Engaging influences on Madison
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Asset to Community
James Tye, executive director of the Clean Lakes Alliance, refers to Joanna Burish as his “key collaborator” on Frozen Assets, which has been transformed from a small fundraising event into a weekend-long destination extravaganza at the Edgewater. This past February, the event drew 6,000 people to the venue, raising nearly $170,000 for the vital cause of clean lakes.
Burish has helped build Frozen Assets into one of the most anticipated networking events in Madison, and in so doing has helped the Alliance make gradual but unmistakable progress in diverting phosphorous from local lakes — 13,600 pounds in 2016 alone.
A financial advisor and partner with Northwestern Mutual, Burish works behind the scenes to help get things done and give back to the community. Frozen Assets is her most notable project, but her admirers describe her as a selfless promoter of women in business and the very definition of a business connector.
In 2011, Burish founded a group of female business leaders known as “The Brauds” with a goal of mentoring, empowering, and inspiring each other. The group caught the attention of other women who wanted to be part of it, and last year she launched a second group, The Brauds 2.0, as part of what’s now known as The Brauds Network. Just as she has helped create the vision to take the Clean Lakes Alliance national via Clean Lakes America, one of her dreams is to take The Brauds national.
Burish also has been working on a book about mentoring and coaching women to improve their salary negotiating skills, and her next vision is for women to overcome societal expectations and start asking for — and getting — the equal pay they deserve.
Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce President Zach Brandon would have made this list even if he hadn’t received the Distinguished Service Award from the Wisconsin National Guard Association. His work to boost entrepreneurship here and statewide are reason enough to single him out, but having won the Wisconsin National Guard Association’s highest civilian honor, he’s being recognized for his efforts to base the next-generation F-35A aircraft at Madison’s Truax Field.
In so doing, Brandon, the Chamber, business leaders, and elected officials support the mission of the 115th th Fighter Wing, and its 1,200 airmen, through their work with the Badger Air Community Council. They also support the community because landing the F-35A at Truax would be an economic boost for Greater Madison.
In January, after the Air Force announced that Truax is one of five finalist sites for the F-35A (two bases will receive the next-generation jets), the Chamber launched Together Truax, the next step of an initiative designed to support the effort to base the F-35A at Truax Field. The initiative not only features ongoing advocacy, it also includes a new website, TogetherTruax.com, and Facebook and Twitter pages.
Meanwhile, Brandon remains focused on the economy and entrepreneurism. Thanks in part to the Chamber’s “Access Agenda,” Madison is widely recognized as an innovation leader in advanced industries. Earlier this year, the city was listed as one of four technology hubs in an Atlantic Council report titled “Keeping America’s Innovative Edge,” joining the San Francisco Bay Area, Boulder/Denver, Colo., and Austin, Texas.
In a city facing concerns over gun violence, gangs, and a persistent achievement gap, Madison’s low-income Truax neighborhood boasts higher graduation rates, fewer issues with violence, and
a vibrant and racially diverse neighborhood. Much of this can be credited to Tom Moen, executive director of the East Madison
In 2016, the EMCC celebrated 50 years of service, and for 42 of those years Moen has been at the helm. EMCC’s focus on education, social responsibility, and achievement has had a profound impact on hundreds of families. The center offers a range of services for all ages, from preschoolers to senior citizens, including a weekly food pantry, after-school and Saturday drop-in services for youth, Madison’s only no-cost summer camp for families with incomes below
the poverty line, and a host of recreational activities.
The center operates six days a week, providing meals, tutoring, and care for children all day Saturday and during critical afternoon and evening hours. It’s the only center in the area that stays open until 8 p.m., providing valuable after-school care for working parents. More importantly, graduation rates among EMCC youth have increased from 50% to 90%.
In 2016, the Community Development Authority renovated 28 town houses for homeless families in Truax Park, and the EMCC provided numerous resources for these families, including food
and household items and educational programs for children.
Much of this is due to its low-key leader. With the help of a staff of three full-time employees, plus dozens of volunteers, Moan has created a community center that serves as a model for the county.