People of the Year

35 Madisonians Who Made 2011 Better

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Mother Teresa told the world that if you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one. Every day, all over this city, people practice what she preached. In food pantries, parks, churches, museums, health care facilities, libraries, gardens, community centers and corner offices—one by one but also in uniquely Madison partnerships—people are out there making life better.

 

 

Gifts from the Heart: Diane Ballweg

Diane Ballweg“I’m always eager to speak to people about giving and how it changes the world,” says Diane Ballweg, who volunteers and serves on more than a dozen boards, including the Endres Foundation, the family business nonprofit she created that gives $75,000 to the community annually. She is on committees to build a visual and theater arts center at Edgewood College as well as to raise $77 million for the Wisconsin Historical Society. She chaired the recently completed “Madison Cares,” Porchlight’s $3.5 million housing and services campaign for homeless people suffering from serious mental illness in Dane County. “She’s leading big, important capital campaigns while donating her own money generously and strategically,” says Jan Gietzel, executive director of A Fund for Women. “What I appreciate most about Diane is that she gives her gifts a lot of thought and she gives from her heart. She truly gives from her heart.” In her role as philanthropist, Ballweg joined the ranks of Women Moving Millions, a worldwide support network for gifts over $1 million. “The joy of changing lives in an affirming way, the constructive impact of money invested in a good causes, the personal satisfaction of making a difference in the world, the doors that open to new relationships and opportunities … all of these are reasons to give and give generously.”

Investing in our Kids: Mary Burke

Why she gives: “Because others need it more than I.”Mary Burke

Her giving strategy: “I focus most of my efforts on the issues surrounding the achievement gap, and equities and incomes, and what we can do about that. I think Madison has an incredibly challenging issue of a very large size … but also we have to really do something about it now. It’s not just replacing government money; it’s how much we need to step it up and get ahead of the issues and solve them instead of accepting the status quo.”

How she became aware of the achievement gap: “I was overseeing a study of the financial situation for Milwaukee public schools. I wondered how this looked in Madison. I was absolutely shocked to see kids of color here were performing no better than kids of color there on standardized reading scores.”

On Madison Prep charter school: “To me it’s, ‘Let’s not put all our eggs in one basket. Let’s do more than the minimum.’ We just really need to make sure that every kid in this district regardless of color is striving and has a positive vision of the future for themselves.” [Editor’s note: In early October, Burke donated $2.5 million to the Urban League’s Madison Preparatory Academy initiative.]

On what might compel more community giving: “I think people will give; they just need to see solutions and not problems.”

What people say about her: “She’s really an unsung hero because she expects nothing in return for everything she does.” – Kathleen Woit, Madison Community Foundation

Takes to the Top: Michael Johnson

Michael JohnsonThe Boys & Girls Club is a bustling after-school enterprise with kids from across the city coming and going between two clubs and seven school sites six days a week. Its dozens of youth programs serve more than two thousand youth members. Under CEO Michael Johnson’s leadership the organization’s accomplishments are impressive: this year one hundred percent of the AVID/TOPs college readiness program participants are heading to college and ninety-four percent of the kids in the College Club for students through eighth grade showed improvement in reading and math. While the club’s academic, tech, health, recreation and creative arts offerings are many and varied, an innovative financial literacy program has taken off like wildfire. The youth-chartered STAR Credit Union, which allows members to join for as little as a quarter, has nearly five hundred accounts. Johnson credits a generous community, talented and professional staff, and myriad school and community partnerships for helping the club achieve its goals. Those partnerships came in handy last spring, when Johnson saw the devastation from the tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri. He led a communitywide volunteer effort to deliver truckloads of food, water, clothing and first-aid kits to the Boys & Girls Club of Joplin. “Agencies like the Boys & Girls Club played an instrumental role in my development and I feel privileged to be able to pave the way for others,” says Johnson, who recently accepted a fleet of five new vehicles donated by Kayser Ford and others.

