32 People You Should Know

Meet these city slickers who contribute to the civic, economic and cultural vitality that makes Madison … Madison

The Creative Class

 

Hanah Jon Taylor
The Jazz Impressario

Most people call it jazz, but Hanah Jon Taylor calls it “living music.” The internationally acclaimed saxophone and flute player remembers plopping down on a curb outside a club when he was thirteen to hear John Coltrane. “It sounded like he was trying to tell me something,” says Taylor. When he was twenty-seven, he suffered a stroke; his doctor told him he would never play again. “I made a pact that if I would ever be able to play, I would play each concert as if it were the last.” Since moving here in 1993, Taylor has taught at the Madison Media Institute, toured with the Hanah Jon Taylor Artet, and launched the former Madison Center for Creative and Cultural Arts. –CC

 

Brian Hinrichs
The Digital Maestro

Opera’s been around for four hundred years, but Brian Hinrichs has a way of making the art form feel cutting-edge. Hinrichs has crafted a cohesive online presence for Madison Opera, now celebrating its fiftieth season. “I think social media is a powerful platform for storytelling, which in many ways makes it a natural fit for an opera company,” he says. “Whether it’s a blog post exploring Mozart’s letters, a YouTube video of a director relating an opera plot to modern day or a Twitter update about what’s happening in rehearsal, there is always something interesting to share.” Fans love his MadOpera Blog, and the company’s average Facebook fan is between twenty-five and thirty-four years old—squarely the next generation of operagoers. Bravo! –KV

 

Angela Richardson
The Creative Chameleon

When you hear about a project that’s creative, innovative and community-minded, it’s practically guaranteed Angela Richardson is involved. Since moving to Madison in 1990, she’s applied her talents in photography, visual arts and performance to a staggering array of organizations and events. She’s performed as a trapeze artist and neo-burlesque dancer and served as a feminist activist and alternative arts producer. She’s part of the Greasy Gears, a go-go dance collective that performs guerrilla-style around town, and recently became the coordinator for UW’s Year of the Arts. All her work is rooted in creating community. “Contributing something to my community … is hugely important to me,” she says. “One of the greatest things that I have to share is my creativity.” –KV

 

Rob Matsushita
The Scene Changer

Rob Matsushita’s latest pursuits have brought him full circle. Originally a film student, he found his niche writing and directing plays for Broom Street Theater and other local companies. Yet he recently created Claymore Pictures, an independent film production company, and has been busy producing trailers for Mercury Players, Strollers and University Theatre. He’s started the web series “Chapel” (find episodes at claymorepictures.net) and is working on “The Girls,” the second half of a double feature about a group of female assassins. With plans to work in both film and theater, Matsushita hopes to keep pushing the envelope creatively—and perhaps shake the reputation that everything he writes features women and weapons. “It’s rapidly approaching that one-fourth of the things I write are romantic comedies,” he says. “No guns, no nothin’.” –KV

 

Alison Jones Chaim
Read All About Her

Alison Jones Chaim has been the director of the Wisconsin Book Festival since 2003. Held every fall at dozens of venues throughout Madison and Dane County, the five-day fête features approximately 100 events, 200 published authors and 15,000 attendees. This during a time of crisis in book publishing, when publishers are sending few authors out on tour and making them less available for public readings. Jones Chaim and the rest of the staff at the Wisconsin Humanities Council keep the festival growing with the help of hundreds of unpaid volunteers, strategic monitoring of new book releases and Madison’s standing as one of the top two or three per-capita book-buying communities in the nation. –DB

 

 

 

 

 

The Community Trust

 

Carla Hacker
Out on a Limb

If you’ve got a student in the Madison schools, chances are Carla Hacker has helped your child climb forty-five feet into the trees at the school forest or ride a rope into a pitch-black cave. As the district’s stress challenge coordinator, Hacker oversees its caving and camping trips and twelve ropes courses. She says she’s “not a risk taker by nature” (she doesn’t ride rollercoasters). But Hacker’s work is as much about building community as it is about adventure. When sharing about the ropes course, a student once told the group it was the first time she had felt loved. “The bottom line is that people have a chance to develop caring, trusting relationships,” Hacker says. –CC

