Shaping the future of milwaukee. 48 people
at a time.

Forward 48 is the region's premier leadership development program. We built a robust and diverse civic leadership succession strategy through experiential learning, professional development, and exclusive networking opportunities.

Utilizing the best practices for engaging virtual learning, Forward 48 provides:

Live Instruction

Direct virtual engagement with the city’s top business and community leaders

Curated Networking

Private events, networking opportunities, and unlocked Forward 48 content exclusively for alumni

Skill Development

Advanced skill development and toolkits to spur economic growth and civic impact

Forward 48 faculty

Spring 2022 Faculty:


Milwaukee has a rich history of business and civic innovation:

  • Harley-Davidson was created in a shed in the Menomonee Valley in 1903.
  • The Milwaukee Art Museum gained national attention when The Quadracci Pavilion, a sculptural addition designed by Santiago Calatrava, was added in 2001.
  • The Hoan bridge became iconic in 2020 when a group of private citizens illuminated it with thousands of LED lights.

The stories behind these successes are extraordinary. The leaders who paved the way are legendary. The lasting impact is undeniable.

We believe these stories need to be shared with you, the city’s emerging leader. We’re not talking about podcasts or video interviews or feature stories in newspapers or magazines. Nor do we mean from stages at large conferences.

We’re talking about something more exclusive and exciting than that.

Through our unique leadership development program, you get private, intimate access to the individuals who’ve shaped today’s communities… and several who still are.

That’s right, just you and 47 other people in a virtual room with six of the city’s most accomplished leaders for six weeks. How awesome is that?

More About Us


Being a part of Forward 48 is your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from the business and civic leaders who seized the opportunities, shattered the ceilings and led the protests to give Milwaukee the depth and breadth it has today. Each session of the Forward 48 program is customized by our invited faculty and in-house facilitator to create engaging, hands-on learning experiences just for you — the next one to define the city’s future.

  • Engaging instruction and direct engagement with Milwaukee’s top business and community leaders. You’ll have unprecedented access to glean the wisdom, insights and hard-learned lessons you’ll need to put yourself on the fast track as an emerging leader within the region.
  • Advanced leadership skill development and toolkits with resources and strategies that will help you elevate your personal brand professionally and civically.
  • Transferrable graduate level credits to Marquette University.
  • Ability to tap into a diversely extensive network of mentors and other trusted thought leaders who will help you keep you inspired as you become part of the rich and diverse fabric of the city.
  • Exclusive invitations to follow-up events, curated networking opportunities, and special alumni content designed to continue fostering the growth of Milwaukee’s next generation of leaders.
  • Complimentary six-month membership to the Rotary Club of Milwaukee.
Hear from the participants


“Forward 48 blew away all of my expectations. This program not only brings together current and future Milwaukee leaders to share their unique perspectives and experiences — it also successfully offers a core curriculum building upon key leadership skills, providing the tools for continued development. Forward 48 sessions were much more than a typical classroom. Our cohort quickly grew into an organic network, providing a comfortable space for bonding and support, but – importantly - also encouraged us to listen, learn from each other, and grow. I highly recommend Forward 48 and will always value the relationships built and lessons learned. Thank you!”
Brooke Van de Kamp, Johnson Controls
"This has been a great experience. There was always a great amount of depth in all of our conversations. Ever single one of the speakers was extremely open and provide me with an understanding of what took them to the top of their industries.”
Jalin Phelps, JCP Construction
“Forward 48 was a fantastic base from which to begin to see established leaders as well as peers who shared a commitment to moving Milwaukee forward, and a shared language through which to start those dialogues. As I enter the alumni network, I am eager to see how these connections and directions emerge in unexpected ways.”
Cara Ogburn, Milwaukee Film
“Forward 48 was an incredible opportunity to self-reflect on my own skill sets as a leader. I appreciated the diversity of thought, the connections to some incredible professionals here in the city of Milwaukee, and a refreshing way to spend time on my own growth and development each week. The Forward 48 team went above and beyond to make sure everyone had a voice and felt welcomed. I highly recommend this experience!”
Tiffany Tardy, All-In Milwaukee


Twice a year we select 48 of Milwaukee's best and brightest to be a part of Forward 48. We are looking for those who not only show promise within their field of work but who are also actively working to positively impact the community.

Cohort members tend to have the following traits in common:

  • A young leader within their organization with a minimum of six years professional experience — It’s not about age, it’s about someone who’s reached the point in their career where they’re ready to do big things professionally.
  • Engaged civically in their community — There’s passion and determination to make a difference, which includes leaving their mark in meaningful ways.
  • Desire to network with the region's best minds — These rising stars understand that individual achievement is just one part of a well-rounded life. Another part is the personal pride gained from working with others to achieve a common goal.
  • Readiness to learn from and implement strategies taught by today's leaders — Each has a willingness to get out of their comfort zones and fully commit to working with a small group of people who challenge them intellectually and hold them accountable personally.
all of the information you need

Getting Started

Each of the six three-hour lessons are delivered virtually as follows:

  • Hour 1 = Live, moderated candid instruction by guest instructors
  • Hours 2-3 = Facilitated small group discussions and exercises that allow participants to further dig in to each week’s themes and concepts

We have exclusively curated and invited a select group of Milwaukee's business and civic leaders to share their roles in laying the foundation for much of Milwaukee's growth. 

Admission to Forward 48 is by application. There are two ways to start the selection process:

1) You can apply to be a member of our next cohort via this form

2) A leader in your organization or professional network can nominate you with this form.

Example letter to your employer here.

Sessions are held every Thursday from 3PM - 6PM for six weeks.

Our Spring 2022 cohort begins on Thursday, April 28th.

Thursday, April 28th | In-Person
Thursday, May 5th | Virtual
Thursday, May 12th | Virtual
Thursday, May 19th | Virtual
Thursday, May 26th | Virtual
Thursday, June 2nd | In-Person

We are currently offering the entire six-week program for $2,500, which includes all program materials.  

- Transferrable graduate level credits to Marquette University

- Complimentary 6 month membership to Rotary ($800 Value)

- Exclusive networking opportunities, and special alumni content designed to continue fostering the growth of Milwaukee’s next generation of leaders ($1,500 Value)

Watch videos from our last cohort

Media & Videos

Introducing Forward 48

This is Forward 48

Tim Cole on forward 48

samantha maldonado on forward 48