Engaging influences on Madison
Photos shot at Eno Vino Downtown at the AC Hotel Madison Downtown and at the Overture Center for the Arts.
Photographs by Todd Maughan
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From the pages of In Business magazine.
Madison is a blessed community in many respects, but perhaps the greatest blessing is the thousands of people who are engaged in the community.
Whether that’s part of the job or part of extraordinary citizenship, we established the annual Most Influential feature to honor people who make a difference. Inside these pages, we profile 15 people who have demonstrated their influence in profound ways during the past year.
As you read the profiles, we’re sure you’ll agree that Greater Madison is very fortunate to have their engagement and their influence.
Impact for HIRE
As a behind-the-scenes leader of the United Way’s HIRE Education Employment Initiative, Angela Jones has been instrumental in helping people find family-sustaining, career-building jobs.
How instrumental? According to a 2016 report issued by American Family Insurance, as of the fourth quarter of last year, 685 people, including 187 from the local Literacy Network, had enrolled in the HIRE program. Of that total, 558 had landed a new job, including 109 that paid at least $15 per hour. In addition, 289 of that total were low-income parents and 420
of them were people of color. Not bad for an initiative that began in 2013.
In addition to the Literacy network, the initiative’s other partner agencies are Centro Hispano, the Latino Academy of Workforce Development, the Madison Area Urban Ministry, the Urban League, and the YWCA. Even with these partners, connecting people who need jobs with companies who need to fill them isn’t easy. With HIRE, area nonprofits and businesses communicate and collaborate to reach the goal of providing stable employment. Businesses share the kind of skills they are looking for, and nonprofits tailor education and job-skills training to job seekers.
As the United Way’s director of community impact, Jones has played an instrumental role in the win-win-win nature of HIRE — the three winners being job seekers who lack internet access and cannot use online applications, companies looking to upgrade their workforce and improve their onboarding programs and corporate culture, and nonprofits that serve as enablers of a more diversified workforce.
Hero for Homeless
Jackson Fonder might not be in the public eye very often, but the president and CEO of Catholic Charities continues to influence change for the better. As a leader of one of the largest charitable organizations in Greater Madison, one that provides human services to Dane County and the surrounding 10 counties of south-central Wisconsin, he is in a unique position to serve.
In 2016, an opportunity to make a difference in the community arose and Fonder led the development of a day center where homeless individuals could turn for help and resources. Not only has he personally traveled to other successful homeless day centers to learn best practices, he also has met with local organizations and Madison area nonprofits to bring them on board so that, as a community, Madison can offer the best, most effective place for homeless people to gain a sense of caring and support.
Renovation on the building, previously occupied by the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, began in May. All indications are that the homeless day resource center, now named The Beacon, will open in early October. The center will serve individuals, families, and children, and provide 100–150 people per day with needed amenities like showers, laundry, restrooms, phone service, and private family spaces. It will link guests to much-needed resources like housing assistance, mental health and addiction counseling, and assistance with obtaining identification.
Fonder has taken on this project and turned this vision into a reality. Currently, Catholic Charities is lining up nonprofit partners, hiring staff, recruiting volunteers, and enlisting fundraising support.
Smiles All Around
Curtis Henderson has been getting a lot of buzz this year. Not the kind of buzz you hear from a drill at the dentist’s office, but the kind you get while earning grants to fund outreach to economically disadvantaged people. In this case, the outreach provides preventive dental care to those, especially the poor, who would otherwise go without it.
Poor oral health can negatively impact our overall health, which is why Henderson’s organization, More Smiles Wisconsin (formerly the Madison Dental Initiative), has been raising both awareness and money. One grant will help special needs patients who require general anesthesia, as well those who experience oral pain but cannot afford a dentist. Another grant will ensure the construction of a new clinic at the Allied Family Center (with the Boy’s & Girl’s Club), with
an anticipated opening after Thanksgiving.
More Smiles Wisconsin has made some headway in becoming
a hybrid model utilizing both volunteer and paid dental health professionals, and the organization is poised to double the number of patients it serves. Such efforts have gained support from elected officials. Republican state lawmaker Kathy Bernier is championing legislation to expand the facilities where dental hygienists can work independently.
Access to dental sealants in the schools has improved the oral health of school-age children, but there is a lack of dental services for Medicaid enrollees. Given that dental diseases are nearly 100% preventable, the work of Henderson and More Smiles Wisconsin could go a long way to improving overall health.