Someone once asked me about the WordCamps and meetups that are going on around Wisconsin and I was only too eager to reply “It's crazy! There are so many going on” and then there was laughing. This person couldn't fathom any real IT talent outside of Silicon Valley and that's a shame. Both for that person and for the innovators here that are doing great work and not being recognized.
I'm probably not the best Wiconsinite since I don't love the Packers. But I do want to give WI the credit is deserves. We have a lot of innovators, and a lot of activity both in meetups and other events. Here's some of the amazing talent in Wisconsin. (Apologies in advance if I forgot you there are so many awesome people!)
Green Bay – Wisconsin
The first spot has to go to Chris. He's the first guy I met at Web920 so many years ago. Back when we had no idea what a version control system was, or when we had heard of this magical thing called jQuery but hadn't really used it. He's done some awesome things with WordPress, PHP, and more recently Ruby on Rails. He organizes Digital Fertilizer here in De Pere to build the startup community.
I had the pleasure of working with Alex for a few weeks at Burnham Richards here in Green Bay. He's one of those magical people that can rock both the designer and developer role. He's totally revamped the design portion of Burnham Richards' web strategy and I'm sure it won't be long for him to revolutionize the whole development process.
Brandon runs Optimal Digital Marketing in Appleton WI (about 30 minutes from Green Bay). They do some of the best marketing in the area. The thing that's always impressed me is their results driven focus. Most agencies say “we do SEO”. Optimal shows you higher traffic numbers because of the SEO. If you need any sort of marketing in the Fox Valley I would call Optimal first.
Ever wanted to meet a guy that knows something about everything? Then you need to meet Jason. If you haven't heard of the latest and greatest technologies he'll make sure you know how and when to use em. I'm pretty sure he was using Foursquare before they invented it.
This guy is a blogging prodigy. He wrote over 400 posts on his site in 2013 and he's already written a couple hundred in 2014. We connected through the Appleton WP Meetup group and he shared his love of photography and writing with us. Since then he wrote a book about blogging.
In early 2012 I stumbled onto the most unlikely gorgeous websites. It was a site for the annual marathon in Green Bay (not exactly known for their innovation) and it couldn't have been more beautifully constructed. Andrew was one of the brilliant guys behind that site and he continues to make awesome interfaces and grow the startup community.
Elliot isn't actually a WordPress guy but he was so instrumental in getting me to where I am in my career & life. He runs the Web920 group which is where I first learned that you can do anything if you put in the effort. He's a content enthusiast & makes foolproof websites with Drupal.
Milwaukee – Wisconsin
One of the people that had the biggest impact on my professional career outside of Green Bay was Dustin. He saw me online somewhere and reached out to me and invited me to help organize WordCamp Milwaukee. If it wasn't for Dustin I wouldn't have met all of the other amazing Milwaukee WordPress folks.
Do you want to know exactly what version an obscure filter was added to WordPress? Then reach out to Brad. He's one of the most technically savvy WordPress folks in the area and he spices up the monotonous tech talks with cat gifs! Definitely see his presentations; they're hilarious and informative.
Probably best known for running CSS-Tricks which shares tons of CSS best practices and questions. When searching for obscure CSS questions his website pops up over and over again.
The vast majority of the work launching a site on time and under budget is by effectively planning the content. If you don't map out exactly how all of the content is presented you could run into delays. That's what Jamie does. She is an Advanced Custom Fields guru and avid planner.
You know how it's a pain in the butt to make changes on a test site before pushing those changes to a live site? You have to sync all the files and sometimes change the database. And because of all that work you end up cowboy coding on the live site… you're familiar with that yes? Then Marc is a guy you want to talk to. He works on Desktop Server which automates that whole process. Brilliant.
There are few code-savvy business owners out there but Mike is one of them. I love chatting with this guy about the different filters / plugins available for WooCommerce. If you have a WooCommerce project he'll actually understand what you're talking about and can give you a good idea if it's actually possible.
Everywhere Else – Wisconsin
Lisa is probably best known for writing WordPress for Dummies. She's also a partner at WebDev Studios. She's also one of the few WordPress peeps I know that does yoga (one of my favorite hobbies).
If you attended WordCamp Milwaukee 2013 and visited the Happiness Bar there you probably ran into Dave. He loves helping people so much that he was at the Happiness Bar the entire time except for one single hour to give his own presentation. Super knowledgable and helpful guy.
Wisconsin for the Win
We have authors, bloggers, developers, and everyone in between. If you haven't met these peeps start going to WordCamps and other meetups. You won't be disappointed.