CYP/AFF Milwaukee





Conservative Young Professionals of Milwaukee is a group of young professionals and community leaders located in the greater Milwaukee area. We believe that free markets, entrepreneurship, individual initiative, limited and efficient government, and educational opportunity are the keys to economic prosperity and human dignity.

Thanks to generous partnerships with America's Future Foundation and the Badger Institute, we provide networking opportunities and discussions on public policy and the economic issues facing our community and state. CYP/AFF Milwaukee members are invited to happy hours with local business leaders, private events and panel discussions on broad policy issues, and additional events

Our common principles unite us. All are welcome! Please check this page for future events and join our email list or like us on Facebook to stay in touch.


Past Events

Ugly Sweater Contest and Social Hour

Thursday December 6th
Bar Louie, Milwaukee

Celebrate the right to free expression this winter with your most garish, over-the-top, festive Christmas gear. Kick off the holiday season with AFF Milwaukee at our 2nd Annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party on Thursday, December 6th at Bar Louie (6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.) We’ll provide the drinks and appetizers, as well as an ugly sweater contest.

Show us you're in it to win it with holiday garb for our "Classic Cringeworthy" or "Ugly on Purpose" categories; we're awarding prizes in each category.

Bring your friends and colleagues for fun and festive happy hour!

Economic Models and Bottles: Drinks with Prof. Andrew Hanson

Tuesday November 13, 6PM-8PM
Great Lakes Distillery, 616 W. Virginia Street, Milwaukee

The economy is white hot! Unemployment is record-low! What a great excuse to clink cocktails with your AFF colleagues and learn the inside scoop on the Wisconsin economy. Professor Andrew Hanson from Marquette University will distill (pun!!!) the data on Wisconsin’s labor force, and shed light on why a large portion-over 30 percent of Wisconsin workers- are still sitting on the side lines. Enjoy hand crafted, artisan cocktails and complimentary appetizers from Great Lakes Distillery as we hear Professor Hanson’s blueprint for growing Wisconsin’s workforce to its full potential.

About the speaker: Andrew Hanson, a Visiting Fellow at the Badger Institute, is an associate professor of economics at Marquette University. He is also an associate fellow of the R Street Institute, a public policy research organization based in Washington, D.C. Before joining the Marquette faculty in 2012, he was as an assistant professor at Georgia State University for four years. From 2005-2006, Hanson served as a staff economist for the President’s Council of Economic Advisers in Washington, D.C. His primary fields of interest are public finance and urban economics.


Taking Aim to Defend the Second Amendment

Do you ever get frustrated when you hear celebrities or acquaintances dismiss the right to bear arms?

Have you ever wanted to learn more about guns for sport or self-defense?

Then it’s time for you to get hands on experience with one of the most controversial issues in America.

Join America’s Future Foundation - Milwaukee for a night at the gun range! You’ll be able to practice firing a variety of weapons, learn how easy they are to handle safely, and feel more confident next time you find yourself in a position to defend the Second Amendment.

Built in 2015, Wisconsin Firearms Training Center in Brookfield, WI is less than 30 minutes from downtown Milwaukee and is a state-of-the-art firearms range, clubhouse and pro shop. Rated a “Five Star Confidence” facility by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, WFTC will provide a full-service experience for anyone who has limited or no experience with guns, including introductions to equipment, safety and operational training, and target practice.

Thursday, September 13th, 2018
Wisconsin Firearms Training Center
12730 W. Burleigh Road
Brookfield, WI 53005

6:00 Networking and check-in
6:30 Safety briefing and legal waivers
7:00-8:00 Shooting, accompanied by instructor and Range Safety Officer

"How I Built My Business" series continues!

Thursday April 12, 2018
Where:  Ale Asylum Riverhouse, 1110 N. Old World 3rd Street, Milwaukee

Guest speakers: Scott and Gretchen Ecker from Ecker Envelope

After working at a corporate printing company for nearly a decade, Scott and Gretchen Ecker were unhappy with their surroundings and decided it was time for a change. So, just three months after their wedding in 1989, the Eckers opened their own small business – Ecker Envelope – in Mequon, WI. Since then, the couple has grown their business and continued to specialize in the niche market of printing envelopes.

Join AFF-Milwaukee for our latest “How I Built My Business” event with Scott and Gretchen Ecker of Ecker Envelope to learn about the couple’s successes and challenges in running a small business and advice for others who might be considering doing the same.

