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Agrace HospiceCare News


Agrace Adds Hospice & Palliative Physicians

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MADISON, Wis. – Agrace, Wisconsin's largest nonprofit community hospice and palliative care agency, has added two physicians to its medical services team.
Dr. Bryan Atkinson and Dr. M.J. Shah join Agrace's seven other physicians and five nurse practitioners who care for patients receiving palliative care consultations or hospice care.

Dr. Atkinson joined Agrace from Aspirus Hospice in Wausau, Wis., where he served as a medical director. He completed a hospice & palliative medicine fellowship in 2014 through Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield, Wis. His prior professional expertise included 14 years' experience in neurology and electromyography.

Dr. Shah joined Agrace from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Division of Geriatrics and Aging, Rochester, N.Y., where she was an assistant professor of clinical medicine. Shah also served as an associate medical director for the Visiting Nurse Service Hospice in Webster, N. Y. She is board certified in hospice and palliative medicine.

Founded in 1978, Agrace is a nonprofit, community-supported hospice and palliative care agency dedicated to providing exceptional care and support to patients and families facing the challenges of serious illness. With offices in Madison, Janesville and Baraboo, Agrace serves more than 650 patients every day throughout southern Wisconsin.

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Agrace to Host Volunteer Open House in Waunakee August 5

WAUNAKEE, Wis. – Agrace, Wisconsin’s largest nonprofit community hospice and palliative care agency, will host a volunteer information open house on Wednesday, August 5, from 9:00 a.m. – Noon at the Waunakee Senior Center, 333 S. Madison St. in Waunakee.

Caeli Houden, a Waunakee resident and Agrace volunteer with more than nine years of experience working with hospice patients in their homes, will discuss how volunteering for Agrace is rewarding and can make a meaningful difference for patients and families living in Waunakee.

“Whether I am providing relief for a caregiver or sitting bedside with a patient, I know that the volunteer work I am doing for Agrace has a direct and positive impact. It is both heartwarming and challenging, but always worth it,” said Houden.

Agrace home care volunteers, like Houden, visit with patients in their homes, assist with light housekeeping, provide companionship and respite for caregivers and much more. Agrace has more than 15 volunteer roles, including specialty roles such as pet visits, hand massage, cosmetology, and music and art therapy.

There are several volunteer roles that do not involve direct patient care, but support Agrace staff and visitors, including community outreach, hospitality, gardening, assisting with special events and thrift store volunteering. Volunteers are always needed for Agrace’s three thrift stores located in Janesville and on Madison’s east and west side.

In 2014, Agrace’s generous volunteers donated more than 70,000 hours to serving hospice patients in southern Wisconsin. For more information about volunteering contact Agrace’s Volunteer Services Department at 608-327-7163 or visit agrace.org/volunteer.

Founded in 1978, Agrace is a nonprofit, community-supported hospice and palliative care agency dedicated to providing exceptional care and support to patients and families facing the challenges of serious illness. With offices in Madison, Janesville and Baraboo, Agrace serves more than 675 patients every day throughout southern Wisconsin.

Spheres of influence: 2015 most influential people in Greater Madison

Spheres of influence: 2015 most influential people in Greater Madison

By Joe Vanden Plas
In Business, July 2015

A dominant theme among this year’s Most Influential honorees is crisis management. From Police Chief Mike Koval to District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, area leaders had a great deal to contend with and more than a few anxious moments.

Fortunately, not every member of the 2015 Most Influential roster had an uncomfortable spotlight shining on them. Nevertheless, they share a unique trait: Each of them offered something significant during the past year.

A number of Most Influential nominees have had a significant impact in our community for a long time, but to be considered most influential this year, we crudely asked: What have you done for us lately?

We thank all those who came forward with nominations for 2015. For next year, additional nominations will be accepted via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . With that, here is our second annual look at the Most Influential people in greater Madison.

Barry Alvarez: Reigning Legend

It’s hard to explain to young Badger fans just how low the UW football program had sunk by 1989, but envision a half-empty Camp Randall Stadium, the humiliation of weekly beat downs, and an excuse-making coach who was in over his head.

When Barry Alvarez was plucked from Lou Holtz’s Notre Dame staff to fix things, he brought a winning pedigree and began what is now a 25-year run of quality that he’s extended as UW athletic director. Big Ten championships, Rose Bowls, Final Fours, Heisman Trophy winners, National Players of the Year, and national Hall of Fame inductions that once seemed impossible are now occasional and realistic expectations.

The UW athletic department’s consistent excellence is sometimes taken for granted, but you could argue that Alvarez’s influence extends well beyond UW athletics. Would Madison have become such a sport-crazed town if Alvarez hadn’t lit the fuse by making Badger Saturdays a can’t-miss event? It’s a debatable point.

You could certainly make a case for former AD Pat Richter, the man who hired Alvarez (and Stu Jackson, Dick Bennett, and Bo Ryan), and you could certainly give a nod to former Chancellor Donna Shalala, who hired Richter, but the first coach they selected had to be a difference-maker. Twenty-five years later, he still is.

Julia Arata-Fratta: Business Believer

Julia Arata-Fratta might have stepped down as president of the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Dane County, but not before demonstrating award-winning leadership for an organization credited with growing and advancing the interests of the Latino business community and workforce. The Wisconsin Women of Color Network, Brava Magazine, and the Community Leader awards program have all recognized her work in business development, but that’s only a beginning.

An accounting professional with Wegner CPAs & Consultants, her leadership is also demonstrated as a director on the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce board, a member of the South Central Advisory Team of the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp., a part-time faculty member at Madison College, where she teaches small business courses in accounting and taxation, and as a new board member for Agrace, the community hospice and palliative care agency.

Arata-Fratta understands the needs of the Latino business community and the overall economy. She has called for the establishment of a micro-incubator to support new women-owned businesses, and she has been outspoken in support of comprehensive immigration reform and the Dream Act.

