Engaging influences on Madison

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Barry Alvarez

Lombardi-Like Impact

One man who definitely does not fly below the radar is Barry Alvarez, athletic director for the University of Wisconsin. Every Wisconsin fan knows the story of how he turned around Wisconsin’s once moribund football program — three Rose Bowl championships and all — but he’s now been the UW’s athletic director for more than a decade and the school’s overall athletic program is consistently ranked among the nation’s best.

Case in point: The Learfield Directors’ Cup honors institutions that maintain a broad-based athletic program — both men’s and women’s programs — and schools receive points based on their NCAA finishes in 20 sports — 10 men’s and 10 women’s. Thanks to another top 10 showing this year (No. 5 nationally after all winter sports titles were factored in), UW has ranked in the top 10 among Division I schools at the end of the winter season 16 times in the previous 23 years.

Under Alvarez, Wisconsin has been in the top 20 after the final standings five times. Clearly, the sporting momentum continues, and Madisonians don’t have to rely on the big three — men’s football, basketball, and hockey — for an entertaining night of sports. Women’s hockey and volleyball are among the UW’s nationally ranked contenders, as well.

Alvarez has done for Madison and Wisconsin what Vince Lombardi did for Green Bay and Wisconsin — after we had reached rock bottom, he enabled us to discover our own possibilities.

Jack Salzwedel

Cultural Insurer

When it comes to giving back to the community, American Family Insurance has taken a back seat to no other corporate entity, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take advantage of opportunities to raise its philanthropic game.

Under CEO and Chairman Jack Salzwedel, “Am Fam” once again sponsored the PGA Champions Tour American Family Insurance Championship in June at University Ridge. The second annual version of this golf event featured the Championship debut of Steve Stricker. In conjunction with the golf tournament, Am Fam stepped up to secure the appearance of entertainer Darius Rucker, who performed June 23 at Breese Stevens Field. Rucker gained fame as the guitarist and lead singer for the 1990s Grammy Award-winning group Hootie and the Blowfish, and his appearance is indicative of the kind of acts Madison can draw.

Under Salzwedel, a native of DeForest who began his career as a claims adjuster, American Family is also contributing to Milwaukee’s and Wisconsin’s musical legacy with its sponsorship of a new amphitheater at Summerfest. In addition, Am Fam continues its legacy of entrepreneurial support, emerging as a partner in the development of the East Washington Avenue corridor with the Spark building, which broke ground earlier this year. The Spark will not only be the new home of StartingBlock Madison, but also serve as an entrepreneurial hub at a time when Wisconsin must spark new business formation.

Charlie Goldstone

Artistic Visionary

As the president of Frank Productions Concerts LLC, Charlie Goldstone has an artistic vision to elevate Madison’s reputation as a must-play destination for top-tier artists. He views Frank Productions’ work to strengthen Madison’s nightlife as an integral part of the city’s strategy of attracting and retaining young professionals.

With 2017 attractions such as Boston at Breese Stevens Field, Diana Krall and Bonnie Raitt at Overture Hall, and Boz Scaggs, Joe Jackson, and Kansas at the Capitol Theater, he’s well on his way to creating the kind of music scene that appeals to young and old alike.

Founded in 1965, Madison-based Frank Productions and its affiliated companies provide services for live entertainment events throughout the United States. The third-generation, family-owned business produces hundreds of concerts each year, selling tickets for national artists like Metallica and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, as well as regional and local artists.

As part of that family business, Goldstone already has done some heavy Halloween lifting by preserving the once out-of-control “Freakfest” with designed stage sites and crowd-safety plans. He also organized the first-ever concert at Breese Stevens Field featuring the Avett Brothers.

Neither Goldstone nor his colleagues at Frank Productions can wait to showcase Frank Productions’ new Sylvee performance venue. Ground has now broken on the venue’s future home on East Washington Avenue, and with 50,000 square feet of space, Sylvee should be one grand girl at which to stage (and watch) a show.


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