Sophia Barnes

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Where do you work and what makes your role awesome?
I work for Aurora Health Care and I am responsible for the marketing and communications efforts that promote our Diversity & Inclusion platform. That means that I get the awesome job of elevating diverse voices in our organization through storytelling while also promoting Aurora as a welcoming destination for patients, caregivers and families of all cultures and backgrounds. I love the work that I do because I get to push the envelope and challenge our organization to take meaningful steps to become more inclusive. In any given day I could be making sure our photography features beautifully diverse faces, writing stories to help our caregivers feel safe and welcomed or promoting our great work with community organizations such as the LGBT Chamber of Commerce or Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee. It’s really a dream job.

How long have you lived in MKE & what brought you here?
I have proudly lived in Milwaukee my entire life thanks to my maternal grandparents who settled here from Mexico and my paternal great-grandparents who made it here from Louisiana. The only time I’ve left Milwaukee was for undergrad at UW-Madison and as much as I loved it, nothing can replace home.

What do you love most about MKE?
I would arguably say there is nowhere else in the entire state that has this beautiful blend of cultures, languages and cuisines. People who were born and raised in Milwaukee share an overall common bond over the neighborhoods, the festivals and the high schools. Ask someone what MPS high school they went to and just wait for the reaction! There is also a common desire to see the city grow and evolve. I’ve known many folks who have moved away and still stay involved in the city somehow – it’s like our success is so deeply rooted in the future of our hometown.

What is one word you would use to describe MKE?
Milwaukee is Memorable.

What local restaurant is at the top of your list?
Right now I’m really loving National Cafe – it’s right by my job and the food is to die for. Also Anodyne Coffee is by far the best coffee shop in town – the aesthetic plus the welcoming atmosphere makes this the best place for a work meeting or a study session. My favorite part about local dining is the people that work there – when the folks in the kitchen reflect the diversity in our city or are rocking pink hair and tattoos, you know the food is about to be good.

What is your biggest hope for this city?
I hope that one day Milwaukee can be a beautiful hub for diverse business owners. Right now we are witnessing such a boom in development with the amazing restaurants and bars that have opened. But I would love to see our city filled to the brim with mom and pop shops in our communities of color. It establishes an authentic sense of belonging and pride. And it can inspire MKE’s black and brown children to become entrepreneurs someday.

What is your favorite MKE tradition?
Festival season is e v e r y t h i n g! Summerfest, Bastille Days, Mexican Fiesta, not to mention all of our street festivals. My new favorite is Pet Fest. No matter which one it is, i just love how our city comes alive in the summer.