As a newly elected Fitchburg alder and a member of the Fitchburg Community Economic Development Authority, her economic influence will continue as a municipal leader.

George Austin: Entrepreneurial Enabler

Given his role in advancing the entrepreneurial hub known as StartingBlock Madison, George Austin is hardly resting on past economic development laurels. Based on those past accomplishments, few could blame him if he thought it was time to pass the business development baton to someone else.

Not Austin, who as president of AVA Civic Enterprises now provides services to the owners and sponsors of  various complex development projects. He certainly has plenty of experience with such enterprises, with tenure as president of the Overture Foundation (the private foundation that developed the $210 million Overture Center for the Arts) and his role as project director for the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery and the Morgridge Institute for Research at UW–Madison. Austin also spent 15 years as director of planning and development for the City of Madison, influencing projects such as Monona Terrace and the Block 89 redevelopment.

Along with advancing the controversial renovation of State Street’s Block 100, he’s taken on the development of StartingBlock. By putting entrepreneurs in touch with peers, mentors, and investors, the planned East Washington Avenue facility could help address one of Wisconsin’s urgent economic challenges — its comparatively low number of new business starts.

Kurt Bauer: Policy Promoter

As president and CEO of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), Kurt Bauer is on a legislative roll. The leader of the organization that essentially serves as the state’s chamber of commerce has been knocking a lot of priorities off its legislative bucket list, most notably the transformation of Wisconsin into a right-to-work state.

Whether or not you like WMC, getting such priorities passed begins with persuading, through issue advocacy, enough Wisconsin voters to put like-minded people in the State Capitol. In making the case for right-to-work legislation, Bauer opined that Wisconsin’s transformation from what he called an anti-business state to a pro-business state has been remarkable, but also incomplete.

While Madison progressives would take issue with what the 3,800-member WMC considers “pro-business” or “pro-reform,” the organization convinced a legislative majority and an initially reluctant Gov. Scott Walker that right-to-work is a matter of worker freedom and would improve the state’s business climate.

Under Bauer, who previously served as CEO of the Wisconsin Bankers Association, WMC has also moved the needle on a range of business-related issues such as regulatory certainty, tax relief, and workforce training.

Rebecca Blank: Higher-Education Crusader

When Gov. Scott Walker proposed $300 million in cuts to the University of Wisconsin System, his most outspoken critic was UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank. It’s not just that she was outspoken, it was the impact of her advocacy — particularly the competitive disadvantages created by associated faculty changes — that helped turn public opinion against the governor’s plan.

Even though state lawmakers — no doubt hearing from concerned constituents — watered down the governor’s proposed cuts, disappointing revenue projections meant the legislature could not restore everything. So while 84% of UW–Madison’s projected job cuts would come from attrition (i.e., open jobs that will remain unfilled), 70 existing jobs will be lost in various academic departments.

Blank, however, had made her point about the faculty retention impacts of such a draconian measure at a university that brings in $1 billion annually in federal research grants, thanks largely to the grant-winning ability of its faculty. Meanwhile, Walker, a likely presidential candidate, not only saw his economic development chops take a hit, his standing in public opinion polls eroded to the point where he would be beaten by Hillary Clinton in his home state.

Stephen & Laurel Brown: Faith-Based Philanthropists

Stephen and Laurel Brown are best known for apartment management and architectural design, respectively, but after starting their own charitable foundation, their true legacy is starting to emerge. Stephen (Steve Brown Apartments) and Laurel (Brownhouse Designs) have established a foundation to serve faith-based ministries. The beneficiaries are likely to be people and families in need, the arts, and various community-building initiatives such as Porchlight Inc., the Dane County Humane Society, and American Players Theatre.

Directing a project called Upper | House, located on the second floor of University Square in the heart of the UW–Madison campus, the values-based Stephen and Laurel Brown Foundation will partner with Blackhawk Church on a collegiate ministry, establish a Center for Christian Studies, and continue to own and manage Dottie’s Ranch, a cabin retreat located in a 1,000-acre nature preserve 10 miles south of Madison.

The main initiative, however, is Upper | House, which is too multifaceted to fit one niche. Located in a former food court space, it now helps to nourish people in other ways, and it will be the scene of everything from church retreats to concerts to spiritual exploration.

Angela Byars-Winston: Diversity Mentor

At the moment, UW–Madison professor Angela Byars-Winston is intensely focused on mentor training, but she hasn’t taken her eyes off another passion — diversity. Even though a mounting collection of research demonstrates the organizational and problem-solving value of diverse workforces, old assumptions and low expectations have prevented the so-called STEM disciplines from attracting more women and minorities.

Her research into science, technology, engineering, and math mentoring will play a role in developing the next generation of scholars, and hopefully bring much-needed diversity to the STEM disciplines. With rare exceptions such as the biological life sciences, these fields are dominated by white males — white males who are approaching retirement — and should be replenished with a diverse workforce.

STEM diversity has become a high priority of the federal government, and mentoring is viewed as a key element. Byars-Winston and two colleagues were awarded a four-year, $1.4 million National Institutes of Health grant to study how mentors and the people they mentor define diversity awareness and its importance to the mentoring relationship. By improving the effectiveness of mentoring for minority and female students and employees, the belief is that STEM disciplines such as physics and engineering can finally make diverse progress.

Maurice Cheeks: Innovative Thinker

Maurice Cheeks is the director of the Wisconsin Innovation Network, a program of the Wisconsin Technology Council that serves Wisconsin’s high-tech business sector, but in truth he’s an innovative thinker in all of his endeavors. While he’s immersed in the challenges faced by technology-based businesses in Wisconsin, he’s also a Madison alder, representing District 10 on Madison’s west side, where his innovative thinking has been evident in his support of measures to aid criminal justice reform.