 

  

Christie Ralston
The Gardenista

Community Groundworks is a terrific organization with a wonderful staff and large group of volunteers and supporters. Troy Gardens is its jewel, and a nationally renowned one at that. But associate director and natural areas coordinator Christie Ralston has brought an energy, passion and vision to the nonprofit that is helping to raise its profile while expanding its mission. While young enough to be an up-and-comer, she is developing deep roots in the community, promoting Community Groundworks’ educational and outreach programs. She also gives a great tour of the Gardens, and manages to do some gardening herself. –NH

 

Michael Johnson
Pulling for Kids

Michael Johnson is a big guy in a lot of ways. He has a big heart, big ideas and a big challenge. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Dane County are well established as important foundations for the young people in our community. But the numbers and needs grow, and accommodating that growth is critical. Johnson left an influential job in Philadelphia for the opportunity to run his own show. As president and CEO of the area’s two Boys and Girls Clubs he’ll have to keep up major successes like the Avid/TOPS program and the Character and Leadership initiatives, while continuing to cultivate community support and planning for the future. It’s a big job. Johnson’s the right guy. –NH

 

  

Bob Ansheles
The Progressive Businessman

If you are a member of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, been involved with the organization as an ambassador, attended a business card exchange, a CEO breakfast or the Business Expo, you’ve met Bob Ansheles. As the GMCC’s director of membership and marketing, Ansheles has been instrumental in reaching out to both small businesses and large corporations to become more active and involved in the community. In addition, Ansheles has played a major role in helping to launch the Chamber’s Minority Business Advisory Council. He is fully engaged and ready to help those who want and need access to the business community. –DC

 

Mike Victorson
Leading By Example

Business leader. Dedicated. Passionate. Energetic. Those are some of the words that have been used to describe Mike Victorson. Since taking over as CEO of M3 Insurance Solutions for Business in 2005, he has put a focus on giving and the importance of making an impact in your community as both an organization and as individuals. But he didn’t just talk the talk. In 2009, Mike became the campaign chair for the United Way of Dane County, reaching out to other organizations to share United Way’s mission and how they can make a
difference. Here are two more words that can be used to describe Mike: Community and Leader. –DC

 

  

The Good Neighbor

 

Bob Queen 
A Musical Mind

A former goat farmer turned DNR photographer, Bob Queen has devoted himself to the Marquette neighborhood, organizing twenty-one years of neighborhood festivals and the Eastside Express, a free summer camp for youth. With the best international music Rolodex in town, Queen is passionate about music, calling festival organizing a “selfish pursuit.” Since retiring from the DNR three years ago, Queen spends his retirement tirelessly scouting for bands in Europe, Louisiana and Canada, hitting up sponsors, arranging travel for musicians, and watching the skies for rain at the Marquette Waterfront Festival, La Fête de Marquette, the Orton Park Festival and the Willy Street Fair. –CC

 

 

The Justice League

 

Edward Lee
A Man To Count On

There are few people who have been more loyal to an organization or cause than Edward Lee, who has been with the Urban League of Greater Madison for more than fifteen years serving in various roles, most notably senior vice president. On two occasions over the past six years, the Urban League has had a change in the CEO position. During both of those transitions, Lee has stepped in to serve as interim CEO, even though he knew that by doing so, he would not be considered for the permanent position. He truly believes in the Urban League, its mission and the people that it serves. And it shows. –DC

  

 

