Linda Ahlers (BS Retailing 1972) is the retired president of Marshall Field’s, a division of Target Corporation. After the May Company purchased Target Corporation in 2005, Ahlers retired and has since been living in Honolulu, Hawaii. Ahlers serves on the School’s Retail Program Assessment Committee, which serves as a bridge between the industry and the academic program. Specifically, it is exploring what students need to know in order to succeed and identifying key elements of the best academic programs. She was motivated to contribute to the 100 Women Campaign through Dean Robin A. Douthitt’s passion for the School and a building tour. The facility is in need of investment, according to Ahlers. Ahlers encourages other alums to think about how they might get involved in today’s life of the School, whether that’s by talking to students about their experiences or supporting in a financial way. “Alums [can] pool their resources to make big things happen.”
Debra J. Alder
As an undergraduate, Debra “Deb” Alder (BS 1977 Home Economics Education) had no intention of joining - much less leading - her family’s dairy distributing business. But today she credits her education not only for launching her early career as a teacher, but ultimately for helping her move up the ranks to become president and CEO of Alder Companies.
“Many of the courses about families encouraged us to ask ‘what impact will your decision have on others?’” This message, she says, helped her appreciate the importance of investing in and valuing people – no small matter when overseeing a company with more than 100 employees. It is also what led Deb to join with others to endow the 100 Women Chair in Human Ecology.
For Deb, like her father and his before him, business has never been “just about the balance sheet.” Instead, she says, “the ultimate goal always lies in strengthening and maintaining relationships.” Deb raised three children with her husband Dr. Jeffery Scherer (BS 1974 L&S Zoology, MED 1979) and takes great satisfaction in community involvement, including the restoration of a historic main street building in downtown Delavan, Wisconsin, her hometown.
Helen Louise Allen
Helen Louise Allen (1902-1968) joined the School of Human Ecology’s Related Art program in 1927, teaching weaving, embroidery, and the history of textiles and interiors for over 40 years.
Born with a strong creative spirit, Helen devoted herself to the research and study of textiles from around the globe. She was among the first in her field to take an ethnographic approach to the study of textiles, traveling the world researching diverse techniques and meeting artisans to understand the cultural and historic significance of textiles. She published widely on the subject and acquired a vast textile collection, which she later bequeathed to the school. This gift, along with her papers and artwork, became the basis for the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection.
An innovative weaver in her own right, Helen co-founded the Madison Weavers Guild and the Embroiderers Guild with her friend and colleague, Ruth Ketterer Harris. Professor Allen was an inspiration to many. She made an indelible impression on her students who developed their own interests in the textile arts and who made gifts to the HLATC Adopt-a-Textile Endowment Fund in her honor.
Carol L. Anderson
Carol Anderson (BS 1965 Home Economics Education; MS 1969), a prominent scholar, educator, and leader, benefited from 4-H programs while growing up on a farm in southwest Wisconsin. Her career began as extension educator in Trempealeau County, WI and then at Iowa State University as extension specialist and assistant professor.
After completing her doctorate in 1976, Carol moved east to Cornell University, serving as assistant dean, College of Human Ecology, and associate director of Cooperative Extension. She served as President of the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences and editor for the Journal of Family & Consumer Sciences.
Carol manages the day-to-day operations of her farm in Cobb, WI. She remains active in her profession addressing global issues as president of the U.S. chapter of the International Federation for Home Economics. Carol notes, “One thing that is exciting about the field is that it brings specialties together to create something new.” Carol’s gift towards endowing the 100 Women Chair in Human Ecology also created something new and transformative.
After earning her bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University in 1939, Katherine Annin accepted an appointment to the Bureau of Home Economics in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She married in 1942 during World War II, but her husband was missing in action a year later. Following the war, Katherine accepted a position as regional home economist with the U.S. Rural Electrification Administration, with territory covering six states, and earned her master’s degree from The Ohio State University in 1954. In 1955, Katherine joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agriculture and Home Economics as a professor and UW-Extension home management specialist. “Kate was quite assertive and that helped her get things done,” colleague Jane Graff remembered. When she retired in 1968, following her marriage to Gerald Annin, her involvement in volunteer activities grew. She supported causes she believed in, crocheted gifts for friends and volunteered at organizations such as the Grace Episcopal Church Altar Guild. Graf noted, “She always got into things to help others.”
Cathy Gilford Atkins
Cathy Gilford Atkins (’79 BS, Early Childhood Education) has devoted her life to putting into practice the principles of early childhood development, working first as a classroom teacher and, after earning a master’s degree in education from National Louis University, Chicago, serving as an early childhood consultant and adjunct faculty at several Chicago area colleges. She is a recognized expert in child development theory and early childhood education, with expertise in curriculum development, parent education and staff development. Her experiences encompass more than three decades of wide-ranging and in-depth applications including classroom teaching, teacher training, consulting and co-directing a large early childhood program. Cathy has been trainer, coach and mentor to college students, first year teachers and veteran staff. She has helped first-time and experienced parents gain confidence in their parenting skills. Cathy and husband Dr. Edward M. Atkins (’75 BA, Political Science, ’80 MD) have resided in the Chicago area for more than 30 years. They are the proud parents of two children, Lisa and David. Recognizing the importance of teacher retention in Human Ecology’s Preschool, Cathy and Ed are the first to establish a teacher excellence fund to support professional development and opportunities for mentoring student interns.
Jane Hampton Ausman
Jane was born and raised in Lancaster, Grant County, Wisconsin. She received her BS in Home Economics and Education in 1959 and her MS in History in 1962. Her advisor in Home Economics was Julia Dalrymple. Her MS thesis, titled “The diet and problems of food supply of westward explorers and emigrants during 1800-1850”, brought together home economics fundamentals with her love of American history. She made a westward journey herself in 1962, along with her husband John, and spent much of the next 40 years in the San Francisco Bay Area raising a family. During this period she and her family also spent time living in Germany, England and Belgium. Jane and John are Bascom Hill Society members. They feel strongly about the value of supporting the University of Wisconsin.
As a dedicated mother, consummate community volunteer and successful entrepreneur, Susan Bakke can rightfully claim the title of "human ecologist." Her commitment to children and families led her to serve on the board of the Madison Children's Museum and on the trustee council of DAIS (Domestic Abuse Intervention Services). As the owner of Chauette, a women's clothing boutique in downtown Middleton, Wisconsin, Sue offers women a personalized shopping experience, giving fashionable options for every occassion. It is no wonder her passion for retailing and eye for great design led her to the School of Human Ecology, first as mentor and internship sponsor for retailing students and then as the first donor to the Global Artisans project, one of four inaugural efforts of the 4W Initiative (For Women, Well-Being, Wisconsin and the World). Her gift establishing the Susan Bakke Graduate Fellowship in Retail Entrepreneurship and Design represents a major investment in developing and empowering future entrepreneurs and designers while advancing scholarship in consumer behavior and design thinking.
Diane Endres Ballweg
Diane Endres Ballweg (‘85 BM L&S, Music Education) follows the axiom, “Live passionately and give generously.” True to this belief, Diane is an inspiration to many as mother, grandmother, educator, business executive, community leader, musician, aviator and philanthropist. While raising her three children she earned three degrees; one from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and two from Edgewood College. An advocate of lifelong learning, Diane secretly took flying lessons for two years, surprising family and friends when she became a licensed pilot. She has flown to six continents, navigated remote airstrips, and retraced the flight path of Japanese fighter pilots on their approach to Pearl Harbor. Her love of flying inspired her to establish and teach an aviation class at Edgewood High School. Not one to say “no” to community organizations, Diane has served on more than 30 boards, generously sharing her time and expertise, and inspiring others by her philanthropy. Her gift to the School of Human Ecology exemplifies her philanthropic leadership by making it possible to launch a new initiative examining the complex interdependency of human relationships and the role financial decisions have in life fulfillment and well-being.
Florence Fox Below
When Florence Fox Below (BA ’24) attended UW-Madison, plans for a Memorial Union were still on the drawing boards and the School’s tea room provided practical training in institutional management to Home Economics students. Florence Below treasured her years on campus and was “a good strong badger alum,” according to her daughter Bev Fetzer. “She met my father [Martin Paul Below] there, and my parents just loved Madison.” Fetzer designated a $100,000 gift to recognize her mother’s memory as part of the School’s 100 Women Campaign and support the School’s renovation and expansion. “She was a wonderful woman and very unselfish in her giving,” Fetzer said of her mother. “She gave to her family, community and church. She impacted my life so much and was just such an unselfish person. I’m fortunate to be able to honor her memory.” Fetzer called the 100 Women Campaign “a perfect fit” with her mother’s memory.
Geraldyn “Gerry” Belzer
Geraldyn “Gerry” Belzer (BS ’75, General Home Economics), moved to Torrance, California, with her husband, Burt Belzer following his graduation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (BBA ’49, Marketing). After raising three sons, Belzer completed her UW-Madison degree and later earned a Certificate of Horticulture at University of California – Los Angeles. Her creative interests encompassed interior design, textiles, landscape design, and gardening. Gerry Belzer served as a garden and landscape consultant at the Belzers’ company, TCI Precision Metals in Gardena, California. She also created pro bono landscape designs for friends as well as the Belzers’ Temple. Belzer was a founding member of the Torrance Chapter of the League of Women Voters and served in various roles in Torrance city government. At one time, the Belzer home served as a polling place for elections and Belzer was a poll watcher and participant in election activities.
Wendy L. Benveniste
Wendy Lawell Benveniste continues to work as a management consultant, following her 2010 retirement as vice president of operations with Genesis Microchip in San Francisco, California. Benveniste (BS ’73 Retailing) has enjoyed a stellar career, beginning as a buyer with Abraham & Strauss in New York City, moving to California’s wine industry and, finally, into West Coast semiconductor companies. Over the years, she and husband Irving Benveniste have retained close ties with UW-Madison, attending many football games, including several Rose Bowls. “Skills are universal in business. You can apply what you know anywhere,” she said. Benveniste also has learned during her career that people are the most important asset. This is the reason that Benveniste established her 100 Women gift as a charitable remainder annuity trust – the Wendy L. Benveniste Faculty Excellence Fund – to support the work of Human Ecology faculty members.
Mary Kunz Berge
Paul Berge, University of Wisconsin-Madison alumnus, has chosen to honor his wife, Mary Kunz Berge (B.S. Home Economics ’61), through the 100 Women Campaign. “This is a way to recognize Mary for her loyalty and dedication to the School of Human Ecology and her efforts on behalf of the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection,” he said. “She was a student of Helen Louise Allen and retained her notes from those classes. She takes great pride and is very appreciative of her education and always felt that it’s important to give back to the School and the university.” Mary is also a longtime member of the School’s Board of Visitors, Paul Berge noted. “She feels very strongly as the rest of the board does about the need for the expansion and new facilities,” he added. “The existing facilities are inadequate and it’s time for the School of Human Ecology to have new facilities. The financial support is a way for our family to recognize her and also assist in a small way in the completion of the building project.”
Mären Ann Berge
After a successful career as a competitive alpine ski racer, Mären (BA 1988 Economics) attended UW-Madison and was active in a variety of campus activities, proudly serving as president of Alpha Phi sorority. In Steamboat Springs, Colorado, her professional career has included various roles with the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Foundation, as well as being a certified race administrator for the United States Ski Association.
Paul Berge (BBA 1960 Finance) says it is fitting his daughter be recognized alongside her mother, Mary Kunz Berge (BS 1961 Home Economics), the first 100 Women honoree. Mären developed a passion for textiles when she worked closely with her mother during Mary’s many years as a fashion consultant for the Carlisle Collection of Fine Women's Apparel. Paul chose to honor their special connection with a gift to the Mary & Paul Berge Fund for the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection. Mären has joined her parents in their support of the Collection by making a deferred gift to this endowment.
