History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin - People - Bios

Denise Wise


Primary Involvements:

Community Activist





Denise Wise, President of the Cream City Foundation board and a member of the PrideFest Task Force will be leaving Wisconsin to take a new job in Gunn, Colorado. “One of the things I’ve always wanted to do was live in a mountain community and I am looking forward to it,” said Wise. “I’m expecting a little bit of culture shock. I have traveled around enough to know that when you live in a small city you are kind of living in a fish bowl.”

Wise is primarily known for her work at CCF. Wise stated that she believes CCF has become stronger organization during her tenure as the board’s president -- a post she has held for over three years. She served on the CCF board for over six years.

“It is invigorated with new and fresh board members. Our progress has really been a group effort. We have a very progressive board. We have become a lot clearer about our relevance to our community. A good example is our work with PrideFest,” explained Wise. CCF stepped in to spearhead PrideFest’s rebuilding effort after it suffered a nearly $150,000 debt in 2003.

Wise also cites progress in four areas at CCF: fund-raising, growing strategic initiatives, revamping their mission statement and working on improving internal mechanisms.“I believe in what [CCF] stands for and that it can be a true tool of the community.”

Wise also said CCF is on track to hire an executive director and the group has received and reviewed applications from a number of very qualified candidates. She indicated that an announcement about hiring a new executive director is anticipated within weeks.

Wise also gives good marks to the Milwaukee LGBT community for its progress in recent years. However, she also expressed some reservations about long-standing issues which still challenge Milwaukee's LGBT community. “From the outside it looks good,” said Wise. “We have the community center -- it is active and dynamic. As a community we are becoming more visible. But, as I look at the community from the inside there are still many issues to deal with.” Wise specifically has concerns about on-going divisions inside the LGBT community especially racism, sexism and classim.

“Now, is the time to come together,” says Wise. “We need to be less focused on personalities or we are going to lose cohesiveness as a community. Our community has some wonderful opportunities. But, we have got to be able to set aside our egos and work as a genuine community -- misogyny, racism and separatism are not OK.”

Wise added, “We don’t seem to be able to tell people when they have done a good job." Wise cited thjree examples of people whose work for LGBT community really needs to be celebrated. "It makes me sad that some people in the community can’t really acknowledge the good work (they have) done or acknowledge when anyone has done a really good job.” Wise specificallty named Neil Albrecht, Karen Gotzler and Jim Schlief as community leaders who have made a major impact on her and the community.

“The decision to take this new job was not easy,” says Wise. “But, it is a wonderful opportunity for new people in the community to step up.”

(The above information from the article "A Job Well Done: An Exit Interview with CCF’s Denise Wise", by William Attewell, originally appearing in February 2005 on the WisconsinGayNews.com website; see link to right.)


Exit Interview from WisconsinGayNews, Feb. 2005

Credits: initial page creation by Don Schwamb;
Last updated: March-2007.