Educational Opportunity for All
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Where: Red Lion Pub, Upstairs/Fireplace Bar, 1850 N. Water St., Milwaukee
Featuring Jim Bender of School Choice Wisconsin

AFF-Milwaukee, like many organizations in Wisconsin and across the country, is bringing awareness to the importance of freedom in education by celebrating National School Choice Week (January 21 to 27). Join us for a happy hour on Wednesday, January 24, at the Red Lion Pub to hear the president of School Choice Wisconsin, Jim Bender, speak on the importance of school choice for Wisconsin students, as well as the economic impact it has on the state both now and for future generations.

Bender joined School Choice Wisconsin in 2010 and was responsible for lobbying Governor Walker and the legislature during the 2011-12 session. Since then, he's been regarded as a school choice expert and leading voice on the issue in the state. Join us to hear Bender speak on this timely issue and engage in education policy discussions, including how you can get involved.

Thursday, February 8, 2018
Where: Bar Louie, 1114 N. Water St, Milwaukee

American Majority is pleased to announced it will be bringing a Campaign-In-A-Day Snapshot training experience to the CYP/AFF MIlwaukee Chapter on Thursday, February 8. American Majority’s Campaign-In-A-Day Snapshot gives attendees a look into the interactive, rigorous, and team building Campaign-In-A-Day training by American Majority. It is a great event to build and hone leadership skills. The attendees are split up into campaign teams. They are given a mock candidate, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, that they must figure out a plan to bring them to victory on election day. Attendees will be briefed on the dos and don’ts of campaigns and immediately have to put what they have learned into action through allocating funds, messaging, and getting out the vote.

This training event will stretch attendees competitively, creatively, and politically. Whether you’re a policy wonk, interested in how campaigns are run, or looking to work together with fellow participants, this training has something for you.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest
Wednesday, December 6, 5:30 - 8:00 pm
5:30 - Networking, merriment, ugly sweater voting
7:30 p.m. - Winner of Ugly Sweater and Greatest Number of New Guests competitions announced!
Where: Rock Bottom Brewery, 740 North Plankinton Avenue, Milwaukee
Cost: Free!


November 16, 2017, 5:30PM
"Letting Wisconsin Work: Occupational Licensing Reform for Today’s Economy" featuring our speakers Collin Roth, Michael Jahr and Albert Walkera at Bar Louie.


"How I Built My Business" series continues

Special guest: Ave Bie, Managing Partner, Quarles & Brady, Madison, WI

September 14, 2017
Harp Irish Pub
113 E. Juneau Ave., Milwaukee, WI



Brewers Game

August 12, 2017, 6:10PM at Miller Park

As acclaimed conservative columnist and author George Will once said, “It (baseball) has no clock, no ties and no Liberal intrusions into the organized progression.” So join CYP for a night at the ballpark! No politics, policies or presenters (in the lineup, at least). Just like-minded people coming together to watch the Brewers take on the Cincinnati Reds. For those interested, we’ll meet at Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub (1262 N. 9th St.) beforehand around 4:30 p.m. and take their free shuttle to Miller Park. 

The Evolving Role of the Media: A Panel Discussion

June 15, 2017
Milwaukee Athletic Club
758 North Broadway
5:30PM - 7:30PM

The role of the media is rapidly changing. Audiences regularly clash, the number of news outlets is growing, and content is increasingly judged for its accuracy.  So what does all of this mean for the future of the media in our country? And how will the “fourth estate” adapt to this shifting landscape?

Join us at the Milwaukee Athletic Club for a panel-style dialogue with some of city’s leading members of the media: Associate Publisher of the Milwaukee Community Journal, Mikel Holt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, Dave Umhoefer, and WISN talk show host, Jay Weber. The panel will be moderated by WPRI President Mike Nichols, with an audience Q&A session to follow.


"Is There a Moral Case for Liberty?"

April 11, 2017
5:30PM - 7:00PM
Hinterland Erie Street Gastropub

Special Guest: Roger Custer, Executive Director of America's Future Foundation
Are free markets and capitalism the best way to help the poor? Or should we increase government spending and benefits to help? Can we form a coalition to use what works to reduce poverty and increase opportunity for all?

Join AFF Milwaukee, the Conservative Young Professionals of Milwaukee, and the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute for a fun evening of networking and interactive remarks from Roger Custer about the moral case for freedom.