JoAnn Bolender (BS '52 Home Economics Education) grew up on a primitive family farm near Lancaster, Wisconsin, where she earned fame as Prom Queen and Grant County's 1947 candidate for Wisconsin Dairy Queen. After graduating from a one room country school, JoAnn found her way to Madison to complete a degree in Home Economics Education and to be near the love of her life, John Bolender (BS '51 Engineering), whose passionate letters persuaded JoAnn to transfer from UW-Stout to UW-Madison. JoAnn's aspirations to teach took a detour when shortly after their marriage in 1952, she and John relocated to the Pacific Northwest so John could pursue an engineering career with Boeing. While raising their daughter and three sons, all college graduates, JoAnn served briefly as a Navy Officer's wife. Throughout her lifetime she was active in her church, a nearby childcare center and several other community organizations. Her talents were many and her positive, upbeat attitude was an inspiration to all. As a loving tribute of their 60 years of marriage, John participated in the Nicholas matching gift opportunity with a gift to Human Ecology's need-based scholarship endowment.
Marjorie Swanson Briskey
A lifelong educator, Marjorie Swanson Briskey (BS ’53, MS ’62) worked around the globe. After marriage to Ernest Briskey (BS ’52, PhD ’58), she worked in business and research in Denmark while Ernest continued research begun at UW-Madison. On their return to Madison, Marj taught nutrition at the School and supervised student teachers. The Briskeys later moved to Thailand, where Marj taught home economics and advised the International Human Assistance Project. In 1987 they headed to Kuwait, where she taught science, reading, and social studies. The couple returned to the United States in 1998. Gifts to the School include the Ernest J. and Marjorie S. Human Ecology Fund.
Nancy Meng Bruce
After graduation, Nancy Meng Bruce (BS’54 Early Childhood Development) taught at the preschool level for several years in Milwaukee. Later, she married Robert Bruce and the couple raised five children. Nancy actively volunteers in several affiliations that are related to her love of textiles. Nancy’s particular interest is antique American quilts, and several of the quilts she has given to the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection (HLATC) were featured in an exhibit held at the Chazen Museum. Bruce has made donations to support the digitization of the collection’s archival images, establish the Design Gallery in 1990, furnish the School’s first infant care teaching and research facility, and renovate the Dean’s office. Following the announcement of her 1990 Design Gallery gift, Human Ecology alumni around the country contacted her to express their delight. “It got others thinking about giving,” she said. Through her 100 Women gift, Nancy is particularly excited about the impact of new facilities – the gallery, HLATC and the preschool. “I am thankful to help in some way,” she said. “The students in the future will benefit.”
Nancy E. Chellevold
When Nancy E. Chellevold (BS '71 Family & Consumer Journalism) enrolled in an Ag Journalism course, a male dominated field, the male professor suggested meeting with Nellie McCannon, a professor in Human Ecology. Her "can do" attitude and fierce determination allowed Nancy to navigate a turbulent time on campus, which, on one occasion involved talking her way into taking a final exam in the midst of a campus riot. Having grown up in a small farming community near Spring Green, coming to Madison was a big step, but one three generations before her had made. Skills learned during an internship with the Wisconsin Vacation & Travel Bureau set the stage for marketing positions in other fields, including healthcare. When her husband's job took Nancy and their two children to South Africa, working as a substitute teacher taught her the importance of being inquisitive and fearless in asking questions. After losing her husband to cancer, Nancy earned a Master's degree in Medical Humanities and volunteered as a patient advocate, accompanying oncology patients to medical appointments. Cherishing her UW degree, Nancy's gift to Human Ecology's need-based scholarship endowment ensures future generations the opportunity of becoming life-long learners.
Bridget Brady Coffing
Bridget Coffing (BS 1976 Home Economics Journalism) spent 30 years with McDonald’s Corporation, most recently as Senior Vice President Worldwide Corporate Relations, Chief Communications Officer. A recipient of her industry’s top awards, she has been active in the Arthur Page Society, The Seminar, and the boards of the Public Relations Society of America, Chicago chapter, and the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations.
Bridget leveraged McDonald’s global brand to help address the needs of communities worldwide, through local sponsorships and philanthropic activities. “We all desire to have an impact on the broadest possible scale, while also understanding that the human spirit is very individual. These philosophies are not mutually exclusive.”
Bridget joined Human Ecology’s Board of Visitors in 2014. She is tremendously proud of the school’s mission to improve quality of life and enhance the well-being of people everywhere, believing that these values inspire organizations to give back and drive positive change. Her participation in the 100 Women Chair collaborative campaign echoes her belief that, “no one can go it alone.”
Brooke Goodman Cohen
When she heard about the 100 Women Campaign, Brooke Goodman Cohen’s (BS ’78, Textile and Apparel Design) wanted to be part of it. Cohen’s college years combined the best of several worlds. The experience meant “having the luxury of being at a Big 10 school, and the camaraderie of the school [with] being at a progressive school like Madison and still being in my own backyard,” said Cohen, who is from Milwaukee. The School provided Cohen with real-life skills in and outside of the classroom. She used those life lessons to pursue a multifaceted career before marrying and choosing motherhood. Following her degree, Cohen worked for a time in sales at Neiman-Marcus in Dallas but decided sales wasn’t for her and signed on as a flight attendant for American Airlines, based in New York. From there, she eventually went to a job on Wall Street and her last job was in advertising. Along the way, she got her pilot’s license, married Peter Cohen, and had a daughter. Cohen serves on several boards, including that of her co-op building and is involved in the Delta Society, which works to improve human health through service dogs and therapy animals.
Leola R. Culver
Leola R. Culver, proud mother of three daughters, developed her notable community presence as co-founder of the Culver Franchising Systems, Inc. and Culver's Foundation. With firsthand knowledge of the hard work and dedication required to make every guest happy, Leola extended her influence and leadership to empowering others, working to foster responsibility, leadership, teamwork and growth through education as executive director of the Culver's Foundation. Beyond her commitment to expanding the family business, Leola applied her many skills, leadership abilities and compassionate heart to helping organizations make a difference in their community, including the Sauk Prairie Hospital, the River Arts Center and Gio's Garden, a nonprofit group dedicated to providing respite care for special needs children. The giving circle she helped to establish empowered women in the Sauk Prairie area to embrace the power of philanthropy and to witness its impact. Always a "human ecologist" at heart, Leola discovered a mutual interest in the School of Human Ecology's mission to think creatively, solve professionally and act compassionately. Her gift establishing the Leola Culver Graduate Fellowship in Early Childhood Development ensures a lasting legacy of scholarship dedicated to the well-being of children and their families.
Ruth Danielson Davis
During her 32-year career in the Related Art Department, Ruth Davis developed the artistic talents of thousands of students, served as a mentor for many new faculty, and exhibited her artwork around the world. Davis earned a BS (1931) and MS (1940) in Art Education from the University of Wisconsin. Between these degrees she taught art in a Fond du Lac junior high school and then at Madison East High School. In 1943, Davis was appointed to the Related Art Department, where she taught an introductory course, “Fundamentals of Design,” for which she authored a textbook, A Review of Design Fundamentals. Davis also taught “3-D Design,” “History of American Interiors,” and the laboratory portion of Helen Louise Allen’s course on decorative textiles. Influenced by Allen, Davis traveled extensively to conduct research for her class presentations. In addition to her teaching, Davis participated in numerous competitive art shows around the country and world. She developed an original technique of applying watercolors, synthetic dyes, and inks directly to large textile panels. Along with numerous solo shows, her painted textiles were included in the Objects U.S.A. touring exhibition sponsored by Johnson and Sons to highlight contemporary crafts, and featuring a reception at the Smithsonian Institution, on both its American tour (1969-72) and European tour (1972-74). Closer to home, Davis’s textiles and watercolor paintings were displayed around Madison in local juried exhibitions and as commissioned works in public places. Following her retirement, Davis earned an MFA from UW in 1976, after which she retired to California.
Ann Schottenstein Deshe
Thanks to a life friendship, Ann Schottenstein Deshe (BS ’78) joined the 100 Women campaign. When Brooke Goodman Cohen (BS ’78) said, “I would love for the two of us to be on the wall together,” Ann Deshe agreed. After graduation, Deshe moved to New York where she worked in retailing and met her husband. Soon, the couple moved to her hometown of Columbus, Ohio, where their four children were born and the Schottensteins had built a nationally recognized retail enterprise. Made through the Ann and Ari Deshe Foundation, which supports health, Jewish organizations, children and youth services, her 100 Women gift established the Ann Schottenstein Deshe Fund for Human Ecology.
Linda S. Dicks
Linda Dicks (MS 1985 Accounting) served as the School of Human Ecology’s associate dean of administration and chief financial officer for 14 years until her retirement in 2013. Under the leadership of Dean Robin Douthitt, Linda’s service set the stage for the campaign to build Nancy Nicholas Hall. “It was my good fortune to be part of her administration as she secured the future of the school.”
Before joining SoHE, Linda worked in UW-Madison’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration. She is a certified public accountant and served twice on the board of the Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants, including as president.
Initially appointed to a committee for SoHE’s Preschool Lab, Linda later provided direct administrative oversight of the lab – a responsibility she cherished. “It became my passion as I learned about early childhood education and this nationally recognized program.” A strong advocate for and friend of the school, Linda’s leadership gift fittingly launched the 100 Women Chair in Human Ecology collaborative campaign.
Julia M. Diermeier
Julia M. Diermeier believes interventions based on research are the best hope for stopping human trafficking and restoring the lives of those victimized by this social travesty. Having first witnessed the sexual exploitation of women and children while traveling in Southeast Asia and then becoming aware of the alarming number of victims globally and even near her local communities in Florida and Illinois, she made the decision to support local to global programs addressing gender-based violence. Inspired by the work of UW-Madison faculty, Julia along with her husband, Jeffrey J. Diermeier (BBA ’74, MBA ’75 Finance, Investment & Banking), established the Julia Diermeier Social Transformations Fund as the first champions of STREETS (Social Transformations to End Exploitation and Trafficking for Sex), a coordinated campus project with a local and global perspective. Their investment also was one of the first for the campus-wide 4W Initiative (For Women and Well-Being in Wisconsin and the World)
, with its stated vision of making the lives of women better so as to make the world better for all.
Robin A. Douthitt
Robin A. Douthitt, Dean Emerita of the School of Human Ecology, completed her PhD in Microeconomics at Cornell University and came to the University of Wisconsin-Madison as a Consumer Science professor in 1986. She founded the UW-Madison Women’s Faculty Mentoring Program and served on the University of Wisconsin Athletic Board, where she represented Wisconsin faculty to the Big Ten. She was named Vaughan Bascom Professor, the highest honor a UW-Madison faculty member can receive. And, in 2000, she received the Cabinet 99 Faculty/Staff Recognition Award from the Wisconsin Alumni Association. Named Dean of the School of Human Ecology in 2000, Douthitt managed four departments, including Consumer Science, led five research centers, and directed a $14-million (2010 – 2011) operating budget. Dean Douthitt led the $52.6 million capital project to greatly expand and renovate the School’s main building – to create a technology-rich environment; promote interactions among faculty, students, and staff with gathering spaces such as study commons, wireless study alcoves, and a café; enhance the visibility of the School’s unique assets, including the Design Gallery and Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection; and provide a safe drop-off area and parking to support the Preschool’s educational, research, and outreach programs. The School broke ground on the project in April 2010, and moved into the new facility May 2012.