A Tradition of Giving: Tim and Kevin Metcalfe 

Tim Metcalfe jokes that he doesn’t know how to spell the word “no.” Luckily he and brother Kevin of Metcalfe’s Market say yes, whether it’s to Tim and Kevin Metcalfethe Boys & Girls Club, American Family Children’s Hospital, Second Harvest, Clean Lakes Alliance or their family’s philanthropic baby, Brat Fest, started by community-minded father Tom. The event just passed the $1 million mark in money raised for community nonprofits. Also this year Kevin and Tim formed the Brat Fest Endowment Fund so their late father’s legacy will continue for generations. “Metcalfe’s doesn’t just motivate and encourage others to take leadership roles in philanthropy and community involvement—they lead the way,” says the Boys & Girls Club’s Michael Johnson. And now they’re leading an effort to reinvigorate John Nolen Drive. “The Nolen Centennial Project’s vision is to connect, unify and enhance the abundant natural, cultural and recreational assets surrounding John Nolen between the Beltline and Monona to create a world-class lakefront park, education and event destination,” says Tim. “Someday this will be an economic catalyst for the entire community.” While he appreciates recognition for his community work, “I don’t really consider it a service,” he says. “I follow my heart.” A similar sentiment comes from Kevin, who gives “because I love my town. Because I care. And most of all, I give because I like knowing that even I can make a difference.”

Homeward Bound: Rachel Krinsky

Rachel KrinskyAbout me: “I have served The Road Home as executive director for the past eleven years. During those years we have grown from a small start-up providing emergency family shelter through collaboration with local congregations into a multi-program organization that helps families move from homelessness to stable housing.” [Editor’s note: Krinsky was recently hired to lead YWCA Madison.]

What I’m most proud of: “This year marks the completion of The Road Home’s $4.5 million Housing & Hope campaign. The Housing & Hope apartments provide affordable rent and on-site case management services to families through a unique model developed by The Road Home. Fifteen Housing & Hope apartments opened on Madison’s north side in 2009 and the completion of the campaign enables us to develop another fifteen units. Fifteen formerly homeless families, including forty-two children, live at Housing & Hope. These kids are able to walk to their neighborhood school, bring a friend home to play, and wake up each morning knowing where they will sleep at night. Their parents are working, studying, learning financial management and other skills, and regaining their pride as parents and community members. We will be thrilled to offer these simple, everyday experiences to fifteen more families.”

Skills Builder: Baltazar de Anda-Santana

Baltazar de Anda-Santana“2011 has been a great year to serve the Madison community. Through my work at Vera Court Neighborhood Center, I had the opportunity to co-found an exciting new program called the Latino Academy of Workforce Development. At LAWD, we have spent the past year providing culturally sensitive employment services and industry-specific job skills training in Spanish. We have served over 1,000 Latino students with our job skill trainings, computer classes, business development and employment programs. Our computer classes, which have been LAWD’s most popular offering by far, have expanded to include six levels, from basic skills all the way to Web design, and we employ a staff of five professional computer instructors. Our students are hard-working adults; they raise families and work full-time, yet they are so dedicated to improving their lives that they arrive to class every week ready to trade their time and experience for knowledge and support … Students who graduate from our computer classes return to teach our computer classes … Without the volunteerism of our students, LAWD quite frankly would not exist. I am very proud just to be included as a member of this community.

The two things that make me most hopeful in life are community and education, which are also the values that guide everything that is done at Vera Court Neighborhood Center. I always joke that if one day you cannot find me at Vera, it will be because I have returned to Mexico to establish a community center similar to Vera Court.”

Care Giver: Susan Derse Phillips

It’s quite remarkable for a community to tout its end-of-life health care facilities as one of its crown jewels, but to understand why, look no Susan Derse Phillipsfurther than to its president and CEO Susan Phillips.

