Spheres of influence: 2015 most influential people in Greater Madison
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Richard Davidson: Meditation Maverick
When you’re the most well-respected researcher in your field, and you’re a friend and confidant of the Dalai Lama, and you’ve already been recognized by Time magazine as one of the most influential people in the world, your influence is hard to question.
Richard Davidson is a renowned neuroscientist and a leading expert and researcher on the impact of meditation and other contemplative practices on the human brain. These practices are gaining more traction as a valued business tool, and Davidson, founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, located in UW–Madison’s Waisman Center, has been explaining why as a sought-after expert and international speaker.
A New York Times best-selling author and a regular on the media circuit, Davidson has published hundreds of scientific papers, edited 14 books, and preached the gospel of meditation on programs such as Nightline on ABC and Charlie Rose: The Week on PBS.
From his groundbreaking work in studying the impact of emotion on the brain to his method of promoting “human flourishing,” Davidson is designing models for overcoming anxiety disorders. It has brought him honors such as the Mani Bhaumik Award, given by UCLA for advancing the understanding of the brain and the conscious mind in healing.
Judith Faulkner: Epic Entrepreneur
First, Judith Faulkner created a charitable foundation to inherit most of her stock in Epic.
Then, as if creating the Epic Heritage Foundation for the benefit of health care organizations were not enough, she recently made an enduring commitment to Giving Pledge, which welcomed Faulkner and nine other pledge signatories to a list that includes Giving Pledge founders Bill & Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. Since Giving Pledge is a global initiative that features people committed to donating the bulk of their wealth to philanthropic causes, the founder and CEO of Epic fits right in.
Not bad for a lady who in 1979 started a medical software company in the basement of her home. An excerpt from her Giving Pledge letter says everything you need to know about Faulkner’s reasoning: “Many years ago, I asked my young children what two things they needed from their parents. They said ‘food and money.’ I told them ‘roots and wings.’ My goal in pledging 99% of my wealth to philanthropy is to help others with roots — food, warmth, shelter, healthcare, education — so they too can have wings.”
Fortunately for greater Madison, the company Faulkner founded, which has grown into Dane County’s largest private-sector employer, continues to have wings of its own.
Otto Gebhardt: High-Rise Developer
If Otto Gebhardt keeps developing at this pace, he might create a new universe. Two years after opening the Constellation in the 700 block of East Washington Avenue, Gebhardt Development is now building a Galaxie in the 800 block and is pursuing plans to develop the south side of the block, as well.
By Thanksgiving, nearby residents should be able to purchase turkey and all the fixings at the Galaxie development’s first installment, a new Festival Foods grocery. The rest of the Galaxie — a mix of multifamily housing, retail, and commercial space —will be ready in the spring of 2016.
Gebhardt’s latest gambit for 140,000 square feet of mixed-use space across East Wash from the Galaxie would become the home of StartingBlock, the proposed entrepreneurial hub where innovation can flourish. It would also be the site of T Presents Madison, an independent concert and event promotion company, plus a 1,500-seat performing venue, professional offices, and educational and retail spaces.
Developing East Wash obviously is personal for Gebhardt, who grew up in the nearby Orton Park neighborhood and went to work at the tender age of 7 in the family business, then known as Gebhardt Realty.
Frank Kaminsky: Unstoppable Tank
Frank Kaminsky is living proof that you don’t have to be a McDonald’s All American to make an impact. By the time this article is published, the identity of Kaminsky’s next team, an NBA team, will be known. Whoever selected him is not only getting a self-made man, they are getting a player who really gets with the program.
In an age of one-and-done college stars, Kaminsky stands tall, all seven feet of him, as the perfect illustration of Coach Bo Ryan’s recruit-and-develop program. Kaminsky could have entered the NBA draft following his breakthrough junior season, but decided to stay for his senior season. In the process, he became college basketball’s “Player of the Year,” leading UW to a second consecutive Final Four, including an appearance in the 2015 National Championship game.
That would have sounded preposterous when “Frank the Tank” enrolled in the fall of 2011. His versatile inside-outside game would blossom during his junior year, and by the time he crumpled on the court following UW’s heartbreaking loss to Duke in the title game, he had led the Badgers to a remarkable 115-34 record, including tournament games, during his collegiate career.