Members of the School of Human Ecology’s Board of Visitors have attained prominence in their field and are chosen because of their value in providing sound advice and counsel. Appointment is considered one of the highest honors given by the School. Founding board of members are listed here.
Debra Alder – Appointed: 2016
Debra Alder is the president/CEO of the Alder Companies, a third generation family business distributing Dean Dairy products throughout the Midwest and employing 75 people at four locations in Wisconsin and Illinois. Providing logistics expertise with a fleet of tractor-trailers, the companies travel over 5 million miles per year. Experience gained as a small business owner has provided a broad range of knowledge in many areas along with many practical daily applications.
Lucky enough to be born into a community focused family; Debra has been a “volunteer” as long as she can remember. She serves on the Catholic Community Foundation (Milwaukee) and was recently named to the St. Norbert College Board of Trustees. She was a founding director of Community Bank Delavan and has previously served on the board of United Way of Walworth County, VIP Services, Delavan-Darien Education Foundation and Delavan Chamber of Commerce.
In 2009, Debra received the Wisconsin Governor’s Trailblazer Award for Women in Business and the Governor’s Torch Award given to third generation family business owners. The Milwaukee Business Journal also named her as a “Woman of Influence” in 2011.
Most recently, Debra and family have renovated a 101 year old historical building on the main street of downtown Delavan. Providing affordable rental housing as well as retail café space, the building is serving as an economic catalyst for the business district. The area was recently named to the National Register of Historical Places.
Recognizing the School of Human Ecology’s role in shaping her personal focus on communication, integrity and robust relationships within her family, business and community, Debra was honored to be named to the SOHE Board of Visitors.
Deb is married to Dr. Jeffery Scherer (UW -MD ’78) and they are proud parents of Jack (UW MD ’15), Jenny and Joe. Outside interests include travel, Wisconsin sports, quilting and walking many miles with the family’s two lively dogs.
Stephanie Anderson – Appointed: 2011
(BS 1981, Interior Design) is co-owner and executive vice president of Creative Business Interiors, Inc. With offices in Milwaukee and Madison, Creative Business Interiors has a staff of 80 and specializes in interior design, interior construction, and business furnishings for a variety of clients, including corporate, banking, professional service, health care, education, retail, and nonprofit organizations. Before co-founding Creative Business Interiors in 1991, Anderson was vice president of Indecon, a design/build/furnish firm. Certified by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ), Anderson also is a Wisconsin Registered Interior Designer (WRID). In addition, she is a member of the National Independent Contract Dealer Council (NICDC), a national group of (Knoll) Office Furniture Dealer Principals dedicated to best business practices. Anderson received the Milwaukee Business Journal 2002 “Women of Influence” award for mentoring.
Michael Axelrod – Appointed: 2014
(BS 1993, Consumer Science) started his wealth management career while he was a junior in the School of Family Resources and Consumer Sciences at University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1992, Michael secured a highly competitive collegiate internship with Northwestern Mutual. While completing his junior and senior years at UW-Madison, he started his career in Wealth Management within the local Madison branch of Northwestern Mutual. To this day, some of Michael’s best client relationships come from clients he acquired while at Madison. He was named a National “Top 10” college intern in 1992 and 1993. After graduation in 1993, Michael immediately joined Bleakley, Schwartz, Cooney & Finney, a boutique wealth management firm within Northwestern Mutual. Michael has been a partner at the firm since 1999. Bleakley, based in the New York City area, employs over 100 people and manages $3 billion of client assets. Michael has played an integral role in helping to grow the firm and help clients across the country manage their finances. Michael is a national speaker within the wealth management industry. Michael is married to Heidi and they live in Short Hills, NJ, with their three children Jordyn (10), Ethan (8) and Claire (5). Michael and Heidi are involved in a number of local charities including NJ SEEDS, and a Child Advocacy Center. While not working, Michael loves traveling with his family, following Wisconsin athletics, and coaching his children’s baseball and basketball teams.
Bonnie Bogen – Appointed: 2015
(BA 1976, Child Development/Early Childhood Education) Bonnie was drawn to working with children with special needs while working on her bachelor’s degree at UW. After graduation, she acquired her special education certification at UW in the department of Behavioral Disabilities; she then went on to earn a Masters Degree in Special Education from National Louis University while living and working in Chicago. Bonnie’s teaching career initially included teaching children with learning disabilities and behavior disorders. Her passion for working with preschool age children and their families led her to the field of Early Childhood Special Education, where she has been a teacher, classroom consultant, and autism specialist for over 30 years. While supporting parents and facilitating parent education and support groups, Bonnie earned a parent coaching certificate from the Adler Institute. She opened her own parent coaching company, Positive Parenting; Sensible Solutions in 2010. Her belief in the importance of strengthening the family in order to make parenting a more rewarding experience drives her work. She is a published Author of two curriculum guides for teachers. After many years away from the University of Wisconsin, Bonnie was reintroduced to SoHE by Dean Shim. A tour of the new building, a visit to the lab pre-school and a presentation on 4W along with other new initiatives provided her with the incentive to join the Board of Visitors.