“Susan is an outstanding leader, devoted to our community,” says Tom Ragatz, a volunteer and board member of what is now known as Agrace HospiceCare (formerly HospiceCare Inc.). “She has energy that I wish I could bottle and sell.”

With revenues of $50 million, 500 staff, 1,000 volunteers and 650 patients served daily, Agrace under Phillips’ sixteen-year tenure is one of the most efficient, effective and employee-focused businesses around. For her accomplishments Phillips has received this year’s Philanthropy Day Award for Outstanding Fundraising Professional.

What’s her secret? “Friend-raising first and fundraising second,” says Phillips. “Only until a donor knows what we do, how we do it and the quality that is delivered to patients and their families will they consider a gift. Their gifts are what make us different from hospices across the county.”

Outside Agrace she spends time mentoring. She’s proud to be working with Domestic Abuse Intervention Services on its capital campaign to open a new shelter. “It is a need for which we Madisonians should be embarrassed and clearly something that deserves our attention and dollars,” she says.

On a personal note, Phillips has been fighting a battle of her own lately, and deeply appreciates the support she’s received during her illness. “I am most proud of exceptional staff, leaders and board who have stepped in to fulfill HospiceCare’s mission in my absence.”
 

Rebecca Krantz and Don KatzTeam Effort: Rebecca Krantz and Don Katz

Though Don Katz and Rebecca Krantz are this year’s Philanthropy Day Award recipients for Individual Philanthropist, they approach community service as a team. Their influence and impact are best described by the people who serve with them.

Paul Terranova, Lussier Community Education Center: “In my capacity as executive director, I have seen firsthand the outcomes of the thoughtful
philanthropy practiced by Don and Rebecca. When we were raising money to create the LCED, they were early donors and believers in our project. They had taken the time to truly understand what it was the organization stood for and what we wanted to accomplish. While their gift may not have been the largest, we valued it deeply because it came from such thoughtful, committed and discerning people.”

Salli Martyniak, Forward Community Investments: “They give of their talent as part of the traditional Jewish belief that it is humanity’s responsibility to repair the world, tikkun olam, through social action and the pursuit of social justice. The emphasis of tikkun olam is on using one’s talents to perform acts of social responsibility and to fix, not undo, the world as we know it.”

Amy Mondloch, Grassroots Leadership College: “With their assistance, our organizations become not merely funded, but more effective.”

As a volunteer with Grassroots Leadership College, Rebecca took her community organizing talents to the streets, organizing and training in civil disobedience during the state Capitol protests. And together she and Don helped launch the Center for Progressive Leadership’s political leaders fellowship training, the first in Wisconsin. “We want our community and our state to be a good place to live for everyone,” says Don. “Not just for ourselves.”

At the Center: Crystel Anders

“As executive director of Community Shares of Wisconsin, I am most committed to the important work of our sixty-three member nonprofit Crystel Andersorganizations. This year marks our fortieth anniversary and I have had the honor of documenting, through interviews, what forty years of change looks like. It is through this retrospective lens that we see the power of community. I am honored to be a part of the community that is Community Shares of Wisconsin, and as a leader I believe I provide the support needed to keep us moving forward together. I believe that as individuals we have more in common than not, and by working together we can be a powerful vehicle for change.

I am most proud of my role with the launching of the new Center for Change. For over two years I have met with interested nonprofit organizations, potential sponsors and interested individuals to explore the possibilities of creating a space where people can meet and work together to build a community that is fair and just for everyone … The center provides a space for us to meet and find our common ground. I give because I want to make other people’s lives and our world a better place. As someone who has been lucky enough to have resources to give—including time, money and skills—I feel both a need and an obligation to share those resources.” 

A Work of Art: Russell Panczenko

Russell PanczenkoThe reason for expanding was simple: they ran out of room at the Elvehjem Museum of Art, which opened in 1970 with a collection of 1,600 objects. A $43 million capital campaign ensued, and with a lead gift of $25 million by alumni Simona and Jerome Chazen, the museum’s footprint has doubled to accommodate the current collection of more than 20,000 works of art.