"How I Built My Business" series continues

March 29, 2017
Great Lakes Distillery 616 W. Virginia Ave., Milwaukee

Special Guest: Paul Sweeney of PS Capital Partners

Our popular series on entrepreneurship returns with Paul Sweeney.  Join us for a conversation on private equity, venture capital and trends in business development, regional development and the hiring market in southeastern Wisconsin. Paul is also involved in local healthcare and education endeavors, including his work to start Milwaukee Scholars Charter School and welcomes discussion in these areas as well.


CYP Happy Hour: December 1, 2016
Sobelman’s Pub and Grill, Milwaukee
Guest Speaker: Dave Sobelman

A few months ago, we began our “How I Built My Business,” Series.  Dave graciously agreed to not only speak to us but host us as well. 

Dave is an emphatic and outspoken political independent who built a business in Milwaukee from the ground up. He and his family own and operate three Sobelman's restaurants in southeastern Wisconsin, and the concept is in active franchise development. Sobelman's has been featured in local publications, as well as cable and broadcast television. 

Dave and his wife, Melanie, met in 1993 at a restaurant where Melanie was Dave’s waitress. For him, it was love at first sight, and within 1½ years, they were married and started a family.

Six years and two daughters later, the owner of that restaurant offered to sell the couple another business that he owned. It was one of Milwaukee’s original Schlitz taverns at 1900 W. St. Paul Ave, and we now call it Sobelman’s Pub & Grill.

Dave and Melanie, with high school educations and no culinary skills, were determined to make the most of a pub-and-grill cuisine (mainly burgers), offering the cleanest environment, friendliest service and most pleasant, cozy atmosphere possible. The result has certainly taken the pub-and-grill experience up a notch!

CYP Happy Hour: October 19, 2016
Mo's Irish Pub Downtown
Guest Speaker: Brian Sikma of Media Trackers

Brian shared with us his thoughts and predictions for the 2016 presidential election and key races in Wisconsin that could determine control of the Wisconsin Legislature and both houses of Congress.

CYP Happy Hour: June 23, 2016
The Comedy Café, Milwaukee
"How I Built My Business" series, featuring Tom Bentley,
owner and chairman of the Board, Bentley World-Packaging Ltd.

CYP Happy Hour: May 25, 2016
Jackson's Blue Ribbon Pub at The Brewhouse Inn & Suites, Milwaukee
Guest Speaker: Milwaukee County Supervisor Deanna Alexander          

CYP Happy Hour: April 27, 2016
Milwaukee Athletic Club
Guest Speaker: Mike Nichols, WPRI president

Nichols discussed WPRI's Special Report, Putting the Squeeze on Consumers: Real-World Impacts of Wisconsin's Minimum Markup Law, and how Wisconsin's minimum markup law discourages competition and benefits special interests at the expense of consumers. 

CYP Happy Hour: March 24, 2016
Mo's Irish Pub, MIlwaukee
Guest Speaker: Rick Esenberg of Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.

Esenberg is the founder, president and general counsel of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. He gave his thoughts on President Obama's nominee to the United States Supreme Court, the late Justice Antonin Scalia and judicial races.


CYP Happy Hour: January 14, 2016
Hinterland, Milwaukee
222 East Erie Street, Suite 100 Milwaukee, WI
Guest speaker: Kevin Nicholson on "Assessing and Responding to Risk: From ISIS to Iran to the US economy."

Nicholson is a principal at ghSMART. He serves leading Fortune 500 corporations and investors in the areas of management assessment and organizational change initiatives.

CYP Milwaukee: November 17, 2015
Distill Milwaukee
Guest Speaker: Jon Hammes

An Evening with National Review's Charles Cooke
September 9, 2015
Milwaukee Athletic Club

Charles Cooke is a writer at National Review, author of The Conservatarian Manifesto and a graduate of the University of Oxford, where he studies modern history and politics.



Topic:  What a New Arena Means for Milwaukee and the Region
With Special Guest: Tim Sheehy

August 27, 2015
Mi-keys, Milwaukee

Sheehy is president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce. The MMAC serves as an advocate for member businesses, which employ more than 300,000 people in the greater Milwaukee area. He discussed what the new arena will mean for Milwaukee and the region and other issues affecting the business community and economic development.

Conservative Young Professionals of Milwaukee/AFF Milwaukee Chapter Advisory Board


Mary Beth Gahn, President

Mary Beth Gahn is a sales professional with a background in retail and wholesale operations, and the nonprofit, fashion and food manufacturing industries. When she's not selling something, she enjoys policy discussions surrounding a pro-human platform, volunteering for disability rights and awareness, and serving the congregation at her Catholic parish. Gahn also enjoys learning about wine and its cultural influence, cooking for friends and looking for a good reason to go to the gym before work. She is a magna cum laude alumna of Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Mo.


