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Neumann’s passion to help others far extends his career

People who make a difference: Christopher Naumann

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August 29, 2022

BROWN COUNTY – Ashwaubenon native Christopher Naumann – the owner of Christopher Max Design and Development LLC, a freelance architecture, planning and development consulting practice – said he grew up watching his dad give back to the community through his involvement with the Ashwaubenon Lions Club.

“My dad was active in community service his entire life,” he said. “He was a lifelong member of the Ashwaubenon Lions Club and was one of the founders of that group. And he did a ton of work around the community.”

So it isn’t surprising to those who know Naumann – a man who has dedicated the majority of his working career to helping shape communities through redevelopment projects – followed in his late father’s footsteps of giving back, volunteering his time and talents to the communities he’s called home over the past few decades.

“I was exposed to (volunteering and giving back) growing up and seeing my dad be part of that,” he said. “I think it hit me harder in a meaningful way as an adult, and I saw my dad continuing to do that.”

His dad has since passed, and though he isn’t an actual member of the Ashwaubenon Lions Club himself, Naumann said he still carves out time in his busy schedule to volunteer with them.

“I was helping (my dad) as he was getting older, and it was a bonding time for me and my dad, but I also saw the benefit in it,” he said. “I maintained my relationship with the lions club even though my father passed. I’m not considered a member because I simply don’t have the time, but I’ve been helping where I’m needed and where I can. I am even helping administer a scholarship program in my father’s name for the past year and a half.”

Making connections

Naumann said he also helped coordinate a partnership between the Ashwaubenon Lions Club and its Green Bay Packers parking program and the Green Bay East High School music program – a situation he called a win-win.

“The club has been struggling to get volunteers to help with the parking efforts,” he said. “So, I opened it up and suggested, ‘Hey, can I bridge the gap with these kids who are constantly fundraising with the Green Bay East music program?’ Started making those connections last year, and this year is kind of our first year where we’re opening it up to students to help out and we’re filling schedules, the lions are elated, we’re doing great work and trying to raise some money.”

Naumann said he knows firsthand the extensive efforts the kids in the music program at East put forth each year, partly because of a personal connection.

“Coincidentally, in my personal life, I’ve been helping raise two teen boys who are super outgoing, wonderful kids and they’re into the arts on their own,” he said.

Supporting statewide efforts

Naumann – who once served as the executive director of On Broadway, Inc. in Green Bay – said the arts, especially public art, have always been a passion of his.

He said to support the arts statewide, he volunteers his time as a board member (currently serving as vice president) for Create Wisconsin (formerly Arts Wisconsin), a statewide art advocacy group – something he’s done for the past 10 years.

“I’m coming from more of a boots on the ground, working with small vendors and artists in my community (through my work with the Farmers’ Market on Broadway), and getting more and more entwined in that community,” he said. “Then I became a representative for that with the statewide art advocacy organization.”

An architect and planner by trait, Naumann said his professional knowledge allows him to be involved in a variety of different projects, many of which he described as meaningful, not just in terms of his career, but for the communities they have taken place in as well.

“I really do believe that community is an important thing to maintain.” – Christopher Naumann

In the past five years, Naumann said he’s worked on dozens of projects in the Midwest region – From apartment developments in Duluth, Minnesota, and the conversion of a K-mart facility to heated storage units in Escanaba, Michigan, to working with Newcap helping to convert older homes in Green Bay into emergency shelters and beginning a collaborative partnership with Dimension IV in Green Bay, helping the Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe examine reservation housing development opportunities.

Naumann said he does his best to use his industry knowledge to help the community.

“I try to help out,” he said. “Whenever people need help, I try to provide my professional assistance or my time and energy, because I do believe that community is an important thing to maintain. A city might be a place, but the people make (it special).”

Naumann said there are “tremendous needs in our communities for people with technical skills.”

“And it’s not just a nine to five job, it’s a career, you live it (outside of work, too),” he said.

In connection with his profession, Naumann said he has recently taken on a larger role with the American Institute of Architects Wisconsin chapter – recently joining its Political Action Committee to help advocate for his profession at the State Legislature.

“In my design and my work, I’m all about creating better places for people and integrating the concept of functional architecture, but also architecture that builds community,” he said. “Those are important things that got lost with the industry over the last 20 years that are starting to come back. We’ve got challenges in our communities, how can we fix that? That’s where I think architects can lean in and help.”

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