History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Organizations - Business




Address the needs of Professionals
and Businesspersons in the community.



The Cream City Business Association was formed early in 1981 "to serve the needs of professionals and businesspersons in our community". More than 50 people attended and introductory reception in April 1981 at the home of Bob Moore, where the group discussed the needs and opportunities which an organization like CCBA could provide.

Several specialty committees were quickly formed, including an Investment club, Housing and Restoration, Research and Referrals, and CCBA Foundation (which was soon spun off to become the Cream City Association Foundation, and then the Cream City Foundation). CCBA also began an awards program for people making notable contributions to the gay/lesbian community; these awards, the Cream City Brick awards (first awarded in 1984), were an actual cream city brick with a brass plate stating the recipient's contribution. CCBA was associated with the National Association of Busienss Councils, and was very active in that national group.

The CCBA disbanded in 1989.

Presidents of CCBA have included:

    1981-1983- Ralph Navarro
    1983-1986- Marc Haupert
    1986-1987- Jerry Johnson
    1987-1988- Karen Gotzler
    1988- Gary Gussick

The UWM Archives LGBT Collection holds some of the Milwaukee Chapter of BWMT's papers. UWM Archives has this description of BWMT in their collection description:

    The idea of an organization devoted to the needs of Milwaukee gay and lesbian business owners and service providers developed in August 1980. A group of fifteen people gathered at a meeting of the Gay Peoples Union to hear the vice president of B.A.M., an association of gay and lesbian bar owners, speak on the topic of "Gay Businesses in Milwaukee." When the speaker failed to show, some of the attendees met separately and discussed forming a group of Milwaukee gay and lesbian business and professional people.

    After several planning meetings, the Cream City Business Association held its first public meeting in May 1981 with thirty-seven people in attendance. The first issue of CCBA's monthly newsletter appeared in the same month. The group incorporated in August of the same year. Initial committees focused on investments, research and referral, special programs, the CCBA foundation, membership, and housing and restoration.

    From the start, CCBA was a member of the National Association of Business Councils. Throughout its existence, the CCBA held monthly meetings and programs, published a newsletter, and held an annual meeting with an awards ceremony. Presidents included Ralph Navarro (1980-1984), Marc Haupert (1984-1986), Jerry Johnson (1986-1987), Karen Gotzler (1987-1988), and Gary Gussick (1988). In 1984, CCBA boasted that it was the largest, active lesbian and gay organization in Wisconsin, and that it had more than 200 members.

    CCBA played a major role in establishing the Governor's Council on Gay/Lesbian Concerns, developing the Cream City Association Foundation (now the Cream City Foundation), and expanding coverage of Milwaukee's LGBT community by the local media.

First Newsletter, May 1981


1984 Holiday Party advertisement

Newsletter, May 1988

Credits: design and arrangement by Don Schwamb,
with materials contributed by Scott Gunkel and Jerry Johnson.
Last updated: February, 2009.