Kristie Schilling

My day job is executive director at the Monona East Side Business Alliance. I’ve been in this role for nearly four years and have spent that time expanding our reach to include not just Monona businesses but those on the east side of Madison and north to Sun Prairie. I’ve been told we’re the fastest growing chamber of commerce in Wisconsin: we had 84 new members in 2016 and 85 in 2017.

Most of our members are “mom and pop” businesses and as someone who’s owned her own small business, I have a strong appreciation for the challenges they’re dealing with and the realities of their day-to-day life. This has built interest in our group as has my “no boring events allowed” policy (!) and our dedication to promoting one another. Check us out.

My most memorable caffeine was the “mystery” coffee I enjoyed at JBC Coffee Roasters, which has been voted one of the country’s best small coffee makers. The first time I met their owner, Michael Johnson, he gave me a tour of their facility and showed me the green bean storage and shared background on the roasting process and the growers he’s connected with around the world. Then he introduced me to “Cadence” (AKA the mystery coffee), which is their spin on nitro coffee—cold brew coffee infused with nitrogen. I’m a big fan of iced coffee and this takes it to another level. You can taste every flavor!

My current caffeine of choice is anything from JBC. I love their commitment to education.

My favorite place for caffeine is any one of our member coffee houses. You can often find me at Java Cat or Rosie’s Coffee Bar & Bakery.

The people I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with are Mary Barra, the CEO at General Motors, and Amelia Earhart.

When I started my own business at 29, I was often the only woman in the room and I know how challenging it can be to make your way in a “man’s world.” The auto industry remains incredibly male dominated and I would love to sit down and talk with Barra. I’m elated watching her efforts to rejuvenate the industry and make it more progressive and forward thinking. She inspires me!

Earhart is another woman who did groundbreaking work in a male world. I’ve always wanted to get my pilot’s license and that’s all because of her.

World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine:  moving to zero waste, especially in the medical and dental industries. I’ve been especially struck by this recently because a family member was diagnosed with diabetes and I’m experiencing firsthand the huge amount of waste that health care generates.

I’ve traveled around the world and it seems that any time I’m on a beach, there’s an old toothbrush washed up on the shore. It’s depressing to think about that huge pile of waste that’s floating around the world.

We’re addicted to convenience and will pay the price for that addiction. I think there’s a massive business opportunity for biodegradable medical products and I hope someone makes it happen. In the meantime, check out TerraCycle, which recycles hard-to-recycle materials.