40 winners. You can hear those conversations below:
Melanie Ricks — MBJ 40 Under 40
Melanie Ricks is the Milwaukee Bucks sideline reporter, and she is the host of “Nothin’ But the Truth” on 101.7 The Truth.
Melanie grew up a big fan of the Milwaukee Bucks, and she’s most proud of how she accomplished her dream to be a sideline reporter for the team. She’s also happy she gets to make a difference on her radio show by making sure stifled voices get heard by talking and addressing the things that impact people in the community.
“To any of my Jack or Jill of all trades, believe in yourself,” Ricks said. “I think not only believing in yourself, but I think understanding and knowing what your goals are. It’s okay if you don’t fully see the whole picture, but at least have an idea because the universe can’t reward you if it doesn’t know what it is that you want.”
“People want to help good people,” Ricks said. “So if you’re a good, kind person, and you’re putting good energy out there… I genuinely believe the universe does reward that.”
Alec Knutson — MBJ 40 Under 40
Alec Knutson is the Government Affairs Director for Milwaukee County. He told WTMJ that his passion is “working on behalf of his community,” and he does that on the local, state, and federal levels in Milwaukee County.
One of the ways he works for the community is by advocating for funding for programs and impactful legislation. He said his proudest moment was when they passed Act 12 to provide Milwaukee with a local option sales tax, so they’ll be able to provide revenue and invest in services such as parks, transit, public safety, and more.
“It was only through experiences and trying new things that I identified what was really meaningful to me,” Knutson said. “I would suggest to younger professionals: look for things that are meaningful to you, look for [the] things that make you happy.”
“To me, that was the game changer,” Knutson said. “That was the thing that really changed the course of my career.”
Katelyn Nye — MBJ 40 Under 40
Katelyn Nye is the Executive General Manager of Artificial Intelligence and Partnerships for the General Imaging Ultrasound business at GE Healthcare.
Katelyn led the first-ever AI algorithm to get FDA-approved, and that algorithm is embedded in X-ray machines to find critical findings more efficiently to help doctors and nurses diagnose patients faster. The machines are in place all over Wisconsin.
“I remember the first time a doctor told me after using the product that they believed it saved one person’s life that day,” Nye said. “If it only saves one person’s life, then it’s worth it… likely it’s going to save more and more lives, but just even one makes it all worth it.”
Her advice to young professionals in her field is “not to be afraid [of] doing things you’ve never done before.”
“I studied audio engineering in college, and then I moved into medical technology, so that was sort of a shift from what I had previously thought I was going to do,” Nye said. “And on the job, I learned about AI and started working on AI products with no prior experience.”
She said to “follow your interests and your passion.”
Brandon and Arielle Hawthorne — MBJ 40 Under 40
Brandon and Arielle Hawthorne are the founders and owners of Twisted Plants, a popular Milwaukee-based vegan food restaurant.
At Twisted Plants, they serve alternative and sustainable vegan food options that they believe are better for people in the community. They want to continue to show the Milwaukee community that they can eat good-tasting vegan food. They are most proud of being a staple in the community, converting people to go vegan, and their upcoming five-year business anniversary in July 2024.
“The best advice I can give is to not give up [and] to keep going,” Arielle said.
“If you’re looking to get into the food industry, or if you are in the food industry… It’s important to know, the other side of it, which is the numbers and papers side,” Brandon said. “It’s one thing to dish out food, but it’s another to actually run your business… and not just being the business.”
TOP HEADLINES FROM THE 620 WTMJ NEWS TEAM:
- What defines a “blizzard”? The answer might surprise you!
- Ranking the Top 5 Non-Alcoholic Beers + the Value of Dry January — What’s On Tap
- ‘The drought is coming to an end!’ Snow removal companies celebrate the snowfall
- ‘No timeline’ on when school resource officer plan will be presented to school board
- “He kind of leads with hope:” Efren Ramirez, actor of Pedro in Napoleon Dynamite, celebrates 20th anniversary & film’s cult following