Gracia McKenzie Drew
After participating in many joint gifts with her husband, Gracia Drew chose to make a gift to the 100 Woman Campaign in her name alone. She and husband Wally Drew, a longtime member of the University of Wisconsin Foundation board of directors, have together supported many organizations, but this gift was for Gracia. Following graduation, Drew (BS ’57, General Home Economics) worked for two years in the dietician’s office at Evanston Hospital, in Illinois, before marrying Wally, also a UW-Madison alum. After a time, the Drews moved to Shaker Heights, Ohio, and then Winnetka, Illinois. Along the way, they had two children, a boy and a girl. The family moved to Menasha in 1974. Wherever they lived, Gracia Drew continued to volunteer for local organizations. In Menasha, she lent her time and expertise to the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum, which displays a world-renowned collection of paperweights, glass collections and changing exhibitions of other art. She also was involved in the creation of the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, Inc., which launched in 1986 and now provides grants to over 500 nonprofit organizations annually. The Drews now divide their time between Menasha and Amelia Island, Florida.
Grace Rowntree Duffee
Through an estate gift, Elizabeth “Betty” Davies (BS ’38) recognized her mentor, Grace Rowntree Duffee (BS ’29) as a 100 Women honoree. Duffee taught at the Mary Institute in St. Louis and worked as a county 4-H leader in Spooner, Superior, and Wisconsin Rapids. She returned to Madison in 1935 to become assistant state 4-H Club leader then, in 1942, assistant state leader for Home Economics Extension. Duffee left this position at age 45 to commit her talents to a variety of causes, Madison-area organizations, and community activities.
Sally A. Manley Ebenreiter
After majoring in General Home Economics and earning her B.S. from the School in 1952, Sally Manley taught in Highland Park, Illinois, at one of only three U.S. high schools in which the girls took a semester class that included hands-on learning in a nursery. “They spent two weeks observing, two weeks assisting, and two weeks student teaching,” she said. In 1953, she married Thomas Ebenreiter and began a long career as a homemaker and community volunteer. Ebenreiter’s 100 Women gift supports the Preschool Research Laboratory, an important resource for the children it nurtures. “The world is so fast today that children need to be exposed to other things than what they experience at home,” she said. Ebenreiter has strong memories of her undergraduate advisor, Helen Dawe, a professor and longtime director of the Preschool Laboratory. Dawe oversaw construction of the current Preschool building in 1957-1958 and served as the first director of the state’s Head Start Regional Training Program. She also helped establish standards and licensing procedures for nursery schools. Sally and Tom Ebenreiter continued to come to UW-Madison football games and in town for the UW Homecoming one year, toured the School of Human Ecology. They noted the architectural rendering of the new facilities. “We decided that would be a project for us,” Ebenreiter said. “We’ve always been … grateful to the university for our education.”
Lydia Childs Eskridge
After earning a University of Wisconsin-Madison zoology degree in 1930, Lydia Childs Eskridge (1907 – 2008) studied at Johns Hopkins University and then worked as a parasitologist at a New York City institute and later with a public environmental agency. As a hostess for the Holland-American cruise line, Eskridge often traveled to Europe, where she collected varied textiles. Thanks to the generosity of her daughter, Lydia Black, many of these were given to the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection. Black also facilitated a gift to fund a curatorial internship and the collection’s newsletter. The Lydia Childs Eskridge Foundation established the Lydia Childs Eskridge Fund in 2012, an endowment to support textile scholarship and promote the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection as a preeminent repository for historic textiles.
Susan Nicholas Fasciano
Susan Nicholas Fasciano (‘80 BS, Education) received a Christmas surprise from her parents, Nancy Johnson Nicholas (‘55 BS, Home Economics) and Albert “Ab” Nicholas (‘52 BS, Economics, ’55 MBA) when she opened a gift announcing her recognition as a 100 Women honoree. It is a gift celebrating Susan’s devotion to children and her commitment to fostering their love of learning. After graduating from UW-Madison, Susan taught 5th and 6th graders at Pleasant Hill Elementary School in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and then 7th and 8th grade math at Shorewood Intermediate School in Shorewood, Wisconsin. As the proud mother of two sons, Nicholas F. Fasciano (’11 BS, Economics & Philosophy) and Alexander O. Fasciano (Personal Finance Class of 2015), Susan volunteered as a room mother and led enrichment programs at her children’s school. She encouraged her sons’ participation in soccer, baseball, lacrosse and hockey; serving on the high school hockey board for eight years. Her passion for education is exemplified by a long-standing commitment to the UW as a donor to the School of Education, the School of Veterinary Medicine and the Parents Enrichment Fund, which benefits university libraries. The 100 Women gift made in her honor supported new initiatives in graduate education.
Beverly Below Fetzer
After Bev and Wade Fetzer made a 100 Women gift to honor Bev’s mother, Florence Fox Below (BA ’24), they decided to make a second, 100 Women Campaign gift – this time in Bev’s honor. This remarkably generous, second 100 Women gift acknowledged her extraordinary commitment to the School’s mission to improve the quality of human life. It also created the Fetzer Learning Center in the School’s new facilities, where students will find a place to study, work online, and meet with advisers, as well as obtain the additional resources they need to succeed academically.
Helen Zepp Flexman
Helen Zepp Flexman (BA ’27, L&S) joined the roster of 100 Women through an estate gift. After graduation she embarked on a long career as an insurance agent with the Equitable Insurance Company, first as an agent with the Reno Agency in Chicago and then starting her own agency. Flexman was among the first women to achieve certification as a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU). She actively participated in local professional organizations and was the founding member of the Chicago Association of Women CLU’s. Her interest in insurance was based on a desire to help people achieve financial security and to minimize the financial impact of unexpected life events. She valued her personal relationships with other women in business and through these friendships, encouraged both personal and corporate philanthropy.
Karen P. Goebel
Karen Goebel, PhD, professor emeritus and UW-Extension specialist in Human Ecology’s Consumer Science Department, focused her research, teaching, and outreach projects on estate planning, marital property law, privacy issues, public policy reform, and aspects of elder exploitation. Her interest in family resource management was motivated by one simple goal: to protect and strengthen the family unit. “That’s what makes our whole profession unique. It’s always been centered on families and not just on the individual.”
Karen’s dedicated leadership and mentoring of students and young professionals in their participation in state and national organizations, primarily as advisor of the Phi Epsilon Omicron Honor Society, earned her numerous awards of distinction. She received recognition from Phi U, the Wisconsin Home Economics Association, the American Council on Consumer Interests, and the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences. She also received both the Outreach Award and the Outstanding Faculty Award from the School of Human Ecology plus outstanding alumni awards from three other universities – Purdue, Ball State and Michigan State. In addition, she received the Excellence in Teaching Award from UW-Extension. Karen’s exemplary leadership extends to her participation in endowing the historic 100 Women Chair in Human Ecology.
Sylvia Thompson Graf
Sylvia Thompson Graf (BS ’49 Textiles, MS ’74 Continuing and Vocational Education) is “a wonderful person who has put others first throughout her life… and is an all-around superb human being,” said husband Truman Graf. The couple has made a deferred gift in Sylvia’s name that honors her 22-year career at Madison Area Technical College, establishing an endowment to support design program areas. It pays homage not only to her important role of raising three children, but also to her extensive professional and community leadership. Graf served on the Market Development Council of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, in addition to volunteering in leadership positions with nine other associations. Wherever she goes, Graf lives the mission of the School of Human Ecology: reaching out to improve the quality of human life.
Jane Graff’s 100 Woman Campaign gift established a research assistantship for the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection. Graff was a longtime member of the collection’s Fundraising Committee. She traced her love of decorative textiles to her mother, Irma Camp Graff, who studied design in New York City and enjoyed a long friendship with designer Mariska Karasz. The Hungarian immigrant became a noted fashion designer and then switched to creating abstract wall hangings after World War II. The designer’s fashions combined folk elements from her native country with modern American styles, and one of Jane Graff’s treasured items is a Karasz-designed, embroidered jacket from her mother. After graduation in applied art from Iowa State College, Jane Graff worked in the interior design bureau of the Armstrong Cork Company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In 1956, she completed a master’s degree in art at the University of California, Los Angeles and afterwards worked as an instructor and extension specialist in Home Furnishings at Michigan State University. In 1959 Jane Graff moved to Madison and for the next 32 years served as a faculty member and provided program support to county extension faculty. She employed newsletters, fact sheets, radio, television and other media in efforts to reach a variety of audiences throughout the state. She designed and photographed scale models to illustrate design concepts, wrote extension publications like “Working with Color” and “Adapting Interiors and Furnishings for the Disabled,” and created a videotape, “Adapting Your Home: Meeting Your Needs in Later Years.” In the 1970s, she developed resources on historic quilts, designed textiles, and taught textile design and printing at workshops for 4-H leaders. Textiles and paintings are equal treasures, “if you have any interest in design history, color and pattern,” Jane Graff once observed. “There are some gorgeous things in the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection from many centuries, countries and ethnic groups.” Thanks to her gift, the long-term care of these treasures can be enhanced through the work of a research assistant.
One doesn’t need a degree from the School of Human Ecology to rightfully claim the title of “human ecologist.” Teresa Hallada, loving wife of Tony Hallada (BS 1989 Consumer Science), and devoted mother to Mason and Hannah, earned this title by being the person her family and friends turn to whenever they need help. Known for her compassion and “big heart,” Teresa has always worked to make life better for others.
The first in her family to go to college, Teresa completed an undergraduate degree from Valparaiso University and a Master’s degree in speech pathology from UW-River Falls. Prior to marriage, she worked with cognitively challenged children and adults, patiently helping them recover or improve their ability to speak.
The collaborative 100 Women Chair in Human Ecology provided Tony an opportunity to honor Teresa in a special way, a tribute to the blessing she’s been in his life and to link her legacy of helping others with the School’s mission of improving the quality of life for children, families and communities.
Camille Anthony Haney
CAMILLE ANTHONY HANEY, (’69 BS, Retailing) credits the School of Human Ecology with providing her a solid background for an extensive consumer-focused career; beginning in the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection and then through her own public affairs firm serving Fortune 500 clients. She served on the White House Consumer Advisory Council, the Council of Better Business Bureaus, and as a delegate to two White House conferences; one on Small Businesses and the second focusing on aging. She also was elected president of the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals in Business. Her membership on corporate boards forced her to “lean in” to learn more about retailing, banking and insurance. She later served as Special Assistant to Tommy Thompson, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, working on issues pertaining to women’s health. Always a loyal Badger and a passionate advocate of the university and Human Ecology, Camille was a founding member of the School’s Board of Visitors. She was recognized with an Outstanding Alumni Award. In addition to her service to Human Ecology, she also served on the Wisconsin Alumni Association Board. Camille’s annual leadership gifts and her 100 Women bequest support areas of “greatest need”.
Ruth Ketterer Harris
Ruth Ketterer Harris (BS 1931, MS 1932 Home Economics Education) was a weaver and scholar with a passion for the study and creation of textiles. After serving as the Wisconsin Historical Society’s museum curator (1943-1945), Ruth returned to UW-Madison where she taught weaving and accompanied her mentor and colleague Helen Louise Allen on research trips. Together, they were founders of the Madison Weaver’s Guild and the Wisconsin Designer Craftsmen Society. In 1968, Ruth became the first curator for the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection.