Case in point: His support of a ban-the-box initiative that means people with conviction records would not have to check the box asking about their criminal records on job applications. That’s not to say employers can’t still research people’s backgrounds at some point during the hiring process; rather, it’s to prevent them from using criminal records as an early screening tool. To give people with conviction records a chance to reform, the city of Madison has adopted this policy, and someday it could be required of private employers.

Cheeks is also hard at work on proposals to curb gang violence and strengthen youth mentorship. He’s not only an innovative thinker, he clearly doesn’t believe in just sitting back and watching problems unfold.

Kevin Conroy: Lifesaver

Kevin Conroy earned a spot on this list, for the second consecutive year, before we knew that Exact Sciences’ new headquarters could be part of a $125 million mixed-use development for Judge Doyle Square. The possible boost to an already vibrant downtown is one more thing on his side of the Most Influential ledger. Talk about pouring it on!

The molecular diagnostics company has already had quite a year, as Cologuard, its non-invasive test for the early detection of colon cancer, received Food and Drug Administration approval. The introduction of Cologuard to the market is driving the company’s rapid workforce growth, bringing the need to relocate from its current headquarters on Charmany Drive to a larger facility. If the JDS project is approved by year’s end, hundreds of employees eventually will work in a new 250,000-square-foot facility in downtown Madison.

Conroy, IB’s 2015 Executive of the Year, has also been influential with his outspoken opposition to proposed UW System budget cuts, and he’s also not done exploring business opportunities, as evidenced by Exact Sciences’ new partnership with the MD Anderson Cancer Center to develop blood tests for the early detection of lung cancer.

Barbara Crabb: Constitutional Judge

When U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb struck down the state of Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriage, the cries of judicial activism rang out. Despite the fact that Crabb applied a constitutional rationale — the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment — as the basis for her ruling, she was accused of promoting her personal political beliefs, not the Constitution.

Yet the clause guarantees equal protection under the law for every citizen, and there are no exceptions for sexual orientation. Yes, it was passed in the 19th century, so it didn’t institute gay marriage as a constitutional right per se, but marriage is governed by law. The authors of the 14th Amendment could not have foreseen what laws would be passed after they helped modify the Constitution, but a fair reading of the Equal Protection Clause would lead anyone to believe that no matter what future laws were passed, they wanted them to be applied equally.

By ignoring charges of social activism and applying constitutional principles, Crabb not only defended the rights of same-sex couples, the UW–Madison Law School graduate illustrated an important point of law — that marriage isn’t just between a man and a woman.

Jack E. Daniels: Disparity Fighter

It hasn’t taken long for Madison College President Jack E. Daniels to shake things up. Taking over as the college’s new president in August of 2013, he’s proposed some dramatic steps the college’s board isn’t quite prepared to support, including the sale of its downtown campus. He’s also asked the board to create a task force to examine plans for a new south-side campus because of that area’s poverty and because of the disparities faced by people of color.

Daniels is keenly aware of such disparities, having been a community college president for more than 15 years, most recently at Los Angeles Southwest College, a school with 8,000 mostly African-American and Latino students. He’s also taken a leadership role in the Our Madison Plan, a blueprint for racial progress developed by five working groups, including an economic development group co-chaired by Daniels, state Department of Financial Institutions Secretary Ray Allen, and Annette Miller, emerging markets and community development director of Madison Gas & Electric.

The group focused on both high unemployment among African-Americans and the scarcity of people of color in many professions. Among its goals are providing career and job training opportunities for African-Americans in high-demand fields.

Richard Davidson: Meditation Maverick

When you’re the most well-respected researcher in your field, and you’re a friend and confidant of the Dalai Lama, and you’ve already been recognized by Time magazine as one of the most influential people in the world, your influence is hard to question.

Richard Davidson is a renowned neuroscientist and a leading expert and researcher on the impact of meditation and other contemplative practices on the human brain. These practices are gaining more traction as a valued business tool, and Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, located in UW–Madison’s Waisman Center, has been explaining why as a sought-after expert and international speaker.

A New York Times best-selling author and a regular on the media circuit, Davidson has published hundreds of scientific papers, edited 14 books, and preached the gospel of meditation on programs such as Nightline on ABC and Charlie Rose: The Week on PBS.

From his groundbreaking work in studying the impact of emotion on the brain to his method of promoting “human flourishing,” Davidson is designing models for overcoming anxiety disorders. It has brought him honors such as the Mani Bhaumik Award, given by UCLA for advancing the understanding of the brain and the conscious mind in healing.

Judith Faulkner: Epic Entrepreneur

First, Judith Faulkner created a charitable foundation to inherit most of her stock in Epic.

Then, as if creating the Epic Heritage Foundation for the benefit of health care organizations were not enough, she recently made an enduring commitment to Giving Pledge, which welcomed Faulkner and nine other pledge signatories to a list that includes Giving Pledge founders Bill & Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. Since Giving Pledge is a global initiative that features people committed to donating the bulk of their wealth to philanthropic causes, the founder and CEO of Epic fits right in.

Not bad for a lady who in 1979 started a medical software company in the basement of her home. An excerpt from her Giving Pledge letter says everything you need to know about Faulkner’s reasoning: “Many years ago, I asked my young children what two things they needed from their parents. They said ‘food and money.’ I told them ‘roots and wings.’ My goal in pledging 99% of my wealth to philanthropy is to help others with roots — food, warmth, shelter, healthcare, education — so they too can have wings.”

Fortunately for greater Madison, the company Faulkner founded, which has grown into Dane County’s largest private-sector employer, continues to have wings of its own.

Otto Gebhardt: High-Rise Developer

If Otto Gebhardt keeps developing at this pace, he might create a new universe. Two years after opening the Constellation in the 700 block of East Washington Avenue, Gebhardt Development is now building a Galaxie in the 800 block and is pursuing plans to develop the south side of the block, as well.

