Julie Olson

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Where do you work and what makes your role awesome?
I’m a Transportation Engineer at GRAEF at our headquarters in Milwaukee. My role is awesome because of the variety of projects we design for our clients in the hopes of making a difference in our community.

How long have you lived in MKE & what brought you here?
I have lived near Milwaukee all my life having grown up in Racine. The close proximity allowed my family and I to visit the downtown area as much as possible for Brewers and Bucks games, local festivals and restaurants, and of course Summerfest. After attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I decided to return to Milwaukee where I have resided in Greenfield for the last 3 years. Milwaukee is a great city and has so much to offer. My roots are here which is what brought me back to the area after college.

What do you love most about MKE?
One thing that I love about Milwaukee is Stars and Stripes Honorflight and the support it has from southeastern Wisconsin. I’ve been a volunteer for Honorflight for the last few years, but have been impacted by its message and mission ever since it began in 2008. Honorflight is a nonprofit organization that flies WWII, Korean, Vietnam and terminally ill veterans from other conflicts to their memorials in Washington D.C. My grandfather was fortunate enough to fly with us and has said it was one of the best days of his life, right next to his marriage and birth of his children. This opportunity for our veterans is life changing and allows the family, friends and community to show our appreciation and support we have for them. The Stars and Stripes motto of ‘Everyday is a Bonus’ represents what we all should live by. We can show our veterans that we are here to support them and that we will not forget the sacrifice they gave to our country.

What local restaurant is at the top of your list?
I’m a huge fan of several restaurants in the downtown and Third Ward area, but my favorite has to be Riverfront Pizzeria Bar & Grill on Erie Street. I love pizza and to enjoy it along the river with a local beer in hand, is a great way to socialize with family and friends.

What is your biggest hope for this city?
My biggest hope for Milwaukee is for young individuals to realize the positive impact they can have on their local community through volunteer efforts or getting involved with like organizations. Whether it is for Habitat for Humanity, Adopt a Highway, or yard cleanup for elderly, we all have the ability to change our neighborhoods for the better. GRAEF has created a platform for its employees to reach out to these organizations in order to make this positive change.

What is your favorite MKE tradition?
My favorite tradition is the Milwaukee Dragon Boat Festival that is an annual event during the summer near the shores of Lake Michigan. Although this festival is relatively new to Milwaukee, it has been around the southeastern Wisconsin area for quite a while. A Chinese tradition, Dragon Boat racing incorporates the cadence and synchronization of 20 paddlers and their drummer. It is a great way to encourage team building efforts and raises funds for our local community. I’ve participated in this event for over 10 years and each year it brings a sensation of camaraderie and accomplishment.