Throughout her lifetime, Ruth researched textiles, guided others in their investigations and encouraged others to weave their stories into cloth. In 1990, to honor his late wife, Ruth’s husband Wilfred J. Harris provided a gift to establish a library in her name. The rare and treasured volumes that comprise the Ruth Ketterer Harris Library support the research and teaching of the collection’s staff, design students and scholars from across the university. Ruth was a mentor and inspiration to many, including Kathleen “Katie” Sweeney, who established the annual Ruth Ketterer Harris Memorial Lectureship in her honor.
Bobette F. Heller
Inspired by her parents, Wilson and Genevieve Fisher, Bobette Heller (BS 1968 Home Economics Education; MS 1969 Related Arts) followed in their footsteps to become a Badger, the first of eight siblings to attend college. After completing her UW degrees, and following two years teaching in Madison Public Schools, Bobette interrupted her career to raise two children, Natasha and Troy, volunteering as a teacher’s aide in the elementary school they attended.
Resuming her career, Bobette coordinated Human Ecology’s internship program for 14 years. In 1999 she joined the University of Wisconsin Foundation as director of development for the School of Human Ecology. Over the next 13 years she assisted Dean Robin A. Douthitt in raising funds for the renovation and expansion of the School’s historic building.
With the appointment of Dean Soyeon Shim in 2012, Bobette continued working as senior development director, guiding a comprehensive campaign to increase endowments. Inspired by the generous alumni she was privileged to meet, Bobette, along with her husband Lynn, joined other donors in the collaborative campaign to endow the 100 Women Chair in Human Ecology.
Roxy Heyse has given her leadership expertise to assist many organizations in addition to the work she has contributed to the School’s Board of Visitors. She has served as president of numerous organizations in the Milwaukee and Mequon areas. She has held leadership positions within the United Way and co-chaired development drives for the United Performing Arts Fund and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Annual Fund. As a representative of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra League, she served on two national boards as vice president of the American Symphony Orchestra League Volunteer Council and public relations chair of the Association for Major Symphony Orchestras. Roxy Heyse believes that the purpose of volunteering is to improve the quality of life for all ages in health, education, music, art and the environment. Roxy and her husband “Bud” supported the Children’s Porch of the Frank. L. Weyenberg Library in Mequon, and they have given scholarships and a professorship to the UW-Madison Journalism School, as well as scholarships to the School of Human Ecology.
Rhoda Koch Hildebrandt
Following her brother Norman and cousin Margaret Meyer, Rhoda Koch Hildebrandt graduated from UW-Madison in the mid-1920s. As a student, she was active with the Calvary Lutheran Church and the Dolphin Club, as well as the women’s varsity swimming team. After graduation, Rhoda Koch married Harold C. Hildebrandt, a nationally ranked swimmer, who later taught all three of their daughters to swim and sail outside their home on Pewaukee Lake. She remained active with the local athletic club, the hiking and sports club, her church, and the ladies aide society. She also served on the board of the Lutheran Home in Milwaukee.
Su Hilty (BS '69 Retailing) knew from an early age retailing was her passion. She loved the dynamic nature of the industry, welcoming the challenge of keeping up with trends and consumer preferences. An internship with Abraham & Strauss in New York City prior to her senior year clinched her decision to make the "Big Apple" home. Her career of over 40 years involved working for retail industry giants -- Bloomingdale's, Gucci and Liz Claiborne among others, where she developed her sales and marketing skills. Transitioning to vice president of marketing for wholesale marts specializing in gift and home products, she established a new professional focus that continued until her retirement in 2011. Her passion, enthusiasm and expertise spilled over to her personal life, serving on five Boards and volunteering for causes for those less fortunate. Always a loyal Badger, Su actively advocated on behalf of the University and mentored alumni seeking opportunities in NYC. As a member of the Board of Visitors and comprehensive campaign committee, Su's estate gift was inspired by her desire to give back and to create a legacy that will live on, supporting and inspiring others.
Jane Davies Holloway
Helping people and treating everyone with respect and compassion is the legacy Jane Davies Holloway (BS ’45 Home Economics Education) gave her family and all those whose lives she touched as a homemaker, county home economics extension agent, teacher, 4-H leader and community volunteer. As the sixth of seven children Jane learned the importance of family from grandparents, aunts and uncles. Keeping family at the heart of everything she did, Jane set an example for her four children, nurturing their talents while continuing to use her expertise in interior design and home furnishings as an instructor at the Gateway Technical College in Kenosha. Jane and her sister, Elizabeth C. Davies (BS ’38 Home Economics Education), proudly called themselves home economists. Their dedication to children and the well-being of Wisconsin families inspired Elizabeth Holloway Schar (BS ’75 Home Economics Journalism) and her husband, Mark Schar, to establish the Elizabeth C. Davies Chair in Child & Family Well-Being and to confer on Jane the 100 Women recognition she so richly deserved.
Phyllis Rasmusson Huffman
A true Renaissance woman, Phyllis Rasmusson Huffman (BS ’48) thrived in her roles as a writer, homemaker, and arts and education leader. After her marriage to William Huffman (BS ’50), the couple moved to Wisconsin Rapids, where Bill’s family owned the local media (a daily newspaper and radio stations) and they began their family. Phyllis passed on an appreciation for the Wisconsin Idea to their four children, all of whom graduated from the UW-Madison. She was one of the first women on the University of Wisconsin Foundation Board of Directors. Her 100 Women gift established the Phyllis Rasmusson Huffman Fresh Ideas Fund to support programs that encourage student innovation.
Lee McGann Kelly
A graduate of Human Ecology’s Preschool, Lee McGann Kelly (BS 1977 Child Development) can claim a lifetime of education at the School. A dedicated mother, Lee completed her degree after the last of her five children entered kindergarten. Over the next seven years she attended classes, ultimately graduating with honors and fulfilling a promise made to her father.
As a returning adult student, Lee was an inspiring example to her children. “My kids knew I was studying and knew it was important. I wanted to show them that an education is worthwhile.” While a student, Lee completed an internship at UW Hospital, working in the nursery and classroom for school aged children. Guided by her compassion for children, she even provided bedside instruction. Lee continued volunteering at the hospital after completing her degree.
Along with her husband John “Jack” Kelly (BS 1955) Lee is delighted their gift to the 100 Women Chair in Human Ecology will support the school’s important initiatives, including those impacting children and families.
Signy Haaland Koeble
Signy Haaland Koeble (BS 1954 Child Development) devoted her life to nurturing children. After teaching kindergarten for two years in Cudahy, Wisconsin, “she was then quite adamant about being a stay-at-home mom,” remembers her husband Charles (BBA 1953 Business), whom she met while on campus. “She thought it was very important to be a homemaker and to create a foundation for our children.”
Later, Signy returned to teaching in Milwaukee Public Schools as a long-term substitute kindergarten teacher and in Head Start. As a volunteer, she helped hospitalized children with school work. Signy’s commitment to young children resonates throughout her family, inspiring a niece to major in early childhood education. Two granddaughters pursued degrees in Human Ecology. Charles chose to honor his late wife through the 100 Women Chair in Human Ecology as a tribute to Signy’s devotion to children and the inspiration she provided to her family and community.
C. Marie Burns Kraemer
Marie Burns Kraemer, the granddaughter of first-generation immigrants, was a shining example of the Greatest Generation. She is remembered for her ever-present smile, cheerful disposition, tireless work ethic, and common-sense values.
In 1942, she worked for Commonwealth Telephone Co. in Madison and met Edwin Kraemer. After World War II, they moved to Spring Green and began a family that would ultimately grow to six children, 11 grandchildren, and many great-grandchildren. While Edwin, a former German POW, worked around the state for Kraemer Bros. Construction, Marie raised their children and managed the family’s 10,000-bird chicken farm. She later worked as a nurse’s assistant for more than 13 years at Greenway Manor Nursing Home.
Ann Neviaser (MS 1985 Consumer Science), herself a 100 Women honoree, made a gift to the 100 Women Chair in Human Ecology to honor her late mother, saying, “Mother proved that a life of hard work grounded in Christian values could produce an exemplary life.”
Frances Mecklenburger Lehman attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison before graduating from Northwestern University in 1940 as a Phi Beta Kappa economics major and earning an MBA in 1941 from New York University. While at Wisconsin, she met her future husband, Elliot Lehman. They settled in Highland Park, Illinois, where she was active in community affairs serving on both the school board and the hospital board and the Highland Park League of Women’s Voters. A pioneer in philanthropy, she has served for more than thirty years as President of New Prospect Foundation, which has provided generous support to innovative programs in community organizing, civil rights and progressive advocacy.
Dorothy Barvin Levy
Dorothy Barvin Levy (1923 – 2002), a long time Madison resident, grew up in Dubuque, Iowa. She was an English major at the University of Iowa when she met her husband, Irving, who eventually led one of Wisconsin’s largest and oldest beverage distributing companies.
She was a loving wife, mother and mentor who took pride in creating a home that allowed her sons, Philip, Marvin and Jeff to flourish. She herself was a skilled writer, baker, golfer and gardener. She was especially proud of her homes in Madison and Rancho Mirage, California. Dorothy proudly supported many local and national charities through the efforts of the Irving and Dorothy Levy Family Foundation that was initiated in 1958.
She was an active member of Hadassah, Nakoma Golf Club, Olbrich Botanical Gardens, and the UW Bascom Hill Society. She also created wonderful handcrafted pottery. She would be honored to have her legacy linked to the work of faculty holding the 100 Women Chair in Human Ecology.
Mora Himel Lincoln
It could be said that Mora Himel Lincoln (BS 1943 Related Art) earned a Master’s of Finance degree at the kitchen table. She studied the stock market, researched companies to thoroughly understand their business practices, and astutely timed her investments to rival the most successful stock brokers. Along with her husband, Garrison (BPH 1929 Zoology, MPH 1932 Sociology), they designed and built their home overlooking Lake Monona. True to her Related Art background, Mora nourished her artistic talents by continually experimenting with textile techniques and materials. She remained an eager student long after completing her degree, taking weaving and embroidery classes taught by Professor Helen Allen. In her later years, Mora was a generous benefactor of the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection. She supported the digital image database project and made one of the first “adoptions” to the Adopt-a-Textile endowment fund. An advocate of equal opportunities for women, her bequest to the School established the Mora Himel Lincoln Fund, an endowment to support women pursuing graduate degrees in Human Ecology.
Laura L. Linden
Nancy Johnson Nicholas (BS ’55, General Home Economics) provided the gift that honored her aunt, Laura Linden (BA ’28, L&S; MA ’29, L&S) and added her to the 100 Women roster. After Linden retired from teaching high school in Indiana, she returned to her hometown of Madison. She lived for many years on Langdon Street, volunteered at the Madison Public Library and audited classes at UW-Madison. Linden supported many organizations including medical and health programs, environmental initiatives, the UW Marching Band and the Badger women’s basketball team. Nancy Nicholas has followed the example of her aunt’s generosity, giving not only this 100 Women gift, but also the $8 million lead gift that kicked off the School’s building campaign in 2004.
Dorothy Hodgkiss Luening
Dorothy “Dottie” Luening (MS ’64, Home Economics Cooperative Extension) once traveled the state in all weather to talk about estate planning at Homemaker Club meetings and discuss budgeting with farm families across their kitchen table. She developed lesson plans for county agents and wrote UW-Extension bulletins on such topics as “Family Estate Planning,” “Our Family Records,” and “Problems Facing Consumers.” Luening began her career as a home economics agent in Racine County, where she did a twice weekly radio show on WRJN and published regularly in the Racine Journal-Times and Burlington Standard Press. Her column in the Burlington paper, “Dits from Dot,” provided a variety of information to homemakers. In recognition of her expertise and communications success, Luening was promoted to district leader. She then moved to Madison in the early 1960s to work in the state extension office and pursue her master’s degree. In Madison, Luening and her husband Robert, former UW-Extension farm management specialist, both worked with another 100 Woman honoree, Consumer Science Professor Louise Young, and the three became friends, along with another honoree, Jane Graf. Luening was also involved in various community activities and volunteered in the Microfilm Reading Room of the State Historical Society Library.