By Thanksgiving, nearby residents should be able to purchase turkey and all the fixings at the Galaxie development’s first installment, a new Festival Foods grocery. The rest of the Galaxie — a mix of multifamily housing, retail, and commercial space —will be ready in the spring of 2016.

Gebhardt’s latest gambit for 140,000 square feet of mixed-use space across East Wash from the Galaxie would become the home of StartingBlock, the proposed entrepreneurial hub where innovation can flourish. It would also be the site of T Presents Madison, an independent concert and event promotion company, plus a 1,500-seat performing venue, professional offices, and educational and retail spaces.

Developing East Wash obviously is personal for Gebhardt, who grew up in the nearby Orton Park neighborhood and went to work at the tender age of 7 in the family business, then known as Gebhardt Realty.

Frank Kaminsky: Unstoppable Tank

Frank Kaminsky is living proof that you don’t have to be a McDonald’s All American to make an impact. By the time this article is published, the identity of Kaminsky’s next team, an NBA team, will be known. Whoever selected him is not only getting a self-made man, they are getting a player who really gets with the program.

In an age of one-and-done college stars, Kaminsky stands tall, all seven feet of him, as the perfect illustration of Coach Bo Ryan’s recruit-and-develop program. Kaminsky could have entered the NBA draft following his breakthrough junior season, but decided to stay for his senior season. In the process, he became college basketball’s “Player of the Year,” leading UW to a second consecutive Final Four, including an appearance in the 2015 National Championship game.

That would have sounded preposterous when “Frank the Tank” enrolled in the fall of 2011. His versatile inside-outside game would blossom during his junior year, and by the time he crumpled on the court following UW’s heartbreaking loss to Duke in the title game, he had led the Badgers to a remarkable 115-34 record, including tournament games, during his collegiate career.

Mike Koval: Mr. “Kool”

It’s a good thing for law and order that Madison Police Chief Mike Koval has uncommon poise under pressure. Koval’s composure was a key element in preventing protests over the tragic March 6 shooting of unarmed Tony Robinson by police officer Matt Kenny from becoming Ferguson-like in their destructive intensity.

When Young, Gifted, and Black Coalition leader Brandi Grayson unleashed a threatening diatribe during a meeting of the Madison City Council, he allowed her and others to vent without responding. His measured response and defense of his department came the next day in an email to Madison alders, whom he chastised for sitting in silence as Grayson promised the city would erupt when the facts came out. Well, the facts came out in subsequent investigations, and while Robinson’s death was no less tragic, the events of that evening showed that Kenny did not fire his gun without cause.

That certainly wasn’t the only occasion in which Koval kept his composure, and his ability to project a calm presence amid community frustration helped prevent more tragic deaths from occurring. It also helped Madison stand out as a community where civility rules over nihilism.

Juan José López: Latino Leader

To say that Juan José López is a leader in the Latino community is an understatement. As director of the bureau of program management and special populations for the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, López been instrumental in starting and growing both the Latino Chamber of Commerce and the Latino Professionals Association.

With the Latino Chamber of Commerce, he has developed various partnerships with corporate organizations that have increased the chamber’s ability to help Latinos start their own business ventures. For the Latino Professionals Association, he’s helped build an organization that offers networking opportunities and programming on dressing for success, resume writing, and workplace diversity and inclusion.

López always has been willing to step up and find answers, participating in the City of Madison’s “Disparity Study,” a research effort to assess the magnitude of discrimination against minorities, women, and disadvantaged business enterprises associated with Madison’s public works construction contracts.

He also remains active with a variety of organizations, serving as a board member for the Downtown Rotary, the Rotary Foundation, the Capital Times Kids Fund, and United Migrant Opportunity Services.

John & Tashia Morgridge: Dedicated Donors

In giving the largest single donation ever to the UW–Madison, John and Tashia Morgridge topped even themselves when it comes to philanthropy. The Morgridges’ generosity has already made possible countless endeavors, including the Morgridge Institute for Research and the Fund for Wisconsin Scholars, an endowment that provides grants to low-income students attending a Wisconsin public college or university.

Their latest gift of $100 million was labeled “transformative” by Chancellor Rebecca Blank because it will match other donors who fund an endowed professor, a chair, or a faculty chair. It is the lead gift for UW–Madison’s capital fundraising campaign, and it will help the all-important mission of retaining and recruiting faculty.

Moreover, it demonstrates the value of having UW alums lead in the business world. When UW–Madison touts the number of graduates who lead Fortune 500 companies, John Morgridge, the former CEO and now chairman emeritus of Cisco, is one of the people it’s talking about. Morgridge joined Cisco in 1988, when it was a 4-year-old company with 34 employees. The maker of computer networking equipment now ranks 60th on the Fortune 500, with more than $47 billion in annual sales.

Lynne Myers: Caring Care Provider

Thanks in large measure to the leadership of CEO Lynne Myers, Agrace (formerly Agrace HospiceCare) has achieved far-reaching improvements to health care quality and access, as well as education to providers. However, enhanced end-of-life and palliative-care services throughout Wisconsin’s south central region is only the beginning of her contributions.

Expanding Agrace’s Care for All program — which ensures access to care for everyone in the community, regardless of race, religion, or socioeconomic status —  was Myers’ idea. She accelerated its development after learning of misconceptions that Agrace is an organization only for upper-middle-class whites. Earlier this year, she directed the creation of a $15-million endowment campaign to ensure Agrace’s ability to provide end-of-life care for those who are unable to pay.

Also under her leadership, Agrace set agency-wide goals to increase diversity, not only among the patients it serves but also among employees and volunteers. Toward that end, she championed the organization’s minority certified nursing assistant scholarship program to offer education, employment, and continuing tuition reimbursement to people of color. Myers also commissioned the development of the Agrace Educational Institute, which prepares future hospice and palliative medicine clinicians through hands-on training.

