Editor’s note: This is one in an occasional series on “20-somethings” in Milwaukee.
It’s been a busy four years for Amanda James. In 2010, she founded Kid-Tastic Child Care, which has eight employees and serves up to 50 children at 3030 W. Highland Blvd. In 2013, she helped to create a nonprofit group that empowers other women in Milwaukee to help themselves.
“I’m raising women, so that plays a role in the ways I support the community,” said James, 28, who has two daughters, ages 6 and 8, and a stepdaughter, 15.
Establishing a better future for them and other women is important to her.
“There’s a lack of support here in Milwaukee … and there are women in this community that deserve acknowledgment and added support,” James said.
James is working to address that issue by co-chairing a local group called Widening Opportunities to Motivate Empower Network or WOMEN.
“It’s a platform to have healthy, open and honest dialogue between members of the community,” said Stephaine Crosley, a childhood friend and the group’s other co-chair. She runs the group’s Instagram account, which encourages women and promotes events.
WOMEN has organized a variety of programs, including all-men and all-women panel discussions, and another featuring members of the LGBT community. Topics have included love and relationships, financial literacy and a political forum that featured the city’s mayoral candidates in February.
The organization’s most successful event was a fashion show in 2014 featuring all women vendors: caterers, models, a DJ and designers. More than 300 people attended and the proceeds went back to the community, with WOMEN hosting a neighborhood cleanup and distributing bagged lunches.
James is a graduate of Riverside High School. She entered Mount Mary University as a pre-med student but dropped out in her junior year.
“There was a need for me to work and bring in an income … and having my child and not being able to spend as much time with her definitely influenced the decision,” James said.
She is now in a business degree program at DeVry University.
Having family support has made all the difference, said James, who plans to marry her fiancé, Charlie Davis, in June. Davis works at Kid-Tastic, as does James’ younger sister, Ashley Paige, who came up with the idea of a starting a childcare center when they were teenagers.
“I think she should pay me more seeing as it was my idea,” Paige said as the sisters bantered at the center’s front desk, with muffled classical music in the background and naptime in full swing.
“You get paid according to the standard of the industry; don’t even try,” James replied.
In the next two years, James plans to open two additional local locations of Kid-Tastic. Expanding across Wisconsin is on her to-do list.
Crosley, program manager at Make A Difference Wisconsin, said that James is one of those people everyone needs in their lives.
“She has a vision, she’s really supportive, but she’s not a ‘yes man,’” Crosley said. “She holds you accountable for whatever you tell her you’re working toward. She’s not afraid to throw some punches.”