Jean N. Manchester
Jean N. Manchester completed one of the first 100 Women Campaign gifts – not to ensure her own recognition, though she will receive a lasting honor, but because she believes in the work of Human Ecology. “This is my school. It gave me much when I was in college and I want to support it,” she said. She also aims “to stimulate giving and to publicize that there is this opportunity to give.” Jean encouraged alumni to give to projects they believe in. “Women need to give to reflect their values and to ensure that these values continue.” If they are married, “their husbands must also realize this.”
Abby L. Marlatt
Known for her stern demeanor, Abby L. Marlatt steadfastly championed opportunities for women throughout her thirty year tenure as director of the Department of Home Economics within the College of Agriculture. Marlatt directed the expansion of the curriculum from a single major in 1909 to nine majors by 1932, seven years prior to her retirement. As enrollment grew, Marlatt negotiated moving the Department of Home Economics into a specially constructed building at 1300 Linden Drive. She was adamant about giving students the opportunity to apply what they were learning in the classroom to real world situations. In 1926, the Dorothy Roberts Nursery School was founded and Marlatt was instrumental in facilitating observational and applied research opportunities for students majoring in early childhood development. Contrary to her austere reputation, she was known by faculty and students for her "soft heart," which involved personally supplementing the Omicron Nu scholarship fund and paying medical bills for students in crisis. Many years later a grateful student established an undergraduate scholarship fund in Abby Marlatt's honor. A 2016 deferred gift from donors preferring to remain anonymous provided the opportunity to recognize Abby Marlatt as a 100 Women honoree.
Nellie Rose McCannon
A journalism pioneer, Nellie McCannon earned her master’s in agricultural journalism from the UW-Madison, where she later taught. McCannon headed the home economics journalism major, led the home economics news service, and taught news and feature writing. McCannon was president of the Wisconsin Home Economics Association and on the board of the American Home Economics Association, for which she started a communications section and served as its first chair. McCannon initiated an annual workshop for Wisconsin women editors and reporters, and served as president of the Madison chapter of Women in Communications. Her work with international graduate students led McCannon to a project with Mexican home agents, an assignment in Indonesia, and several trips around the world.
Lynn Kraemer Mecklenburg
Lynn Mecklenburg considers her 100 Women gift as “a tribute to the many women who have been inspirational to me … Each of them has traveled a different path in life, but all of them are linked by commitments to their families and volunteerism. Some of them had professional careers and some, not; but all are remarkable in their approach to life and personal relationships.” Lynn and Gary Mecklenburg live in suburban Chicago, but their Wisconsin roots are strong. Lynn enrolled in the School of Home Economics as a UW freshman in 1965. She later transferred to the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, earning her bachelor’s degree in 1969. When she considered graduate school, she returned to Human Ecology, earning a masters of science degree in Family and Consumer Journalism in 1975. After receiving her BA, her first job was at University Hospitals. There she met Gary Mecklenburg, an administrator at the Hospitals, and they married and had two children. Lynn worked in communications at the Wisconsin Union Theater until they left Madison in 1977. She worked in the arts program at Stanford University, and when she and Gary moved to Milwaukee, for the Artist Series at the Pabst Theater. Thanks to courses in Related Art, Lynn developed an awareness of the art in her surroundings. She became an avid hand quilter and a gardener. “When I quilt, I feel connected with generations of women who spent their time alone and with others creating beautiful and most often, functional, pieces of art.” Lynn has also supported the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection for many years
Elizabeth Metz (MS ’35, General Home Economics) earned her undergraduate degree from Ohio State University in 1925. She taught school in Ohio before moving to Wisconsin to begin her graduate education. After earning her master’s degree, she taught high school in Waterloo and Clinton, then taught from 1942 to 1944 at the Two Rivers Vocational School, before accepting a position with the Marinette Vocational School, where she taught from 1944 to 1966. She later worked as a coordinator at the Marinette Technical Institute. Following her retirement, Metz was an active volunteer, especially supporting literacy efforts. She volunteered with the federal program, Goal Oriented Adult Learning (GOAL) at the Marinette branch of the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. “I have the education and thought, if there’s something I can do in the community that’s valuable, I might as well do it,” she told a Green Bay Press-Gazette reporter. “My parents were college graduates of the 1880s and ’90s,” continued Metz, who was born in Indiana and grew up in Ohio. “They saw that when I graduated from high school, I better keep going.” She noted that it was sad when adults had not learned basic skills. “I enjoy meeting people and watching their progress.” In her estate, Metz left $490,00 to the School. A portion of her gift supported a facilities master planning project, which led to the renovation and expansion of the Human Building.
Tashia Morgridge (BSE 1955 Education) exemplifies the spirit of a human ecologist, committed to improving the quality of people’s lives and the values of leadership and service. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from UW-Madison and her master’s degree from Lesley University in Massachusetts, Tashia devoted her career to special education at the elementary school level. Her volunteerism, philanthropy, and board service have focused on children and young adults. She has been an active supporter of early literacy programs, youth civic engagement, and access to higher education for young scholars.
Along with her husband John (BBA 1955), the Morgridges have generously supported students, faculty, research, and initiatives across UW-Madison. In 2014 Tashia and John announced an extraordinary matching gift to inspire increased support for endowed chairs and professorships at the university. School of Human Ecology alumni and friends enthusiastically took up this matching challenge, partnering with Tashia and John to create ten new endowed faculty positions. In recognition of Tashia and John’s transformational impact on the School of Human Ecology, the SoHE community is honored to recognize Tashia as a 100 Women honoree.
Sally Murphy Morris
Manitowoc native, Sally Murphy Morris (BS 1961 Textiles & Clothing), followed a long line of family members who graduated from the UW. A devoted wife, loving mother of two daughters, and dedicated community volunteer, Sally found employment opportunities utilizing all aspects of her degree. Throughout her life she passionately promoted all disciplines of home economics as a member of the Diablo Home Economists, a professional organization for those living in and around Walnut Creek, CA, where Sally and her husband, David (BS 1962 Chemical Engineering) made their home.
Sally realized her dream of writing a book when she was employed to develop recipes for microwave cooking. In fact, she wrote one of the earliest published general cookbooks on microwave cooking and authored five more. Her love of textiles and knowledge of color theory fueled a passion for quilting. A frequent attendee at local and national quilt shows, Sally garnered several local quilting awards.
As longtime supporters of the University and proponents of lifelong learning, Sally and Dave proudly joined the collaborative campaign to endow the 100 Women Chair in Human Ecology.
Rosalie Amlie Morton
Rosalie Amlie Morton (BS '28 Home Economics) was ahead of her time when she decided to pursue a college degree. Born of Norwegian parents in Binford, North Dakota and orphaned at a young age, Rosalie escaped the poverty and starvation of subsistence level farming when her oldest brother, who was attending Law School, arranged for her to come to Madison. While working for the Economics Department she met Walter A. Morton, a teaching assistant completing a doctorate in Economics. They married a year after Rosalie completed her degree and Walter had joined the Department of Economics faculty. A proud mother of two children, Stephen and Jane, Rosalie was active in local Democratic Party politics and the Audubon Society. She instilled in her children a love of learning and a deep appreciation for the natural environment. In tribute to their mother, Stephen and Jane established two endowments in her honor. The Rosalie Amlie Morton Award provides a monetary award to top graduating seniors. The Rosalie Amlie Morton Scholarship supports deserving students who, like Rosalie, need financial assistance to fulfill their dream of a UW-Madison degree.
Jean Alford Myers
Jean Alford Myers’ (MS’47 Home Economics) husband, Phil Myers, and the couple’s five children joined in a gift to honor Jean through the 100 Women Campaign. The couple previously established an endowment enabling Human Ecology graduate students to attend professional conferences. Now, the 100 Women gift is one that will be long remembered. While raising her children, Jean hosted many holiday parties for her husband’s graduate students, many of them international students unfamiliar with U.S. traditions. These students have become extended family and Jean is still in contact with many of them around the globe. She also dedicated much effort to community needs, training to become an emergency medical technician and volunteering for years with the Shorewood Hills Emergency Medical Service. She organized the office of the Shorewood Hills Police Department, made costumes for the Madison Ballet Company and helped start the First United Methodist Church food pantry. Wherever Jean Alford Myers saw a need, she participated wholeheartedly in a solution.
Lorna E. Nagler
Milwaukee native Lorna Nagler (BS 1978 Retailing) vividly recalls when a local retailer visited her UW classroom. “That was a lightbulb moment for me, hearing what she did and what retailing is all about.” In a similar way, Lorna has been a frequent guest speaker, sharing her own real-life experiences and inspiring the next generation of retailing professionals.
Her esteemed career spans three decades, from buyer to divisional VP at both Kids R Us/Toys R US to senior vice president of apparel at Kmart to president of Lane Bryant and Catherine’s Stores, Christopher & Banks and Beall’s Department Stores. Lorna also was one of the first women to serve on the Board of Directors for ULTA Beauty.
A third-generation alumna, Lorna says, “Madison has never left me. I’m blessed to have a family that instilled in me the value of education and an appreciation of UW-Madison.” By participating in the collaborative 100 Women Chair in Human Ecology, Lorna hopes future generations will share her passion for the transformative impact of the University, showing their Badger pride wherever they go.
Alice Krueger Nelson
Alice Krueger Nelson earned her college degree at UW-Stout. She then taught home economics at Barron High School in northern Wisconsin while building three homes with her husband and raising four children. “Mom lived and breathed home economics,” said son and UW-Madison alum Jim Nelson. When he and his wife Mary visited Nancy (BS ’55 Home Economics) and Albert “Ab” (BS ’52, MBA ’55) Nicholas in Door County, they congratulated the Nicholases on their $8 million lead gift to the Human Ecology building campaign. In turn, the Nicholases described the School’s 100 Women Campaign. The campaign seemed like a great way to show appreciation for both Alice Nelson’s life and the University, the Nelsons decided. And another exemplary woman was added to the growing list to be recognized in the new Human Ecology building.
Mary Klus Nelson
Mary Klus Nelson (BS 1968 Education) and James Edward Nelson (BS 1966 Math, MS 1967 Actuarial Science) dedicated their gift to the 100 Women Chair in Human Ecology to all women who give children the “roots and wings” to live well, laugh often and love much.
Giving children “roots” helps them develop a strong sense of family and security, an appreciation for one’s good fortune and a respect for other people and perspectives. It also means being a role model for maintaining a positive attitude, working hard and having a sense of humor.
Giving children “wings” involves nurturing them to become honest, self-aware and confident adults, responsible and accountable for their actions, committed to helping others and dedicated to giving back. It also means teaching them to create opportunities out of challenges.
B. Ann Neviaser (MS Consumer Science 1985) has served on the School’s Board of Visitors since 1996. She is president of Neviaser Investments, Inc., which owns and manages hotels and commercial real estate. She is vice chairman of the Wisconsin Higher Education Aids Board, secretary of the Edgewood College Board of Trustees and a member of the Madison Rotary Foundation. Neviaser is a former member of the Wisconsin Psychology Examining Board, a former public member and chair of the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board, and a current member of the Board of Trustees of Edgewood College. She served over eight years on the Dane County Board and was the first woman to chair its Finance Committee. Speaking about her 100 Women Campaign gift, Neviaser noted that the new Human Ecology building should include space for research in areas that may not even have been discovered yet, as well as for ongoing programs. A UW-Madison Bascom Hill Society member, Neviaser previously provided philanthropic leadership for the Dean’s Office renovation and supported publication of the book, The Challenge of Constantly Changing Times: From Home Economics to Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1903 – 2003, by Consumer Science Professor Rima Apple.