Brenda Chamberlain – Appointed: 2013
(BS 2002, Interior Design) Brenda Chamberlain has more than a decade of experience leading and managing an organization to unprecedented levels of success, developing and supporting a successful staff, and cultivating and managing thousands of business relationships. Brenda’s expertise include financial management, fundraising, strategic planning and implementation, operational readiness, leadership coaching, volunteer management, and corporate giving and volunteerism. Under Brenda’s leadership as Executive Director, the DC nonprofit Horton’s Kids received numerous accolades, including the Washington Post Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management and recognition from First Lady Michelle Obama in a 2012 episode of television show Restaurant Impossible. Earlier in her career, Brenda worked on aging-in-place issues and designed buildings to better accommodate elderly and people with disabilities. Brenda lives in Madison, Wisconsin where she enjoys serving on numerous boards, volunteering in the community, and chasing her two toddlers. She holds a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University and a B.S. in Environment, Textiles, and Design from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Bridget Coffing – Appointed: 2014
Bridget Coffing has more than 35 years of communications experience including public affairs and issues management, marketing communications and public relations for both major corporations and public relations and advertising agencies. She most recently served as Senior Vice President, Corporate Relations for McDonald’s Corporation. In this role, Coffing was the company’s Chief Communications Officer and reported to McDonald’s Chief Executive Officer. As a member of the Senior Leadership Team, she oversaw the Global Government and Public Affairs department; Global External Communications, encompassing media relations, public relations, marketing communications, and global digital communications; and the Global System Communications group, including internal communications, meetings and events, creative services and the McDonald’s archives. A 30-year veteran of McDonald’s, Coffing led a global team of company communicators to invigorate dialogue with employees, international media, stakeholders, customers, and the NGO community. She helped shape strategic Brand communications to strengthen the company’s work to make a difference as a corporate citizen.Coffing led the McDonald’s Global Communications Council, driving system-wide communications alignment, and the Worldwide Corporate Relations Council, helping facilitate issues preparedness and crisis management. In her previous role as Vice President of Global External Communications, Coffing developed communications strategies and initiatives to reinforce McDonald’s commitment to children’s well-being, Ronald McDonald House Charities, marketing leadership, sports and entertainment alliances, global field communications, and worldwide consumer brand activities including McDonald’s FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games sponsorships.Coffing joined McDonald’s in 1985 from Golin/Harris Communications, where she specialized in food and consumer marketing. Coffing previously worked at Stephan and Brady Advertising and Regal Ware, Inc. concentrating on retail promotions, reputation management and marketing oriented communications.
Coffing is the recipient of numerous top industry awards and McDonald’s recognition, including the McDonald’s Presidents’ Award, which is annually awarded to the organization’s top one percent of employees, and McDonald’s Team and Circle of Excellence Awards. She is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations, the Arthur Page Society and The Seminar; a Board member of the Public Relations Society of America, Chicago chapter; and the Board of Visitors of the University of Wisconsin School of Human Ecology.
Jennifer Cyra – Appointed: 2018
(BS 1987, Retailing) is a global executive leader and business transformation consultant in the retail industry. While attending the University of Wisconsin, Jennifer was a House Fellow in Witte Hall and after graduation, began her career at Marshall Field’s in Chicago. She held roles as Senior Vice President at Office Depot and OfficeMax, Vice President-GMM at Sears Holdings and has extensive international experience in Asia, Europe and Canada. A running and fitness enthusiast and a champion of diversity and inclusion with a passion for advancing women in leadership, Jennifer lives in Chicago and is an executive mentor for Women Unlimited, where she also serves on the Board of Directors for Illinois Diversity Council and Presence Health Northwest Community Leadership Board.