Kaleem Caire
The Changemaker

A native son returns home. Thirty-eight-year-old Kaleem Caire was born and raised in Madison, graduating from West High School and UW–Madison before moving to Washington, D.C., where he achieved national recognition as a leader on education and community development issues. He is co-founder of the Next Generation Education Foundation and was founding president and CEO of the Black Alliance for Educational Options. It took a big job to bring him back. President and CEO of the Urban League of Dane County is that job. Thoughtful, focused and willing to push the envelope on behalf of the African American community and a city he loves, Caire carries high expectations— none higher than his own. –NH

 

 

 

Shannon Barry
The Ultimate Advocate

Shannon Barry, executive director of Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, posts photos and obituaries of the people who’ve died from domestic violence above her desk to stay focused on her mission. DAIS runs the only domestic violence shelter in Dane County, a bursting-at-the-seams facility with twenty-five beds that Barry has committed to expand. Also an accomplished actor, dancer and choreographer, Barry is emotional about the plight of survivors and hopes to bring the epidemic out of the shadows and into the public eye. “I hope we can have a community conversation about ending domestic violence. These deaths are preventable. And I can’t think of a better community to do it.” –CC

 

Mona Adams Winston
The Community Treasure

There are many people who serve the Greater Madison community, but very few have done it with as much grace and humility as Mona Adams Winston. Name any positive African American themed event: Juneteenth, Streetball & Block Party, Urban League of Greater Madison annual dinner, and so on … and you will find that Adams Winston is involved in some fashion. Couple that with her day job at the Second Harvest Foodbank, and it’s easy to understand why Adams Winston is one of Madison’s most dedicated residents. She does it not for the recognition, or to draw attention to herself—she does it for love of community. –DC

 

Pamela Bean
Fighting the Epidemic

Almost as numbing as the effects of alcohol? The constant reminders of its tragic impact on our community. That’s why it’s helpful when fresh voices weigh in, providing new perspectives while reminding us that crusaders against alcohol’s destructive tendencies aren’t always hard-line prohibitionists; they’re people like Pamela Bean, executive director of research at Rogers Memorial Hospital, a well-respected behavioral health center in Oconomowoc that treats alcohol addiction, eating disorders and mental illnesses. Now she’s translating her vast knowledge base as a voting member of Madison’s Alcohol License Review Committee, and is piloting a state program focused on new strategies to monitor alcohol consumption in repeat intoxicated drivers. –BN

 

 

The Athletic Aces

 

Andrea Nelson
The Ring Leader

With a record as a professional boxer of 9-1-1, Andrea Nelson has been called Wisconsin’s best female fighter ever. Nelson is the lead boxing instructor at Ford’s Gym, the Winnebago Street site of Madison’s only real boxing ring, where she has worked closely with Madison boxing legend Bob Lynch and Madison’s own former world champion, Eric Morel. At forty-four, Nelson says she still considers making a comeback. In the meantime, men and women who want to learn how to box can start a four-week session of lessons with Nelson at Ford’s on the first Monday night of every month for $15 each ($8 for Ford’s Gym members). Nelson also teaches more advanced fighters at Ford’s and leads anyone brave enough through the intense boxers’ workout. –DB

 

Paul Chryst
Coaching Classic

Throughout the Badgers’ dismantling of the Miami Hurricanes defense in last year’s Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, the game’s announcers focused at least twice as much attention (unofficially) on offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Paul Chryst as on head coach Bret Bielema. That will happen when you outgain your opponent 430 to 249 and control the ball for almost forty minutes. With all but one starter on offense returning and a preseason national ranking close to the top ten, that attention has not abated. How long before Chryst, a Madison native and three-time Badger letter winner, makes like former Badgers offensive coordinator and current Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress and moves to the next level? –DB

 

Luke Tweddale
Skating for Gold

Speed skater Luke Tweddale, sixteen, with incredible support from parents Jenina and John, is on the arduous journey to live his dream. Certainly the legacy of the sport’s champions who hail from Wisconsin bodes well for Tweddale, who trains at the prestigious Pettit National Ice Center (Milwaukee) and is a member of the Madison Speed Skating Club, which has put at least one of its own on every Olympic team since 1972. Catch him this month competing in the Can Am, and if his stars are aligned, at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. –BN