It’s natural for a grandmother to lovingly boast of a grandchild’s accomplishments, but when her admiration comes with a testimonial about great determination, a strong work ethic and proven success, it's clear why Kathryn “Katie” Lyn Nicholas (’08 BA Art History) was chosen by her grandmother, Nancy Johnson Nicholas (’55 BS Home Economics), for 100 Women recognition. Determined to blend artistic talents with a love of food, Katie moved from treks up Bascom Hill and navigating the streets of Chicago to complete a culinary degree from Kendall College. Returning to her home town of Milwaukee, she gained valuable experience working for several highly respected dining establishments including Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro and the Town Club of Fox Point, Wisconsin, before finding her current job with Burke Candy & Ingredients, a family-owned business known in Milwaukee for its gourmet confections. When not in the kitchen developing delectable candies or helping customers select the perfect gourmet assortment, Katie spends time with family and friends. When she opened her grandparent’s Christmas gift in 2013, she became the youngest 100 Women honoree and the fourth generation of her family to receive this special recognition.
When Lori M. Nicholas (’83 BS Mathematics) became the first in her family to go to college she, knew it required working hard and setting ambitious goals, especially when women majoring in math was an anomaly. Needing to pay for college expenses Lori worked every summer and juggled classes and studying to work evenings and weekends. Lori’s hard work paid off when she was hired as an associate actuary with Milliman & Robertson, a prestigious actuarial firm in Milwaukee. Determined to secure the licensing needed to become an actuary, Lori passed the required exams to acquire her Member of the American Academy of Actuaries. Her professional success was even more impressive since early in her career she and her husband, David O. Nicholas (’83 BBA Finance, Information Systems), became the proud parents of a daughter, Kathryn L. Nicholas (’08 BA Art History). Crunching numbers isn’t Lori’s only claim to fame. One of her proudest accomplishments is starting and running a nonprofit youth girls basketball organization in Mequon, WI. She has been involved with this program for nearly 15 years. No wonder her mother-in-law, Nancy Johnson Nicholas (’55 BS Home Economics), decided a Christmas surprise announcing Lori’s recognition as a 100 Women honoree was the perfect way to acknowledge her many accomplishments and at the same time support Human Ecology’s Personal Finance program.
Lynn S. Nicholas
BBA, Finance & Marketing) followed in her parent’s footsteps when she earned her degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She instilled her love of the UW in her children who have continued the family’s proud Badger legacy. As president of the Nicholas Family Foundation and executive director of the Ab Nicholas Scholarship Foundation, Lynn brings to life her family’s commitment to faith, family and education. She also is Senior Vice President of the Nicholas Company, a successful mutual fund firm started by her father. She is a Chartered Financial Analyst. Lynn has generously devoted time and talent serving on several local and state boards including Prevent Blindness-Wisconsin, the Zoological Society of Wisconsin, Columbia St. Mary’s Foundation, and the advisory boards of UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee Schools of Business. Lynn’s 100 Women recognition was a surprise Christmas gift from her parents, Nancy Johnson Nicholas (’55 BS, Home Economics) and Albert “Ab” O. Nicholas (’52 BS, Economics, ’55 MBA). This special gift was their way of honoring Lynn’s commitment to family values and education. It was designated to Human Ecology’s Personal Finance Teaching Endowment Fund.
Nancy Johnson Nicholas
A 1955 graduate of the School, Nancy Johnson Nicholas and her husband, Albert “Ab” Nicholas, generously provided the $8 million lead gift to renovate and expand the Human Ecology Building. Given in 2004, the gift is believed to be the largest single private gift ever made to a human ecology program. In announcing the gift, Nicholas said, “I believe in the School of Human Ecology’s mission of enhancing the quality of life for people in all economic situations … Helping to create a new learning environment under one roof that will benefit the students, the faculty, the staff and the collections is exciting.” Robin A. Douthitt, Dean of the School of Human Ecology, said, “I’m pleased that this lead gift comes from a Human Ecology alumna whose life and family exemplifies the importance of career, family, and community. The Nicholas-Johnson family names evoke the same high values and integrity embodied in our school’s mission, its proud history, and exciting future.” Thanks in large part to the Nicholas gift, Nancy Nicholas Hall accommodates all functions of the school within a single building and meets the space requirements for research, creative endeavors, education, and outreach. The enlarged building also offers an inviting area for public events and interdisciplinary research.
Phyllis M. Northway
Phyllis M. Northway (‘48 BS, Home Economics Education) enjoyed an accomplished career as a University of Wisconsin Extension Home Economist with assignments in Marinette and Fond du Lac counties before moving to Kenosha County. She taught high school home economics five years prior to starting in Extension. During her 25 years as the Kenosha County Extension Home Economist, Phyllis conducted educational programs on topics ranging from family relationships, nutrition, food safety and preservation to consumer education and financial management. She also worked with the 4-H Youth Program conducting training meetings for family living project leaders. In 1974, Phyllis served as president of the National Association of Extension Home Economists, only the second time in the association’s history someone from Wisconsin served in this capacity. Following her presidency she served as chair of the association’s first Public Policy Committee. She was well known for her work in developing leadership within the Extension homemaker organization and in 1987, was honored as one of Human Ecology’s distinguished alums. Having worked in the public arena her entire career, Phyllis became acutely aware of the need for accurate, nonpartisan, research-based information for policy-makers. Her gift supports the School’s public policy research and outreach activities on behalf of children and families.
Jerry A. Goen Ohm
In 2010, Karon Ohm (BS ’84, Consumer Science), past chair of the Human Ecology Board of Visitors, gave a 100 Women gift to honor her mother, Jerry A. Goen Ohm. Jerry Ohm served as a vice president in the Brady Company, later renamed Brady Marketing Group, Menomonee Falls. For much of her life, she remained greatly affected by the death of her brother on Okinawa in 1945. Guy Goen was killed in action during World War II, while serving with the U.S. Army’s 96th Infantry Division. He had trained for the army at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Red Gym, and many years after his death, Jerry Ohm memorialized his service with a gift for a student lounge during renovations of the historic campus building. Thus, Karon Ohm felt it was appropriate to recognize her mother as a 100 Women honoree with a gift to the new Human Ecology building.
Marilyn Mau Olson
Wishing to have a positive impact on the lives of young children, Marilyn Mau Olson (BS 1960 Early Childhood Development) studied early childhood education and started her career teaching kindergarten in Madison and Evanston, Illinois. When she and her husband Robert (BSME 1960; MBA 1961) moved to Green Bay, Marilyn remained active in early education, serving on the board of directors of her children’s preschool and managing the children’s library at her church. Returning to work full time in 1980, Marilyn worked as director of Mayflower Nursery School for 15 years. She was an active member of a professional association of Green Bay preschool directors, assuming a leadership role on several occasions.
When visiting the Preschool Lab in 2014, Marilyn was thrilled to once again engage children through reading, play, and music. “I’ll never forget that visit. Afterwards, Bob surprised me by honoring me in a special way." Marilyn is delighted her 100 Women recognition resulted in SoHE's first fully endowed graduate fellowship, supporting research in child development and family well-being.
Dorothy O’Brien’s 100 Women gift built on an earlier pledge, which created the Dorothy O’Brien Fund for Human Ecology. This fund helped support the research of a faculty member in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. Dorothy O’Brien then increased her philanthropic commitment and joined the Human Ecology 100 Women group. O’Brien (BS ’70 Home Economics Journalism) is a member of the School’s Board of Visitors and chaired the board in 2010. She has used her degree in her work with such corporations as The American Furniture Mart, Charles Spencer & Associates, Coopers and Lybrand, and Lazarus in the areas of benefits, compensation, human resources and public relations. She has held positions in nonprofit organizations including the American Dental Association and the Chicago office of the National Organization for Women. Dorothy O’Brien has also co-owned a consulting business, Women in Process, managing organizational change and personal development. She has lived in Chicago, New York City, and Kobe, Japan. She currently divides her time between Cincinnati, Ohio, and Longboat Key, Florida. In Cincinnati she serves on the boards of the Tri-State Adoption Coalition and Asian Community Alliance, Inc. She is also a member of Impact 100 and the Town and Welcomers clubs.
Hazel B. Paschall
The estate gift of Hazel Paschall (1907-2002) is a fitting legacy for this dedicated Human Ecology educator. In her twenty years as a Clothing and Textiles professor at UW, Hazel Paschall succeeded in bringing together academic learning and practical training in apparel design. She received her BS in Sociology at Southwest Missouri State, followed by a Masters at Columbia in 1940. Paschall was appointed to UW in 1952, where she taught courses such as “Clothing Economics,” “Textiles in Merchandising” and “Advanced Apparel Dress Design.” After researching the job market for designers in Milwaukee and Dallas, she organized a program for apparel design students to spend their junior year at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. Paschall also worked with the School of Business to develop the retailing major and co-authored two circulars on textile legislation with Lenore Landry. In 1968 she was recognized for her dedication to students with a nomination for “Outstanding Teacher Award” in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.
Bernadine H. Peterson
Professor emerita Bernadine Helen Peterson (1923 – 2014) (MS 1957; PhD 1961 Home Economics Education) joined the School of Human Ecology faculty in 1965, specializing in family, consumer, and community education. She held a joint appointment with UW-Extension and served as Extension program leader for the southeast district until she retired.
A member of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences and the American Association of Home Economics, Bernadine taught and published on the subjects of consumer behavior and household economics and operations. Many of the titles resonate in today’s human ecology, including Getting Your Money’s Worth, Furnishings and Space, and Your Budget.
In admiration of Bernadine as a devoted human ecologist, Extension pioneer, and long-time supporter of the school, her close friend Jane Gruber (1925-2015) (MS 1964 Education), designated a gift to the 100 Women Chair in Human Ecology in Bernadine’s honor.
Judy Pyle has served on the School of Human Ecology Board of Visitors since 1996. She suggested the idea of the 100 Women Campaign to Dean Robin A. Douthitt as a way to encourage the involvement of many women in philanthropy and in the support of the school’s building campaign. After all, she notes, “that’s what the School is about.” Women have always created and cared for it. “This is a gem of a school.” The president of Judith Dion Pyle & Associates, a financial services and investment company in Middleton, Wis., Pyle serves on several other boards including Alliant Energy Corporation, Uniek, Inc., Children’s Theatre of Madison and Trails Media Group, Inc. Prior to assuming her current position in 2003, she served as vice chair of The Pyle Group, a financial services company. She previously served as vice chair and senior vice president of corporate marketing of Rayovac Corporation, in Madison, Wis. Pyle received her undergraduate and master of fine arts degrees from the University of California-Los Angeles and completed advanced management programs at the University of Virginia and Harvard University.
Marian Stephenson Quade
In its inaugural list, the Financial Times recognized Marian Quade as one of the Top 100 Women Financial Advisers in 2014. Inspired by her father, she was intrigued by investing from an early age. What she enjoys most about her profession is the relationships she has formed and the role she has been able to play helping clients acheive their goals.
With a BA in Economics from Stanford University, Marian moved to Wisconsin in the 1980s and managed her first mutual fund shortly after joining First Wisconsin Bank. Over the next 22 years, Marian’s responsibilities increased, ultimately resulting in being named head of equities.