Jean De Vita – Appointed: 2015
(BS 1970, Home Economics Journalism) has always believed that alums from her bachelors program could fit a very wide range of careers. Hers included consumer nutrition education, publicity, media relations, and regional planning projects in Milwaukee, WI, and Norfolk, VA, before earning an MBA in Marketing from the University of Memphis in 1980. As a product manager for a major orthopedic implant and instrument manufacturer in Memphis, TN, she shepherded products from inception through research, design, production, promotion, and distribution, traveling the US and parts of Canada and Europe. Writing and planning were always strong interests, so after returning to Wisconsin, she worked with a medical research foundation in communications and planning. She then began a long relationship with the UW-Stevens Point Small Business Development Center, guiding entrepreneurs in developing business and marketing plans tailored to their needs. She also led a CEO roundtable for mid-size businesses before returning home to Milwaukee with her husband Bob after 31 years away. In retirement, she finds a great match for her passion at Milwaukee’s Riverwest Food Pantry where she serves on the board of directors and leads program initiatives in nutrition and wellness, helping work toward their mission to relieve hunger, change lives, and build community.
Tony Hallada – Appointed: 2016
(BS 1989, Consumer Science) is the CEO of CliftonLarsonAllen Wealth Advisors, LLC. Tony’s clients benefit from a close, personal relationship with him and objective advice aimed at getting them where they want to go in life. He has a broad range of experience in the capital markets and the financial services industry, and is passionate about offering boutique investment strategies. During his more than 20-year tenure, Tony has also served as vice president of Nuveen Investments and John G. Kinnard & Company. While growing up, he worked in all facets of his family’s closely held Ford and International Harvester dealership. By the time he graduated from college, he was a shareholder and managing the front end of the dealership. Tony earned a degree in Consumer Science from the UW-Madison School of Human Ecology and is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Business Executive Management Program. He holds FINRA Series 7, 63, 65, and 24 licenses, and Minnesota Life and Health Insurance licenses. In 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 he was named a Five Star Wealth Manager by Twin Cities Business. Tony and his wife Teresa reside in Medina, Minnesota with their two children. Tony is an active church member, coaches his son’s baseball team, volunteers at his children’s schools, and finds personal fulfillment in mentoring kids, especially those who have been adopted.
Su Hilty – Appointed: 2012
(BS 1969, Retailing) began her career at Bloomingdale’s, eventually moving to Gucci and then to Liz Claiborne Accessories where she served as vice president of marketing. Su next became vice president of marketing for 225 Fifth Avenue, The NY Gift Building, a wholesale mart specializing in gift and home products. When the building was sold, Su joined Merchandise Mart Properties to head marketing efforts for 7 W New York, from which she retired in 2011. Now Su is giving back to her organizations and associations that have impacted her 40+ year career.
Mary Jaeger – Appointed: 2012
(BS 1978, Textile and Apparel Design; MS 1980, Related Art) draws on years of study and work in Asia. She is an entrepreneur well known for her timeless designs using wool manipulation and shibori dyeing techniques. Jaeger received Japan’s Upcoming Designer Award for collections that bridged the fashion and kimono industries. She was also honored by UW-Madison with the Distinguished Alumni Award. In addition to UW-Madison degrees, Jaeger has degrees from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York and Nihon Senshoku Gakuen in Kyoto. Jaeger designed for Mary McFadden at Jack Mulqueen (New York City), Renown (Tokyo), and Shiho (Kyoto, Paris), among others, before starting her independent label, MARY JAEGER. She exhibits internationally with collections available at her NYC gallery-showroom and fine stores worldwide. Visit her at maryjaeger.com
Yolanda Jenkins – Appointed: 2012
(BA 1967, L&S) has pursued her interest in young children’s learning and the tools to enhance their learning throughout her academic and professional career. She earned a M.Ed. from Boston University in special education and received a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of California-Berkeley. As a doctoral student she began to examine the potential of technology for young children’s learning. Dr. Jenkins started her career in educational technology at the Atari Education Foundation and then moved on to establish the preschool program at Apple Computer, identifying appropriate uses of computer technology in early childhood education. Based on her work at Apple, she was asked to become a member of the technology committee that developed the policy for developmentally appropriate uses of technology for the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Dr. Jenkins continued her work in educational technology for IBM’s K-12 education department and as the director of the usability testing laboratory for early learning software at Compaq Computer Corporation. She relocated, in 1998, to become the director of the Learning Systems department at BBN, Inc., a research and development technology company in Cambridge, Massachusetts. When Dr. Jenkins returned to California, she entered the nonprofit sector as director of Starting Points, a research and policy development project that supported early childhood services in the city and county of San Francisco. In 2006, she shifted focus to the critical issue of minority under-representation by managing a research project to increase minority representation in the health professions in California at the School of Public Health, University of California-Berkeley. Dr. Jenkins has served as an independent consultant and as a board member for the Computer Learning Foundation, as well as the chair and a member of the board of directors for Head Start of San Francisco. She remains active by volunteering at organizations where she can make a meaningful contribution and by studying current areas of interest such as brain research, genealogy, and effective communications.