 

 

The Dessert Diva

 

Gail Ambrosius
Business Goes Big Time

Being called “America’s Best” for anything is pretty sweet. But for Gail Ambrosius it’s literally a sweet award. The editors of Food Network Magazine declared that the chocolatier makes the “best little box of chocolates” in their September issue, and she appeared on a series on the network too. The chocolatier has been in business six years this month—and the Huffington Post, Midwest Living, More and Bon Appetit have all savored Ambrosius’ dark chocolates.“Getting national recognition is icing on the cake,” says Ambrosius. –SM

 

 

 

 

The Faithful

 

Nic Gibson
Preaching to a New Choir

Like many mega churches that sprouted up and out too fast here and around the country, High Point Church lost its footing after tension among leadership led to a drop in attendance and financial difficulties. This year thirty-three-year-old evangelical pastor Nic Gibson was recruited from a Methodist church in Florida to lead the non-denominational congregation into better days. He’s also poised to lead them into the digital age: his blog, nicgibson.org, is an entertaining hodgepodge of informal video clips about HPC goings-on mixed with personal anecdotes, samples of his sermons in progress and, of course, his Twitter feed. –BN

 

James Hawk
The Life Saver

Arise Family Services is an organization that provides support for men and women who are suffering from mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse and for those who are re-entering society after incarceration. They offer housing, job training, career planning, counseling and structure to help people put their lives back together. Leading this effort is executive director James Hawk, who has dedicated his life to helping others break the cycle of addiction and a life of crime that leads back to prison. It isn’t glamorous work, but if you ask any of the men and women whose lives Hawk has touched, they’ll tell you that it’s life-saving work. –DC

 

 

The Healers

 

Gale Sisney
Cancer Crusher

After the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force dropped a confusing bomb about mammography guidelines, Gale Sisney, chief of breast imaging at the UW Carbone Cancer Center, went on the defensive. She reiterated the facts about the causes and cures of breast cancer—including when, how and why women should be screened. Then she spearheaded Komen for the Cure Madison and Wisconsin Well Woman Program’s project to provide free mammograms (and free rides thanks to Smart Motors) to under- and uninsured women as part of October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month activities. The name of the effort, Smart Women Care, couldn’t be more fitting. –BN

 

Anne Traynor
Driving Hope 

Oncologists spend their careers vigorously preventing and treating cancer. But because Anne Traynor is a lung cancer specialist at the UW Carbone Cancer Center, she also spends an inordinate amount of her days and nights educating colleagues and the community about how deadly the disease is and raising money to fight it. Not only is Traynor a PowerPoint pro on leading research and treatment, she was a major player in the successful campaign to fund a lung cancer wing—shared with the head and neck cancer team—in the new Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research. To the family and friends who’ve lost too many loved ones to the disease that has long been plagued by the stigma of smoking, she is calm and compassionate—an unsung hero who practices medicine with both head and heart. –BN

 

 

The Up-and-Comer

 

Bridget Maniaci
Tackling the Issues

Another up-and-comer, District 2 Alder Bridget Maniaci has already proved herself cool under fire. After taking down the
influential Progressive Dane leader Brenda Konkel, the rookie found herself on the Landmarks Commission and in the middle of the Edgewater Hotel battle. But she stood her ground, won respect and is poised to be a leading voice in the most important regional development project of the next twenty-five years, the Capital East Corridor effort. In a city that needs more young people to move into leadership roles, Maniaci seems ready to step up. –NH

 

 

The Thinkers

 

Lew Friedland
Forecasting the Future

UW Journalism & Mass Communication professor Lew Friedland has always trained the journalists of the future. But lately his work is more and more creating the journalism of the future. Friedland uses his background in both sociology and the day-to-day news biz to research and teach the nexus of community structures and civic and public life, with a major focus on public journalism. His work is shaping “hyper-local” reporting projects in Seattle and Madison and, as always, is being followed by global civic engagement shapers like the Kettering Foundation. –NH