Ismael Ozanne: Nonviolent Disciple

When he made his ruling that Officer Matt Kenny would not face criminal charges in the March 6 shooting death of Tony Robinson, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne was wise to note his mother’s involvement in the Civil Rights movement.

Knowing that similar findings had caused violent unrest and additional loss of life in Ferguson, Mo., and other cities, Ozanne’s statement helped remind people that civil rights leaders achieved historic change through nonviolent protest.

It was extremely important that Ozanne not only spell out the facts in great detail, but also that he express sorrow for the loss of life and acknowledge weaknesses in the justice system, which he did. In handling a tense situation in a “teachable moment” manner, Ozanne, who is Wisconsin’s first black district attorney, also reminded the community that peaceful protest is not only a Constitutional right, it’s also the smartest and most effective way to affect change.

It wasn’t a comfortable situation to be thrust in the national spotlight, but thanks to the way Ozanne handled a difficult situation, Madison is in a much better position to address the racial disparities that tear at its social fabric.

Dan Rashke: Redefining Leadership

Successful companies often thrive — financially and culturally — around a visible, dedicated leader. As CEO of a privately held, third-party administrator of employee benefits programs, Dan Rashke leads the charge on every aspect of Total Administrative Services Corporation’s strategy, mission, and culture.

Rashke, winner of the Brian Howell Excellence in Innovation Award, joined TASC in 1983 as chief executive officer and has been integral to TASC’s transformation to a nationally admired company. He built the firm into a $100 million entity with more than 900 employees, but that’s not really why TASC is so admired. It’s Rashke’s dedication to the broader industry and community that has elevated the company brand and also redefined what it means to be a leader.

The IB Executive Hall of Famer’s work in the community, and his enabling of employees to do the same, sets him apart. Rashke is committed to TASC’s philanthropic policy, where employees are given up to five days a year of paid time off to contribute their time, money, and minds to bettering the community. He also practices what he preaches, serving as the 2015 campaign chair for the United Way of Dane County.

Jack Salzwedel: Corporate Entrepreneur

Internet-enabled, disruptive business models have taken down established companies worldwide, and American Family Insurance has no desire to be the next Eastman Kodak, Borders, or Blockbuster. Its acquisition of smaller online businesses such as Homesite and its foray into venture capital with American Family Ventures are signs that it’s determined to stay one step ahead of Moore’s Law, as well as nurture local entrepreneurship.

The man behind this vision is CEO Jack Salzwedel, who knows full well that old customers have moved on from technology’s corporate casualties. So rather than be disrupted, he’s decided to lead disruptive change, investing roughly $1 billion in the acquisition of online businesses, launching a data science and analytics lab, ramping up American Family Ventures’ investment activities in companies such as Networked Insights and programs such as the gener8tor accelerator, and engaging in innovative partnerships with the likes of Microsoft.

He’s also committed to nurturing small businesses, which is why American Family is backing entrepreneurial thrusts such as StartingBlock Madison. Wisconsin has a difficult time adequately funding its startups, which is a corporate responsibility that Salzwedel and American Family are eager to fulfill.

Paul Soglin: Financial Sage

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has a reputation as one of the shrewdest municipal finance experts serving in government, and while that might not always be the first thing that comes to mind about him, it has served Soglin and Madison well — well enough for him to be re-elected to yet another term (we’ve lost count) as mayor in a landslide victory over alder Scott Resnick.

This is why his financial acumen is so important to the functioning of this city: Madison has a large number of tax-exempt properties in the form of government and university buildings. Upwards of 50% of the properties in the city are off limits in terms of the property tax, which is why it’s vitally important for the city (if it intends to maintain or improve the level of services it provides) to increase the value (and therefore the tax base) of remaining properties through renovation or new construction.

When the value of property increases (i.e., the several-fold increase in the property value of the Constellation site), property tax collections also rise. So as long as Soglin is the mayor, expect to see many more new, modern, and attractive structures dotting Madison’s landscape.

James Tye: Lake Lover

In 2013, local organizations were able to prevent 4,900 pounds of phosphorus from entering local lakes, resulting in an 11% reduction in phosphorus. Among those local organizations was the Clean Lakes Alliance, and given the importance of our lakes to commerce, recreation, and the overall quality of life, it has emerged as one of the most important not-for-profit organizations in the community.

Led by Executive Director James Tye, the Clean Lakes Alliance has an ambitious goal of 50% phosphorous reduction to the lakes by 2025. That would double the number of days that local lakes can be enjoyed and move us further away from a near embarrassment. It wasn’t that long ago that Madison faced a crisis that could have wounded civic pride as a high level of phosphorous in the Yahara Lakes — Mendota, Monona, Wingra, Waubesa, and Kegonsa — led to a large algae bloom that put the lakes on the cusp of being considered for a federal impaired water list.

The upside would have been federal attention and resources; the downside would have been a loss of local control. So while progress is encouraging, Tye knows the Clean Lakes Alliance must continue to steer a clear course.

Gary Wolter: Economic Visionary

When Gary Wolter, chairman and CEO of MGE Energy Inc., announced the organization’s support of StartingBlock, it surprised no one. Under his direction, Madison Gas & Electric, a subsidiary of MGE Energy, has been promoting entrepreneurism, and Wolter views StartingBlock, an entrepreneurial hub planned for the 800 block of East Washington Avenue, as a facility that could change our corner of the world.

That’s essentially what he’s been doing throughout his tenure. From MG&E’s commitment to renewable energy to his work with Thrive (now MadREP, the Madison Region Economic Partnership) and organizations such as the United Way, Wolter has worked to help Madison live up to its potential. The fact that Madison hasn’t always done that is a point of contention with Wolter, a past chairman of Thrive who has encouraged more regional collaboration on the economic development front.