As portfolio manager with Madison Investment Advisors, she serves as managing director of the firm’s private client business, specializing in customized portfolio management. Marian joined the School of Human Ecology’s Board of Visitors in 2011 and shares her expertise with students in the consumer finance program and with SoHE leadership. In making her gift to the 100 Women Chair in Human Ecology, Marian hopes to inspire students to follow their dreams and passions.
May S. Reynolds
May S. Reynolds (MS ’24, PhD ’36) began her career as a teacher in Iowa and later became a researcher with biochemist Harry Steenbock and nutritionist Helen Parsons at UW-Madison. Reynolds was named a 100 Women honoree as the result of a collaborative effort initiated by Dorothy Pringle (MS ’51, PhD ’56, Nutrition). Reynolds’ first published research, a 1924 article co-authored with Helen Parsons, demonstrated that rats could synthesize their own ascorbic acid, while guinea pigs, like humans, could not. Later, her research focused on the protein needs of humans, examining, for example, the protein content of soybeans and the influence of nutrients on protein metabolism. In 1958 Reynolds received the Borden Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges with the Borden Company Foundation. While Reynolds was earning her doctorate, her daughter Margaret was pursuing her own degree in the school. Margaret Nelson (BS ’37, MS ’55, PhD ’65) followed her mother’s footsteps, working as a Consumer Science professor until her retirement in 1986. Reynolds and Nelson were the only mother-daughter pair to ever work as professors in the School. In 1961 at age 70, Reynolds and Frances Zuill, retired head of Home Economics, consulted at three colleges of home economics in Pakistan. After she returned to the United States, Reynolds became a visiting professor at the University of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania State University, Brigham Young University, and the University of Delaware.
Audrey F. Ross
Growing up in Milwaukee, Audrey Feldstein Ross (1936-2005) spent her summers working for her father, William Feldstein, who, in 1945, established the sportswear label Junior House (later JH Collectibles). She enjoyed early success while working in the design room, selling the design for the iconic poodle skirt to Lord and Taylor in the 1950s.
Over the years, Audrey’s responsibilities evolved, particularly in the late 1970s after her husband, Kenneth, assumed the role of president and CEO of the brand. “She planned all of the sales conventions, sales meetings, dinners, and social events,” remembers her son Bruce who, with his sister Karen, chose to recognize their mother as a 100 Women honoree. “She was like the first lady of Junior House.” A steadfast and enthusiastic philanthropist, he says, Audrey “loved people who followed their dreams and she loved Wisconsin. She would share our enthusiasm for the direction SoHE is going.”
Pleasant T. Rowland
Pleasant T. Rowland’s career began as a primary grade teacher. An interest in teaching children to read led her to author reading and language arts programs used widely throughout the United States for decades. In 1985, she created The American Girls Collection®, a line of historically accurate books, dolls, and accessories intended to generate knowledge, understanding and pride in the role of women and girls over many generations. Through story-telling and play, young girls could imagine different eras, culture and life-changing events in a positive and affirming way. After serving as president and chairman of American Girl for 15 years, she formed the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation in 2000 and founded the Rowland Reading Foundation in 2004 to improve reading instruction in the primary grades. She has been widely recognized for her marketing genius and philanthropy, receiving an honorary degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin Governor’s Award for contributions to the arts. A longtime friend to Human Ecology, Pleasant established the Rowland Distinguished Directorship in support of the Center for Textiles, Culture and Design, which includes the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection, the Ruth Ketterer Harris Library and the Ruth Davis Design Gallery.
Sharon Brewer Scanlan
Sharon Scanlan (BS ’70, Textiles and Clothing), retired senior vice president of Sears, provided a 100 Women gift to support the Human Ecology building and renovation campaign, “in recognition of what the School has meant to me personally, as well as professionally.” Her gift also recognizes the Center for Retail Excellence. Scanlan, who worked at Sears for 33 years, chaired the Human Ecology Board of Visitors from 2008-2009 and previously co-chaired the Board’s Retail Program Assessment Committee. The committee’s work helped to revitalize the Kohl’s Department Stores Center for Retailing Excellence and facilitated the hiring of its director, Jerry O’Brien in 2006.
Human Ecology Board of Visitors member and 100 Women Campaign donors Elizabeth Holloway Schar, BS Family and Consumer Journalism, ’75, has traveled a long way from her roots in the School. Those roots are deep. Both parents graduated from UW-Madison, and Schar’s mom (Jane Davies Holloway BS ’45) and aunt (Elizabeth Carol Davies BS ’38) earned degrees from the School. Her mom was “a thoughtful cook, who prepared nutritious meals, with fruits, vegetables and meats frugally and carefully prepared. I think she must have been the star student in bacteriology,” Schar recalled. “I didn’t realize how different this was until I spent time in the kitchens of other women who were not home economics majors. I was stunned, one evening, to watch a hostess stir the sauce, lick the spoon and return it to the sauce! I almost shouted out, ‘Don’t do that!’ Instead I asked her, ‘What did you study in college?’” “English,” the woman replied. “That explains that,” Schar said to herself. Asked about her college memories, Schar recalled: “There [was] so much to do, so much to absorb…it was just an amazing experience.” Now a partner with husband Mark Schar in Three Points Solutions, a Palo Alto, Calif., firm, Schar feels the same way about her current environment: “There’s so much to learn and participate in.” “Three Points Solutions is about developing ideas, products and messages that appeal to consumers,” she explained. This requires a broad look at the environment, focused study of the user’s point of view and rigorous evaluation of results. Schar has worked with such clients as the World Health Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hospitals and public health agencies. “There’s a big opportunity now in learning how to talk to consumers about their health in ways that encourage them to change their behavior,” she said. “Sometimes we are willing to change our behavior for people we love more than for ourselves.” If parents smoke and are concerned about the effect of secondhand smoke on their children, they may start going outside to smoke. “If a behavior becomes more inconvenient or expensive, people are more likely to quit, so clean air laws can be a step toward encouraging smokers to quit.” Another challenging health issue is the rising incidence of obesity in children. “It’s a tragedy that we’re in this environment where we’re overfeeding ourselves, and we as a society have to figure how to address this,” Schar said. “Giving children nutrition information and physical activity at school is not enough,” she explained. “Significant adults modeling behavior is incredibly powerful. Children do what the adults around them do – not what they’re told to do.” In addition to Mark, Elizabeth’s family includes two sons: Tom, a UW-Madison alumnus, and John, a student at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Laura M. Secord
An education enthusiast, Laura M. Secord (BS ’48) dedicated her life to children. She grew up the youngest of five in Elm Grove, WI, and came to UW-Madison to study chemistry. She soon switched to home economics, a change that fed her interests in early childhood development and nutrition. At UW-Madison she not only fell in love with campus’ Bascom Hill and Picnic Point, but also her future husband, Robert, a native of Westby, WI, who graduated with a degree in economics. After college the two married, moved to Minnesota, and started their own family of five children. Laura’s background in early childhood development and nutrition remained at the forefront as she grew her family and helped build their suburban community. “Her career became her children,” states her daughter Nancy Ballsrud, who along with husband, James R. Nelson, gifted the Laura M. Secord Chair in Early Childhood Development. “She was a wonderful mother who encouraged our education and helped us discover our own individual passions.”
Helen Josephine "Jo" (Hildebrandt) Shannon
Upon entering college, Helen Josephine “Jo” (Hildebrandt) Shannon ( ’49 BS, Home Economics) registered with a nursing major but switched after deciding she would use home economics more in her life. After graduation, she taught home economics prior to marrying Arthur Shannon and raising their four children. Always the seamstress, she created her own wedding dress, with careful details that would later amaze her grandchildren. Jo Shannon was active with the Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority, women’s and bridge clubs, church, and Girl Scouts. Sixty-plus years after graduation, she continued to meet regularly with a group of Wauwatosa high school chums who had attended the School together. Her mother, Rhoda Koch Hildebrandt, and daughter-in-law, Mary Sue Shannon, are also 100 Women honorees—three generations of SoHE women!
Mary Sue Shannon
Among Mary Sue Shannon’s (’81 BS, Preschool-Kindergarten Education) favorite college memories were preschool practicums that proved extremely useful later in life. After marrying, starting a family, and moving to California, Mary Sue was serving on her children’s private K-12 school board when it decided to open its own preschool. She helped with the licensing and launching process and then continued on the board as its representative of the preschool. Again, combining family and community service, Mary Sue chaired several fundraisers and helped lead the area’s National Charity League chapter, which engages women and daughters in grades 7 through 12 in volunteer service and leadership development. Mary Sue and her husband, Mike Shannon, later moved to Colorado. As strong advocates of early childhood education and the involvement of parents in a child’s cognitive, social and emotional development, Mary Sue and Mike established Human Ecology’s first endowed chair to support translational research in contemplative practices intended to cultivate kindness, empathy and other pro-social characteristics in children and to study the benefits of mindful parenting.
In 2012, Soyeon Shim became Dean of the School of Human Ecology, ushering in a new era for the school. With incredible drive, passion, and collaborative spirit she redefined what it means to be a Human Ecologist in the 21st century. Growing up in Seoul, South Korea, Soyeon and her siblings would answer their father each night with what they had done that day that was worthwhile, to justify eating the meal set before them. This early lesson instilled a strong sense of purpose, driving her academic and professional achievements, including degrees from Yonsei University and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She spent 22 years at the University of Arizona as an administrator and scholar of consumer and financial behavior, and founded the longitudinal study, "APLUS," researching young adults' financial habits and life outcomes over more than ten years. In 2017, Dean Shim was named the Ted Kellner Bascom Professor, recognizing the high esteem in which she is held by her colleagues. She was nominated for 100 Women recognition by Lynn and Gary Mecklenburg, who greatly admire her visionary leadership. Soyeon's husband, Christopher Choi, is a Professor of Biological Systems Engineering. They have proudly raised two children together, Jina and Ian.
Julie Bender Silver
Julie Bender Silver, BS ’77 Early Child Education, has created a career of leadership. An activist, fundraiser, and philanthropist, Silver has headed since 1995 the Bender Foundation, Inc., which annually contributes to over 70 nonprofit groups, primarily in the Washington, DC metro area. “Community service and leadership have defined me and filled my life with purpose and meaning,” Silver said. “I embrace and passionately pursue projects and programs that touch my core – causes relating to children, families and women; health; education; the environment; Jewish issues and animals.” Recently added to this list is the School of Human Ecology. Appointed to the School’s Board of Visitors in 2005, she has also been recognized as a 100 Women honoree. When Dean Robin A. Douthitt shared her vision for an expanded Human Ecology building, Silver thought: “This is the most fabulous idea! I want to be part of it!” Acting on a request from husband David Silver, the Bender Foundation pledged $100,000 to honor Silver through the 100 Women Campaign. Silver grew up in a caring and giving family environment. “I was taught to use our Jewish values to improve the quality of life for everyone,” she said. “My grandparents began my family’s legacy of tzedakah [giving back] by setting up a family foundation to enable future generations to continue the values they cherished.” As a member of the Jewish Community Center Board, Silver led the creation of a parenting center, where parents of all ages, faiths and backgrounds could find support and seek advice from child development experts. Decades ago, extended families lived together or nearby and neighborhood parents learned from each other. Today, with extended families often living in other countries or states, families find information and support at places like the Bender-Dosik Parenting Center. She helped expand and renovate Discovery Creek, a children’s museum, helping lead a capital campaign and becoming involved with site renovations and area revitalization. She continues to serve on the museum’s honorary board. Julie Bender Silver has supported many other groups – to name just a few: the Women’s Auxiliary of the Hebrew Home of Washington, Second Genesis (a drug/alcohol drug rehabilitation group), and Hebrew University Vet School. Her skills as a fundraiser have benefited numerous institutions, such as the Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, the Jewish Social Service Agency, the National Children’s Hospital, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Her many honors include the Jewish Women International’s 2004 Community Leadership Award and a 2005 Athena nomination by the Women Business Owners of Montgomery County, Maryland.