 

 

 

 

 

Norm Fost
Fostering Ethics

In a community where some of the most cutting-edge biomedical science and research in the world are conducted on a daily basis, it is reassuring to have an ethicist as highly respected as Norm Fost. With the heart of a pediatrician and the intellect of a graduate of Harvard, Yale and Princeton, Fost researches such ethical issues as genetic screening and the definition of death. But if you want a really good time, engage this member of the UW Athletic Board (yup, that too) in a discussion of athletes using performance-enhancing drugs. Should it come to deciding whether to pull my plug, Fost’s the guy I want in the room. –NH

 

 

The Grand Dames

 

Sarah Day & Sarah Whelan
Leading Ladies Leave Lasting Legacies

Twenty-five years ago, Sarah Day began acting with American Players Theatre in Spring Green. Over the years, she’s evolved from young ingénue to leading lady to a wide-ranging character actor—and become one of our most-loved actresses. The Madison native is quick to admit she’s an anomaly in the theater world. “I’ve been lucky enough to keep working,” she says. “It’s a rarity for an actor to be able to do what they love.” Her time at APT has allowed Day to build a trust with actors and directors that’s paid off onstage. “You can just take many more risks,” she says. She’s also branched out from the classical theater company, most recently acting with Forward Theater Company and serving on its advisory committee. –KV

A fixture of the Madison theater scene, Sarah Whelan has performed for sixty years in the United States and internationally in hundreds of roles ranging from Eleanor of Aquitane to a recent turn as a meth-addled cop in The Butcher of Baraboo. She raised four children (bouncing twins on her laps during rehearsals), and rolled up her sleeves to renovate and launch the Bartell Theatre. Her Monona Drive digs are a favored location for rehearsals, readings and fundraisers. “I can’t stand to see actors go hungry,” she laughs. When her beloved husband Jack passed away eleven years ago, Whelan kept on trucking. At seventy-three, her boundless energy and generosity put younger folks to shame. –CC

 

 

 

 

  

The Retail Rockstars

 

 

Being featured in GQ, Esquire, Details, Chicago Magazine and The New York Times Style Magazine is no small feat. And yet high-end men’s boutique Context has managed mentions in all those fashion behemoths. Plus an opportunity many retailers only dream of: designer collaborations on items sold exclusively at their store. Notable examples include Kenton Sorenson’s leather goods, Alden Shoes (the “Roy” style is named after co-owner Ryan Huber’s dad) and various denim lines.

Atticus is where the cool kids shop. The effortlessly stylish Kristin Wild (shown below) has an impeccable eye for scouting out the latest fashions. Her newest finds? Rag & Bone for men, Raleigh Denim, Alice by Temperley. The go-to look book Lucky magazine featured Wild on a blog this year, and it’s guaranteed that you’ll see an under-the-radar brand or item she carries in a major fashion blog or magazine every few weeks.

Art is serious; art is fun, especially at Absolutely Art. This laid-back, neighborhood-focused gallery and gift shop  features an urban sculpture garden and tons of locally made trinkets and one-of-a-kind art pieces to spice up your life. Gallery manager Meghan Blake-Horst even started a Re-Art Swap, an eco-friendly art exchange that encourages customers to bring in unused or leftover art supplies for trade. It’s been a popular community event three years running, and was recognized nationally by NICHE Magazine, named the winner in its “best promotional event” category. –SM  

 

Neil Heinen is editorial director, Brennan Nardi is editor and Shayna Miller and Katie Vaughn are associate editors of Madison Magazine. Dustin Beilke, Catherine Capellaro and Derrell Connor are Madison-area writers.

 

 

Read about Madison Magazine's 2010 Person of the Year here.

Find the Top Madisonians of 2009 here.

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