Through the years, you could find Wolter serving on business boards for organizations such as American Transmission Co., Meriter Health Services (now Meriter UnityPoint Health), and University Research Park. In each endeavor, he’s had the interest of the business community and the broader community in mind, and even a controversial proposal to raise fixed utility rates can’t obscure his efforts to advance entrepreneurship, innovation, and competitiveness.

 

Agrace Strengthens Leadership Team

MADISON, Wis. – Agrace, Wisconsin's largest nonprofit community hospice and palliative care agency, has added three to its leadership team: Katherine Meyer, human resources manager; Janelle Ramsborg, director of quality and Michelle Schroeder, director of the Agrace Inpatient Unit.

Meyer Kathy 5 26 15Katherine Meyer, MS, SPHR
Katherine Meyer has joined Agrace as manager of human resources. She leads human resources functions and oversees the compensation and benefit plans. Meyer has extensive experience in both nonprofit and health care environments, emphasizing data-driven improvements to systems and processes. She brings to Agrace more than 15 years of experience in human resource management, organizational development and employee-focused innovation. She holds a master's degree in industrial/organizational psychology from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

 

Ramsborg  Janelle SmallJanelle Ramsborg, RN, BSN, MBA
Janelle Ramsborg has been named Agrace's director of quality. Ramsborg leads and directs Agrace's service excellence initiatives that focus on promoting a consistently exceptional patient and family experience. In addition, Ramsborg oversees the growth and direction of the Agrace Educational Institute, a resource for educational events and clinical expertise available to Agrace's patients and families, area health care professionals and community members seeking to learn about hospice and palliative care..

Most recently, Ramsborg, a registered nurse, worked for RTG Medical in Fremont, Neb., as director of nursing and clinical operations consultant assigned to the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services. She has extensive experience with strategic development, team building and management, project management, progressive leadership and process design. Ramsborg earned a bachelor's degree in nursing from Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, Calif., and an MBA from Loyola University, Chicago.

 

Schroeder Michelle SmallMichelle Schroeder, RN, BSN, MHA
Agrace's hospice inpatient unit in Madison is now managed by Michelle Schroeder, inpatient unit director. Schroeder oversees interdisciplinary collaboration among Agrace's staff, as well as quality assessment and performance management. She is responsible for ensuring that Agrace delivers exceptional inpatient care, consistent with hospice philosophy and best practices.

Schroeder joined Agrace from St. Mary's Hospital, Madison, and has extensive nursing and management experience in hospital settings, including cardiac surgery intermediate care, oncology and intensive care. She holds a bachelor's degree in nursing from Edgewood College, Madison, and a master of healthcare administration from the University of Phoenix.

 

Founded in 1978, Agrace is a nonprofit, community-supported hospice and palliative care agency dedicated to providing exceptional care and support to patients and families facing the challenges of serious illness. With offices in Madison, Janesville and Baraboo, Agrace serves more than 650 patients every day throughout southern Wisconsin.

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Cap Times' Evjue Foundation awards $1.45 million to UW, area nonprofits

The Capital Times' charitable arm, The Evjue Foundation, announced Wednesday that its directors have approved more than $1.4 million in grants to 86 area nonprofits plus funding for 27 programs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Included in the grants is $150,000 for the ambitious "Justified Anger" initiative unveiled last week that was created to address the troubling racial inequities that have been stubborn problems in Madison and Dane County.
That project, run under the auspices of the Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development, and the 85 other community nonprofits will share $1,093,000 in grants while the UW-Madison will receive $358,000 for its selected projects during the coming year, many of them related to the Wisconsin Idea of taking the university to the people of the state.
As has been its tradition, the foundation distributed its available funds to numerous area organizations that focus on children's education, the arts and other social service causes. Among those grants is a $75,000 grant for scholarships to students attending Madison College named in honor of John H. "Jack" Lussier, the longtime president of the Evjue Foundation.
The foundation's finances are derived from the controlling stock in The Capital Times Co. held by the late William T. Evjue, the founder and longtime editor and publisher of the newspaper. The community and the university have received gifts and grants totaling more than $52 million since the death of Mr. Evjue in 1970.
Mr. Evjue established the foundation before his death, but it was the provision in his will to distribute the income from his controlling stock in the newspaper back to the community that accelerated the giving. The grants represent a significant portion of the profits of The Capital Times Co., which is locally owned.
The William T. Evjue Charitable Trust, which holds Mr. Evjue's controlling stock in the newspaper company, distributes the income from that stock and other investments to the foundation, which in turn makes decisions about where the money will be distributed.
The foundation board consists of 15 directors. Seven are from The Capital Times Co.: Lussier, Clayton Frink, Dave Zweifel, Nancy Gage, Paul Fanlund, Jim Lussier and Laura Lussier-Lee. Four of the directors represent the UW Foundation — Jerome Frautschi, Marion Brown, Vince Sweeney and Mark LeFebvre — and four represent the Madison Community Foundation: Kathleen Woit, Steve Mixtacki, Bob Sorge and Jim Bradley. Pam Wells is the foundation's executive director and is in charge of its administration.
Here is a complete list of the 2015 grants:

UW grants

School of Journalism and Mass Communications — $10,000 for the annual William T. Evjue keynote address at the school's Ethics Center conference.
Wisconsin Idea Tour — $9,000 to help w ith expenses for the annual trip around the state to acquaint new faculty members with Wisconsin and the significance of the Wisconsin Idea.
Global Arts and Community Development — $6,500 to bring Meeta Sandeep, an internationally known community development advocate, to campus for two weeks of lectures and workshops in fall 2015.
Waisman Center — $11,500 to enhance exam rooms to minimize light and sound issues that can hinder treatment of the developmentally disabled.
UW Campus Child Care — $20,000 for improvements to the Discovery Garden to create a natural playground at the Waisman Center.
UW Odyssey Project — $25,200 in continued support of the project, which offers adults near the federal poverty level a chance to start college for free.
UW Press — $19,200 for Evjue internships in writing, editing and publishing.
Center for the Humanities — $26,000 in support of innovative Wisconsin Idea programs including a "Public Humanities Summer Institute" intended to connect graduate students to Madison.
UW Law School — $14,800 to help support the Wisconsin Innocence Project aimed at identifying wrongful convictions.
UW Dance Department — $11,000 for its "Performing Ourselves" program, a unique outreach effort to bring dance to low-income neighborhoods.
School of Human Ecology — $10,000 for its "Covering Kids and Families-Wisconsin" program, which helps low-income people obtain health care coverage.
UW Infant Early Childhood and Family Mental Health Program — $9,200 to assist the program, which seeks to identify mental health problems in young children.
UW School of Music — $3,600 for the "Your Body is Your Strad" summer institute for professional and graduate musicians, dancers, actors and cellists.
Center for the Study of the American Constitution — $9,000 for center director John Kaminski's project studying the history of the Constitution's ratification.
The Writing Center — $17,165 for the Madison Writing Assistance Program, which helps Madison-area residents use the written word to enhance their lives.
Madison Early Music Festival — $8,300 for its program, which brings world-class performers and teachers of early music to campus.
Wisconsin Union Theater — $17,000 for its world music programming during the coming academic school year.
UW Chemistry Department — $2,100 to help support its 2016 Wisconsin crystal growing competition and lecture tour.
UW School of Education — $3,000 to support its cooperative children's book center used by the campus child care system.
Chancellor's and Powers-Knapp Scholarship Programs — $9,840 to support internships in students' majors during their sophomore years.
Wisconsin Center for Academically Talented Youth — $17,000 to provide funds for the academically talented to attend residential summer programs.
Morgridge Center for Public Service — $11,000 to help fund the transportation costs incurred by students who volunteer to work at nonprofits during the school year. Some 1,500 students are involved.
Lily's Fund for Epilepsy Research — $5,000 to help support administration of this volunteer-run program, which assists children with epilepsy.
Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) — $10,200 to help make this unique UW project more digitally accessible.
Chancellor's Office — $14,395 to be used by Chancellor Rebecca Blank for worthy programs that may need help during the coming school year.
UW Foundation — $48,000 in general support of the foundation to be used for various programs at the university.
UW System — $10,000 in discretionary funds for the UW System president.