Catharine (Kitty) McGinnis Smith
Catharine (Kitty) Smith (BS ’61, Textile Science) enjoyed a long successful career as a vice president and senior financial advisor with Merrill Lynch in New York City. She was a member of the Field Champions Network, a group that advises on advanced technology and training solutions. Smith worked with individuals and families, as well as charitable organizations and businesses. She also completed the Financial Consultants program at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Smith very capably and enthusiastically advised the Dean as a member of the Human Ecology Board of Visitors from 2003 – 2005. She also served on the library board on Long Island, New York, for 13 years and as the assistant treasurer of The National Arts Club, New York City.
Kim Anderson Sponem
Kim Sponem (BS 1990 Consumer Science) has lived by the skills and values she learned as a Human Ecology student. Her numerous awards for leadership and community engagement serve to encourage women to support one another and give back as they pursue their careers. Kim became one of the nation’s youngest CEOs in her field when Summit Credit Union named her chief executive and president in 2002. Under her leadership, Summit developed innovative programs to strengthen communities and advance financial literacy, including STAR Credit Union, the only youth-chartered credit union in the world. Kim serves on the board of the Consumer Federation of America and the Community Depository Institution’s Advisory Council to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
Kim’s contributions to the School of Human Ecology are numerous, serving on the Board of Visitors (2009-2014) and helping form the Center for Financial Security. By joining with others to endow the 100 Women Chair in Human Ecology, Kim impacts the school’s future in yet another meaningful way.
Mary McDermott Strohmaier
Mary Strohmaier (BS 1980 Retailing) always knew she wanted a career in retailing. Her passion for marketing and merchandising evolved through her UW coursework, with an internship setting the stage for a rewarding career. Starting in the buying offices of Dayton’s in Minneapolis and then Gimbel’s in Milwaukee, Mary quickly adapted to the dynamic nature of the industry, honing her analytical skills to advance to senior level positions with Marshall Fields, Mark Shale, Jockey International and, finally, with the Everitt Knitting Company.
A desire to spend more time with her daughter, Sara (BS 2015 Personal Finance), and to give back to the community she loved, Mary traded the demands of retailing for rewarding volunteer roles with the Milwaukee Museum of Art and the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts.
Having joined the School of Human Ecology’s Board of Visitors in 2013, Mary and her husband, Carl, are enthusiastic about the school’s vision. “It’s an exciting time. The school’s initiatives, regarding families and leadership for example, are very relevant for the world today.” They are delighted to impact the school’s future through the 100 Women Chair in Human Ecology collaborative campaign.
Kathleen “Katie” Orea Sweeney
Kathleen “Katie” Orea Sweeney (1932-2014) was a collector, scholar, educator, and advocate for the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection. Not unlike the collection’s namesake, Katie traveled extensively to explore the diverse techniques, uses, and meanings of textiles from around the world.
An occupational therapist with the State of Wisconsin, she was active in local textile organizations and amassed her own collection of textile-related artifacts, including tools used to make the pieces she collected. In honor of her Irish and Norwegian heritage, she collected Irish lace and Sami tin thread embroidery. Katie eagerly shared her textile knowledge, frequently speaking to community groups and exhibiting at Irish Fest in Milwaukee. In her lifetime and through her estate, Katie chose to honor the two women who influenced her interests, establishing the Ruth Ketterer Harris Memorial Lectureship and donating many exceptional textiles and her extensive reference library to the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection.
“My mom died last year and we were trying to think of something to do that would be significant to remember her by,” said Nancy Borghesi, University of Wisconsin-Madison alumna. “This seemed to be the right thing to do and the perfect time to do it.” Borghesi’s mother, Helen Taylor, received a B.S. from the School in 1942. “The idea of singling out 100 women was very appealing,” Borghesi added. “This effort is a really interesting way to focus on a number of individuals. It’s significant, and it’s a visual recognition and reminder of their legacy.”
Marguerite Thessin Axley
Marguerite "Marge" Thessin Axley (BS '54 Home Economics Education) was known for her skills in the textile arts, from weaving to quilting. Her sewing expertise was legendary by virtue of the 300 bow ties she made for her husband, Hartman Axley (BS '52 Economics, LLB '56 Law). While "Hart" finished his law degree, Marge taught high school home economics. After they decided to make Denver their home, Marge dedicated herself to family and community. She shared her many talents with several Denver organizations including the Gift Shop at the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Botanic Gardens' Herb Garden and Metro Caring, a local nonprofit dedicated to ending hunger. As a Camp Fire leader for 10 years, she guided seven young women, nurturing their self-confidence and leadership abilities. She was the proud mother of Colleen and Timothy and adoring grandmother to Johanna, Kathryn, Daniel, Alexandra and Luke. In every aspect of her life, Marge was a "human ecologist," creatively solving problems and demonstrating compassion for others. No wonder her husband of nearly 50 years honored her legacy with a gift establishing an endowment in support of the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection.
Jane Rafferty Thiele
Impressed with the School's modern vision, Jane R. Thiele (BS 1972 Retailing) joined the school’s executive campaign committee for the All Ways Forward comprehensive campaign in 2014. “I like the idea of human ecology because I find the school’s diverse departments to be incredibly interesting and relevant in today’s society.”
Jane completed an internship in men’s apparel and worked as a buyer for JCPenney. She and husband Patrick (BBA 1972 Finance; MS 1975) have called many places home, including Bermuda and London. While raising three children, Jane was involved with a multi-million dollar campaign as a Board of Trustees member of their children’s high school.
In establishing the Jane Rafferty Thiele Professorship in Human Ecology and joining the 100 Women honorees, Jane says, “My gift is a way to encourage young students to work hard, be confident and achieve professional as well as personal success.”
Joan Schurch Thomson
Joan Schurch Thomson (BS 1964 Home Economics Journalism; MS 1965 Agricultural Journalism; PhD 1969 Mass Communications) is professor emerita at The Pennsylvania State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences where she specialized in food systems communications and university outreach education. She has been an active member of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences and has published widely on the subject of food systems and outreach efforts with local communities.
A recipient of the school’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1994, Joan supported the School of Human Ecology throughout her career, including enhancing the Schurch-Thomson Graduate Student Research Excellence Award, an endowment originally established by her mother, Velma Reich Schurch (BS 1933 Home Economics Education; MS 1937).
Joan’s gift towards the 100 Women Chair in Human Ecology is inspired by her appreciation for the breadth, quality, and continued growth of the School of Human Ecology.
“I wanted to support the building. I’ve been a loyal supporter of the School since 1939 when I graduated,” said Kay Vaughan, who has given a deferred gift of stock to the School. “We decided that whatever we could do, we should do early on, to give other people the idea that they could do this too, she said.” Vaughan is one of several alums who are giving because they see the need for new facilities and hope their gift is a catalyst for others. Previously, Vaughan endowed the Vaughan Bascom Professorship in Women and Philanthropy, and her philanthropic vision has been an inspiration and encouragement to many.
Lorna Jorgenson Wendt
Courageous, determined … words describing the role Lorna Jorgenson Wendt (’65 BM Music) had as a pioneer in the quest for equality before, during and after marriage. Having put her career on hold to raise children, manage a household and support her husband’s business endeavors, Lorna started a national discussion on fairness and equality in all relationships when her 32 year marriage ended and she publicly defended her role as an equal partner. Realizing there was a need to help others understand the many facets of equality, Lorna founded and led the Equality in Marriage Institute from 1998 until its closure in 2008. While issues of equality have defined her public persona, Lorna has had a lifelong commitment to many civic and nonprofit organizations, serving on the boards of Outward Bound International, the Stamford Symphony, and the Greenwich Chorale Society. Her service to the University of Wisconsin includes the School of Music advisory board and the Women’s Philanthropy Council. Her 100 Women gift launched the Money, Relationships and Equality (MORE) focus of the 4W (For Women, for Well-Being, for Wisconsin and for the World)
Louise A. Young
Louise Young (1910-2005) was honored through her estate gift, supplemented by a gift from Dorothy “Dottie” Luening (MS ’64 Home Economics Cooperative Extension). “She was talented and well respected,” Luening said of Young. After the Second World War, when consumer issues first started receiving national attention, Louise Young was ready to step in and to help out. For over thirty years, as an extension specialist in family and consumer economics, she taught Wisconsin residents to manage their finances and to understand consumer issues. Young developed an early interest in finances from her father, who was an independent oil producer and who sometimes discussed economics with her. Her mother was a teacher, and it became a natural career choice for Young. After graduating from the University of Illinois with a degree in Home Economics Education in 1932, Young taught for several years in Lawrenceville, Illinois. She then worked as the first home economics extension agent in Christian County, Illinois for four years. After being encouraged by her state leader to pursue a Masters degree, Young accepted an offer from the University of Missouri. While there she took courses in consumer economics and wrote a thesis on the use of consumer credit by farm families. After earning her MA in Family and Consumer Economics in 1941, she stayed on at Missouri as an instructor and supervisor of the home management house. Young was appointed to the UW in 1945, and for the following three decades she traveled extensively throughout the state teaching people about a wide variety of financial issues. Initially her teaching focused on basic financial and estate planning, but later she expanded into areas such as consumer credit, record-keeping, and life insurance. She published a number of bulletins including “Family Estate Planning,” “Our Family Records,” “Savings and Investments,” “Wise Use of Consumer Credit,” and “Problems Facing Consumers.” Young also shared her expertise in financial matters with the people of Wisconsin through her extensive involvement in numerous organizations. In addition to serving in various capacities for the Wisconsin Home Economics Association, the American Home Economics Association, and the American Council on Consumer Interests, she was a charter member of the Wisconsin Consumer League, she was on the board of directors of the University of Wisconsin Credit Union, and she was the first woman member of the board of directors of the Madison Gas and Electric Company. Her service to the university includes her tenure as Acting Associate Dean of the School of Home Economics in 1968-69.
As director of home economics at UW from 1939 to 1961, Frances Zuill fought fiercely for resources and respect for home economics, and expected those around her to share her determination. Zuill was born on a farm near Whitewater, Wisconsin in 1890. Determined to attend Stout Institute (now UW-Stout) but unable to pay for it, she taught at a county school in Utters Corners for two years to save up money. She earned a two-year diploma from Stout in 1913 and then taught at the North Dakota School of Science in Wahpeton through 1919. In 1920 she moved to New York where she earned a bachelors and then a masters degree in Home Economics from Teachers College, Columbia University. She supervised home economics in the Baltimore public schools, was a visiting lecturer at Johns Hopkins, and was a visiting professor at Cornell and the University of Washington before accepting a position as chair of the Department of Home Economics at the State University of Iowa. After serving there for 15 years, she was accepted the equivalent position at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In Zuill’s 22 years at UW-Madison, the status of home economics was transformed from a department to a school, and in 1951 she became the first associate dean of Home Economics within the College of Agriculture. Zuill raised money for and then oversaw the construction of the new Home Management House, the west wing of the Home Economics Building, and the new Preschool Laboratory. Visit the School of Human Ecology page on the UW Foundation website to learn more about giving priorities. These range from the Dean’s Priority Fund to specific program innovations and unexpected needs.