Phillip Levy – Appointed: 2016
(BS 1967, L&S), IIDA (International Interior Design Association) is celebrating his 24th year in business as an interiordeisnger with an indepdendent desigh studio and furniture showroom. As a graduate of UW-Madison, Phillip continued his design studies at the famous Art Center, Los Angeles. Having worked in the industry for many years, Phillip brings over 35 years of nationwide experience to his craft. He is a professional member of IIDA, having served as State of Wisconsin Chapter President for three years. He has received many honors and awards, as well as being published in numerous local and some national magazines and newspapers. Madison projects have included country clubs and University of Wisconsin projects. Phillip and his team finished the interior design of the Olin House (Chancellor’s residence) in the fall of 2008. The residential projects are numberous and range in location from Madison to other parts of Wisconsin, and include California, Florida and Arizona.
Mr. Levy has served the Madison community for many decades in serving as a director on the boards of Madison Downtown Rotary, United Way, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Madison Opera, Madison Youth Symphony, Repertory Theater, State MS Society, Madison Symphony Orchestra, Civic Center Endowment, and Madison Chamber Orchestra. Phillip also serves on the University of Wisconsin Board of Visitors – English Department. His investment in decades of professional experience ensures a true commitment to the art of design, high standards of quality and workmanship, and enjoyment of an honest and personal designer-client relationship.
David Mancl – Appointed: 2012
(EMBA, 2004) pioneered and serves as director of the first U.S. Office of Financial Literacy within the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. The office educates and promotes financial literacy to youth and adults. It received a 2009 National Top 50 – Innovations in Government award from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Mancl was appointed by President George W. Bush to the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy in 2008. In addition, Mancl is the founder and leader of the National Institute of Financial and Economic Literacy, nationally recognized as a teacher training best practice for economic and financial literacy. He is also the founding president of the first-ever State Coalition of the Year, Wisconsin JumpStart Coalition on Economic and Personal Financial Education for Youth. Mancl was instrumental in creating the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards for Personal Financial Literacy, making Wisconsin the first state in the nation to develop content and performance standards at the elementary and secondary school levels. He also leads a statewide campaign to promote financial literacy entitled Money Smart Week Wisconsin in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, held annually since 2006. Before joining the Department of Financial Institutions, Mancl worked in several positions for the Wisconsin State Assembly. His undergraduate degree is from St. Norbert’s College.
Andrea Pease – Appointed: 2018
Marjee Righeimer – Appointed: 2010
Marjee Righeimer is the Chief Encouragement Officer at Mastering Life with Marjee, a Minneapolis-based consulting firm. In her business, Marjee works with companies providing sales training and guidance, leadership training and mentoring, and one on one coaching. Marjee has designed and implemented corporate mentoring programs for more than ten years. She completed her coaching training with Coaches Training Institute (CTI). Marjee’s introduction to the power of mentoring and coaching came while working at Menttium Corporation. Her job here gave her the opportunity to do what she loves best—build meaningful relationships. Menttium designs corporate internal and cross-company mentoring programs to help organizations strengthen talent and meet their strategic business goals. She led the company’s global sales and client experience efforts. She was responsible for sales, new business development, and account management. Pepsi, Allstate, Grainger, BP, Verizon, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and many other Fortune 500 companies were some of her clients. She came to Menttium following a varied career path, including positions with Target, healthcare providers, and a nonprofit organization. During the 1990’s she was co-owner of the 13th largest women-owned business in Minnesota. As CEO of the Minnesota State Horticultural Society, Righeimer merged a personal interest and expertise in gardening with her professional experience in all areas of management and leadership. Marjee is motivated by helping others make a difference in their lives. Her colleagues describe her as “a relationship maestro, a great communicator, tenacious, and an effective influencer and collaborator. She inspires trust, and delivers the best outcome in every situation. She sees the assets of others and taps into them graciously and professionally. Marjee sees the world from the customer’s perspective. She leverages her network to cause action.” Righeimer accepted the opportunity to serve on the Board of Visitors as a way to give back to SoHE, because she believes strongly in its mission and purpose. Marjee is married to Bill and lives in Prior Lake, MN. She helped found the Prior Lake Savage Area Educational Foundation (now the Laker Foundation) and served on its Board of Directors for many years.