Community grants

Access Community Health Centers — $15,000 in general support of the centers' medical and dental care for low-income patients.
African Association of Madison — $1,000 to help defray the costs of Africa Fest 2015.
Agrace Hospice Care — $20,000 toward Agrace's campaign to raise money to provide hospice care to younger, mostly low-income adults who have no insurance yet face end-of-life issues.
Aldo Leopold Nature Center — $5,000 in support of the center's educational mission of teaching young people about the beauty and utility of the outdoors.
Allied Neighborhood Wellness Center — $2,500 to help cover costs of the center, which serves neighborhood residents.
Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society — $1,000 in support of the society’s annual concerts.
Badger Childhood Cancer Network — $1,000 to help cover the costs of a monthly support group for the families of children in the Madison area who have been diagnosed with cancer.
Boys and Girls Club of Dane County — $10,000 in general support of the club’s activities throughout the Madison area in working with young people.
Briarpatch Youth Services — $5,000 in support of the Youth Peer Court alternative for troubled youth.
Children’s Theater of Madison — $5,000 in general support of the theater company’s annual productions.
Clean Lakes Alliance — $5,000 to help with the alliance’s ambitious programs to clean up Madison’s lakes.
Center for Families — $5,000 in general support of the center, which houses four nonprofits that help at-risk families.
Center for Resilient Cities — $5,000 to help fund a summer Hmong language and culture enrichment program.
Centro Hispano of Dane County — $5,000 to help fund a south-side summer soccer tournament series to be held at Penn Park.
Common Wealth Development Inc. — $5,000 toward its youth-business program that teaches young people about financial realities.
Community Service Center Inc. — $5,000 to help the several organizations that share the center’s facilities meet expenses and provide services.
Community Shares of Wisconsin — $15,000 in support of the organization’s second “Big Share” event, which teaches small nonprofits how to use and leverage social media.
Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission — $75,000 to help support various arts and music programs for children in schools throughout Dane County.
Dane County School Supplies for Kids — $3,000 to help purchase school supplies for disadvantaged children.
Dane Dances! — $5,000 to help defray expenses for the annual dances on top of the Monona Terrace Convention Center, which draw a diverse audience.
Dimensions in Sound and the Studio Orchestra — $1,000 in general support of its six concerts throughout the city.
Edgewood College — $30,000 to support the college’s program for recruiting and providing scholarship help to students of color from the Dane County area.
Fighting Bob Fest — $15,000 to help underwrite the annual political chautauqua of speakers and programs to honor the legacy of the progressive Wisconsin leader Robert “Fighting Bob” LaFollette.
Fishing Has No Boundaries — $1,000 in general support of the organization’s work to provide fishing spots on Madison-area lakes that are accessible for people with disabilities.
Forward Looking Youth and Young Adults — $10,000 toward the organization’s education programs for high-risk or adjudicated teens.
Forward Theater Co. — $10,000 in general support of the community theater’s work in Madison.
Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools — $25,000 to fund several grants for interesting and unique programs initiated and conducted in classrooms.
Friends of the Nels P. Evjue School Forest — $10,000 to support maintenance of the forest near Merrill donated to the school district by William T. Evjue in honor of his father, Nels.
Friends of Wisconsin Public Television — $15,000 toward showings and presentations to racially diverse audiences of its recently completed documentary on Vel Phillips, Wisconsin’s first African-American constitutional officer.
Gathering Waters — $5,000 toward the group’s program promoting public land trusts and ensuring their protection.
Goodman Community Center — $5,000 toward the center’s annual programming.
Greater Madison Jazz Consortium — $1,000 toward a program at the Goodman Community Center to teach art skills to disadvantaged students.
Good Neighbors Personal Essentials Pantry — $2,500 to provide household essentials to poor families who don’t have budgets to afford them.
Habitat for Humanity — $15,000 in general support of the organization, which builds and remodels low-cost housing throughout Dane County.
Independent Living — $15,000 in general support of the nonprofit’s work w ith the elderly in Dane County.
Literacy Network — $10,000 in general support of the network’s programs to teach people to read.
Lussier Community Education Center — $20,000 in general support of the community center’s work with young people and families on the city’s west side.
MATC Foundation Inc. — $75,000 to underwrite scholarships — to be named in honor of John H. Lussier — for financially needy students at Madison Area Technical College (now known as Madison College).
Madison Children’s Museum — $10,000 in general support of the museum’s programs and exhibits.
Madison Community Foundation — $48,000 in general support of the foundation.
Madison Jazz Society — $1,000 to help underwrite the society’s annual Capital City Jazz festival.
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art — $5,000 in general support of the downtown art museum.
Madison Music Collective — $1,000 for its annual programming.
Madison Public Library Foundation — $10,000 to help underwrite the library’s sponsorship of Madison’s annual book festival.
Madison Symphony Orchestra — $15,000 in general support of the orchestra’s work and programs to attract young people.
Make Music Madison — $5,000 in support of the annual summer solstice citywide celebration of music featuring hundreds of musicians at numerous venues.
Martin Luther King Jr. Coalition of Madison and Dane County — $5,000 to help defray the costs of the annual MLK Jr. program at Overture Center.
Mentoring Positives — $10,000 to help the Worthington Park area organize and host several community programs for families and children.
Middleton Outreach Ministry — $8,000 to help support the ministry’s food pantry.
North-Eastside Senior Coalition — $1,000 in general support of the coalition’s work with senior citizens.
OccuPaws Guide Dog Association — $2,000 toward the association’s work to train guide dogs for the disabled.
Opera for the Young — $1,000 in support of its presentation of “Beauty and the Beast” for young people in the Madison area.
Operation Fresh Start — $5,000 in general support of the nonprofit’s work with at-risk young people to learn a trade and earn their high school diplomas.
Overture Center Foundation — $10,000 to help cover the costs of arts programs for K-12 children in an effort to expand their know ledge.
PEBOGA — $1,000 to People Building Opportunity Through Grace and Action to help support the organization’s fall gospel music fest at Madison College.
Porchlight Inc. — $20,000 to help support the organization’s ambitious program to expand services and aid for the homeless in Madison.
REAP Food Group — $20,000 in general support of REAP’s program to provide food for needy people in the Madison area.
RSVP of Dane County — $5,000 toward the organization’s work connecting young people and senior citizens.
Satellite Family Child Care — $3,000 toward the organization’s work in accrediting and aiding independent child care operations in the area.
Second Harvest Food Bank — $25,000 in general support of the food bank’s pantries.
Simpson Street Free Press — $15,000 to help fund the youth newspaper’s efforts to engage more students in the after-school academic program.
Society of St. Vincent de Paul — $10,000 to help purchase food for the society’s food pantry on Fish Hatchery Road.
StartingBlock Madison — $50,000 to support the group’s work to build a 50,000-square-foot hub for entrepreneurs on the 800 block of East Washington Avenue.
Tellurian UCAN Inc. — $10,000 in support of the nonprofit’s work to address alcohol and drug abuse problems.
The Madison Institute — $1,000 in general support of its annual speakers’ program.
The Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development — $150,000 toward the Justified Anger coalition, which seeks to end racial inequities in Dane County.
The Rainbow Project Inc. — $10,000 to help support the project’s work with young families.
The Road Home Dane County — $10,000 in support of its efforts to provide opportunities for homeless children and their families.
Token Creek Chamber Music Festival — $1,000 in general support of the annual music series.
United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Dane County — $10,000 in support of UCP’s programs to provide after-school activities for young people with disabilities.
University Avenue Discovery Center Preschool — $2,500 to help provide day care for low-income families.
Urban League of Greater Madison — $10,000 in general support of the Urban League’s many community and educational programs.
Vera Court Neighborhood Center — $2,500 toward programming for the affiliated Bridge Lake Point Waunona Neighborhood Center.
Verona Area Needs Network — $10,000 to help expand the group’s food pantry.
VSA Wisconsin — $2,000 for the organization’s arts and music program for people with disabilities.
Wisconsin Academy for Graduate Service Dogs — $2,000 to help cover the costs to train service dogs that will be placed in the Madison area.
Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts and Letters — $10,000 to support the academy’s high-quality publication, Wisconsin People and Ideas.
Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism — $20,000 in general support of the center, which produces investigative journalism and disseminates the results to the public through media partners.
Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra — $12,000 in general support of the annual Concerts on the Square.
Wisconsin Council on Children and Families — $25,000 to assist in the council’s ongoing efforts to identify and reduce racial inequities, including an expansion of that effort to include Dane County’s Hispanic communities.
Wisconsin Democracy Campaign — $20,000 in general support of the group’s work to compile information about political campaign finances.
Wisconsin Historical Foundation — $15,000 contribution to support the society’s high-quality Wisconsin History magazine.
Wisconsin Institute of Youth Journalism — $5,000 to support the summer internship program, which links interested minority students with the professional news media.
Women’s Medical Fund — $5,000 to help the fund’s work to provide health services to needy women.
Workers Rights Center — $5,000 toward the center’s project to investigate working conditions and other issues faced by Latino immigrants in the area.
YWCA Madison — $10,000 toward the organization’s YWebCA program, which provides job instruction in information technology geared toward women and people of color.

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