Nick Kitzman, Vice President

Nicholas W. Kitzman is an associate with the Milwaukee law firm of Foley & Lardner LLP, focusing on real estate law. He received his B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his J.D. from Duke University School of Law, where he graduated magna cum laude and served on the editorial board of the Duke Law Journal. Prior to law school, Kitzman worked in a variety of roles for key Wisconsin policy-makers including Sens. Alberta Darling and Luther Olsen and for Gov. Scott Walker as assistant legislative director. While in the state Capitol, Kitzman focused on the areas of health care, K-12 education and entitlement reform. He also has experience in economic development, having worked for the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corp. and having spent a year living in Yerevan, Armenia, while developing rural cooperatives and teaching English.

Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis is Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce's legislative director. He is part of the advocacy team that lobbies on behalf of MMAC and its members at the federal, state and local levels. Davis came to MMAC after nearly a decade of government and political experience, including serving as Reince Priebus’ Wisconsin political director, and managing stakeholder and external relations for Gov. Scott Walker. He also held roles advising state Sen. Alberta Darling on policy issues and public relations and spent time in Washington, D.C., working in the marketing and communications department of the National Republican Congressional Committee. He is a graduate of St. Norbert College with a degree in political science.

Kirsten Golinski

Kirsten Golinski is the Development Associate at the Badger Institute. She earned her Bachelors of Arts degree in political science with a minor in public policy & administration from James Madison University. Prior to joining the Badger Institute, Golinski worked as a campaign field representative for the NRA-ILA.


Julie Grace

Julie Grace is a policy analyst for the Badger Institute’s Center for Opportunity, where she researches and writes on criminal justice and occupational licensing issues. Grace most recently served as a policy and communications advisor to Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. While completing her master’s degree in communications at Marquette University, she also interned at the Badger Institute, researching and reporting on the state and local impact of federal grants.


Kala Hill

Kala Hill is the External Relations Operations Manager for the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and Development Operations Manager for the foundation’s philanthropic partner, The Bradley Impact Fund. Prior to joining Bradley, Hill spent the prior decade in the Washington, D.C., area working for her hometown congressman, Mac Thornberry, raising funds at the largest political fundraising firm in D.C., and as the Grants Manager at the Charles Koch Foundation. Hill is a Wisconsin transplant, originally from Texas, where she graduated from West Texas A&M University with a degree in Political Science. She received her master’s degree in political management from George Washington University. In addition to AFF, Hill volunteers her time with the Junior League of Milwaukee and training for running races. She lives in Wauwatosa with her husband, Mark, and their son, Nolan.

Rachel Horton

Rachel Horton is a test prep instructor in Milwaukee, with interests in economics and public policy. After graduating from Indiana University with a degree in economics, she participated in the American Enterprise Institute’s Summer Honors Program. In her free time, she enjoys sailing, writing and advocating for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome research.


Jason Kohout

Jason Kohout is a partner and business lawyer practicing with Foley & Lardner LLP. Kohout is very involved in the community and serves as secretary for the Harvard Club of Wisconsin, secretary of the Badger Institute and director and treasurer of CARMEN High School of Science and Technology Charter School. He graduated from Harvard College and received his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2007.

Jess Ripp

Jess Ripp is a native of Milwaukee who attended Marquette University High School and Marquette University. He currently manages the daily operations of an asset management company that oversees income properties in Waukesha and Milwaukee counties. In his free time, he travels and reads approximately 50 books a year.


Shannon Sweek

Shannon Sweek (formerly O’Connell) is Vice President of Clinical Operations for UnitedHealth Group’s Optum division. UnitedHealth Group is a Fortune 6 provider of health care services for employers, providers and government beneficiaries. Sweek oversees a team of 400 clinical and non-clinical resources, accountable for delivering population health management programs to greater than 9 million Medicare and Medicaid members. Sweek's 10+ year career with UnitedHealth Group is driven by her passion for helping seniors and disabled adults maintain health and independence. Sweek is a graduate of Marquette University and received her Master's of Healthcare Administration from the University of Minnesota. She began attending Conservative Young Professionals of Milwaukee events in 2010. Networking with like-minded fiscal conservatives in the Milwaukee area is what drives Sweek to take an active leadership role in CYP.