Healthy Women, Healthy Families

The Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation is also celebrating its ten-year anniversary. Founded in 1997 by former First Lady Sue Ann Thompson after her battle with breast cancer, the statewide foundation addresses a variety of women’s health issues with a special focus on cardiovascular disease, cancer, osteoporosis, mental health, domestic abuse and tobacco and alcohol use. The newest program focuses on women who drink during pregnancy. Thompson’s mission is to address women’s health from birth to death.

In its ten years, the statewide foundation has grown far beyond Thompson’s original vision. “When I started I thought I’d be giving a speech or two on the weekend,” she says. “Now we have seventeen employees.”

Not one to rest on her laurels, Thompson is quick to point out that there are still issues to tackle and more work to be done in a variety of areas, including juvenile diabetes. Plus she wants to deepen all existing programs while continuing to develop and add new projects. She is, however, proud of what she has accomplished. “[We’re] empowering women and letting them know there is an organization in the state that’s looking out for them,” she says.

And by educating women, Thompson feels that her organization is really addressing the health issues that face everyone in Wisconsin. Women, she points out, gather the lion’s share of health-care information and determine how to spend the bulk of health-care dollars for their families. “Women’s health is really family health,” she says. “It all begins with a healthy woman. That we know for sure.”

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