As director of the renamed Chazen Museum of Art, Russell Panczenko has skillfully balanced ongoing operations of the existing facility with a mission to create one of the leading university art museums in the country. “The building design is beautiful and very functional,” he says.

Now Panczenko is finally able to bring a variety of important pieces out of storage and into the galleries, as well as display recently acquired art and present significantly more exhibitions, including paintings from the Chazen family's own rich collection featured through March. More public events like artist talks, films and family activities are on tap, with the goal of extending the museum’s offerings far beyond the walls of the university and into the community—the Wisconsin Idea at work.

Caden CollinsChild's Playground: Caden Collins

When Caden Collins’s friend told him about the kids in Haiti whose toys “fell through cracks in the earth” after the 2010 earthquake, the kindergartener decided to do something about it. He asked his pastor, the Rev. Ken Smith at St. John’s Lutheran, for help. One thing led to another, and Caden found himself presenting a check to the head of Lutheran World Relief.

To date “Caden’s Fund for the Children of Haiti” has raised $8,000—$7,000 more than Caden had hoped for. The money will be used for playgrounds staffed by psychologists to work with children on dealing with the effects of the earthquake. In May, Caden received the Youth Good Samaritan award from the American Red Cross Badger Chapter, part of its annual Real Heroes program.

“I wanted the children of Haiti to be able to have things to play with so they didn’t get bored and think about the earthquake so much,” says Caden, now an eight-year-old second grader at Arboretum Elementary School in Waunakee.

Naturally, parents Craig and Ronda Collins are very, very proud.

Retooling Tenney: Terrence Wall, Mary Lang Sollinger and John E. Wall

John E. Wall has donated more of his time and money than many of us are lucky enough to give in a lifetime. In 2011 alone, Wall’s generosityTerrence Wall, Mary Lang Sollinger and John E. Wall has reached the worlds of health care (St. Mary’s and the UW Carbone Cancer Center), children (Troop 5, Boy Scouts of America) and education (Edgewood College’s Visual and Theatre Arts Center), to name just a few. And for the thirty-seventh straight year, he’s volunteered for winter rescue and first aid on Devil’s Head Mountain.

What Wall is most proud of this year is being able to guarantee the renovation of the Tenney Park Shelter with a gift of $250,000 on behalf of his family—his wife and eleven children who’ve enjoyed the park through the years. As head of the Wall Family Enterprise—known locally as Demco, Inc.—Wall says he gives “so that our grandchildren, great grandchildren, and the children and grandchildren of my co-workers here will enjoy the privilege of living in this community.”

Wall’s son Terrence has fond memories of his boyhood adventures at Tenney. Noticing a need for a renovation of the east-side park’s sixty-year-old shelter, the local commercial developer drew up a plan in 2007 and intended to fund the entire project personally. After sharing the sketches with then-mayor Dave Cieslewicz and Madison Parks superintendent Kevin Briski, and bringing independent fundraising professional Mary Lang Sollinger on board, the modest makeover became an entirely new project. The new shelter construction is nearing completion at an estimated cost of $1.2 million, with $500,000 in city funding.

The building will open in time for ice-skating and hockey season. In addition to its current use as a shelter and warming house with concessions and equipment rentals, the new John Wall Family Pavilion will also provide a welcoming, versatile space for meetings, celebrations and gatherings of all kinds. Sollinger formed and chairs the volunteer effort. She has spent countless hours over the last four years coordinating and organizing with park staff, city committees, architects and neighborhood residents to guarantee that the new facility meets the needs of the community.

“Madison has had the good fortune of good stewards and visionaries in its making—they gave us a great legacy,” she says. “We need to respect and build to these principles and leave that kind of legacy for the next generation.”

– Brennan Nardi and Liz Wingate

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