Rory Smith – Appointed: 2013
(BS 2006, Interior Design) participated in Professor Wei Dong’s study abroad program in China, and was a member of the UW Marching Band. Rory is the Senior Manager of Store Format for Walgreens at its headquarters in Deerfield, Illinois, leading a team of design professionals in translating business strategy into customer experiences. He began his Walgreens career as a store planner helping to design and open hundreds of new stores, and in 2011 became Manager of Store Merchandising, guiding the merchandise planning and presentation efforts for a nationwide flagship program before accepting his current position. Rory lives with his wife and two sons in Wheeling, Illinois.
Trey Sprinkman- Appointed: 2017
(BS 1996, Consumer Science) after graduating high school Sprinkman joined the United States Army and was stationed in Frankfurt Germany. While in Germany he was deployed to the Persian Gulf and is a Desert Storm Veteran. Upon his honorable discharge from the US Army he began his four year education at the UW. He worked for Ohmeda Medical, now part of GE Healthcare for 13 years in various sales roles. In 2010 he and his wife Shelly started Sprinkman Real Estate a boutique residential brokerage. He is an active volunteer and philanthropist giving back to the Madison community. He currently serves as President of the Maple Bluff County Club. He served as past co-chair of the Friends of Clean Lakes Alliance an organization that helps reduce phosphorous in the Yahara Lakes chain. He currently is an active board member in the Madison Downtown Rotary and participates on an advisory council for the proposed Madison Public Market. Sprinkman is married to Shelly H. Sprinkman and has three children and one Labrador retriever.
Mary Strohmaier – Appointed: 2013
(BS 1980, Retailing) is a retired retail and manufacturing executive. Mary began her career at Dayton’s in Minneapolis and then became a buyer for Gimbel’s in Milwaukee. She moved to Chicago and held senior executive positions with Marshall Fields and Mark Shale. When her daughter was born she moved to the manufacturing side of the business and was a senior executive at Everitt Knitting and Jockey International. Mary and her husband live in Brookfield where she is active in the community. She has held a number of positions at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts including President of the Board. Mary is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Milwaukee Art Museum where she serves as the Chair of the Education Committee.
Barbara Tensfeldt – Appointed: 2014
(BS 1970, Home Economics Education) after growing up on a dairy farm outside of Columbus , WI Tensfeldt began a 20 year career serving 4-H Youth organizations in Wisconsin concluding her career as Wisconsin 4-H Foundation Executive Director. In retirement, she began her extensive volunteer commitment as advisor to the UW Association of Women in Agriculture Alumni for ten years before directing her attention to the Attic Angel Association where she served as chair and to the Olbrich Botanical Gardens Board as President, receiving the U.S. President’s Call to Service Award in 2013. She continues her high-volume volunteer commitment as member of the Helen Allen Textile Collection Development Committee, as an Olbrich Botanical Gardens volunteer and a member of the Attic Angel Association. She is a UW-Extension Master Gardener and a member of PEO. Tensfeldt is married to Robert W. “Bill” Tensfeldt.
Kay Villa – Appointed: 2013
(BS 1979, Interior Design and Related Art – Textile Design) holds a Master’s degree in textile engineering and science from North Carolina State University (NCSU) and postgraduate doctorate credits from the University of Maryland and NCSU. Her field of expertise is product and consumer safety within the fiber, textile, apparel, and retail industries. She has professional experiences including: the marketing of textile products to the design community; a textile technologist at the US Department of Commerce/National Institute of Standards and Technology / Building and Fire Research Laboratory; the Assistant Director for the American Textile Manufacturers Institute trade association; instructor at the University of Maryland – Fire Protection Engineering Department and with standardization organizations ANSI and ASTM; and as a private sector consultant with Kay M. Villa Consulting. Kay was the Chairman of ASTM’s D 13 Textiles Committee from 2000-2005, and has also served on the Board of Directors for the USDA Cotton Board, ASTM International, and the School of Fashion Design (Boston). Kay is semi-retired and volunteers at the Bergstrom Mahler Museum and for several gardening organizations. Kay and her husband live in Neenah, WI.
John Zeratsky – Appointed: 2016
(BS 2005, Family & Consumer Journalism) is a design partner at GV and the co-author of Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days. Before joining GV, he was a design lead at YouTube and an early employee of FeedBurner, which Google acquired in 2007. John has written about design and productivity for Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Wired, and Time. Originally from rural Wisconsin, John now lives in San Francisco with his wife. He studied journalism at UW-Madison, and graduated with a degree from the School of Human Ecology. He’s working with the faculty, students, and staff of SoHE to bring a deeper and more practical understanding of design to the school.