Madison execs wish big for 2019

In lieu of New Year’s resolutions, our Executive of the Year award winners have some wishes they’d like to see come true for their businesses and the community in 2019.

Madison is a beautiful and fascinating place to live, but it’s not perfect — at least not yet. As we look ahead at all 2019 has to offer, we checked in with some of Greater Madison’s top execs — who also happen to be winners of our 2019 Executive of the Year awards — to see what tops their wish lists for their businesses/organizations, and the entire region in the new year.

Kate Perleberg, CFO, RISE Wisconsin

“An overarching priority for RISE in 2019 is to continue to build and develop services and organizational practices that promote and reflect equity and inclusion, and that we are intentionally responsive to the needs of children and families in our community.

“‘Meeting People Where They Are At’ is another priority for RISE in 2019. We are invested in developing Peer and Parent Peer Support positions in which people with lived experience can provide support and advocacy and use shared experience to positively impact outcomes for those receiving services. We believe the community thrives best when individuals and families are having their needs met in a welcoming and comfortable environment that reflects them culturally, and where they are seen as experts in their own lives.

“Despite a growing awareness of mental health needs in our community, there continues to be a stigma associated with mental health. This, along with other barriers such as long waitlists, access to reliable and cost-effective transportation, and lack of funding for early intervention services, results in many individuals not receiving the services they so desperately need. In an effort to address these barriers, RISE will be expanding our Home Based Therapeutic Services (HBTS) program to Madison’s north side in 2019. Partnering with early childhood (birth to five years old) home visiting programs in the Northside Early Childhood Zone, HBTS aims to provide trauma-informed, early intervention mental health services to families by meeting with them regularly in their homes during vulnerable periods in their lives.”

Dan Rashke, CEO, TASC

“Improve the health, wealth, and well-being of our customers, employees, and community. TASC lives this mission every year, but in 2019 we’re bringing to market a new technology system that will transform the benefits administration industry. We’re excited to roll out this new model, so we can help businesses work smarter and faster.

“Three Dane County initiatives have advanced to the final round of a challenge issued by Schmidt Futures. While TASC is championing the We Care for Dane Kids initiative, we believe that any of the three will have a significant social and economic impact on our community.

“Through The Greater Give, I’ll continue supporting The Everyday Philanthropist Act, a bipartisan bill that aims to democratize giving for all. Whether as an independent idea or tucked into another bill with the 116th Congress, we’re looking forward to pre-tax giving becoming legislation.”

Tom Spitz (CEO) and Dave Fink (president), Settlers bank

“For municipalities to actively and outwardly support business growth and development. This would include rules of engagement for businesses to be more transparent and more evenly enforced. Communities thrive because of the companies that reside there. The more integrated those relationships are between the local government, the people, and the businesses that are operating within their borders, the more success everyone will enjoy.

“With all things being equal, a stable interest rate environment would be a big positive. When interest rates remain stable, companies and consumers borrow more money and in turn put that money back into the economy by spending it. This stability encourages business growth, which puts more product and services into the economy that consumers then purchase.

“To see news headlines that focus on the great things going on locally, nationally, and internationally instead of highlighting the political rhetoric and constant fighting between political parties that fill our screens today. Imagine the impact of hearing about all the things getting done vs. what’s not getting done could have on both parties. If what we’re not accomplishing doesn’t make it to the news cycle, maybe both sides would focus more on what is getting done

“For Settlers bank, to continue our focus on our customers and our associates. We are positioned to have another great year in 2019. We’d like everyone at the bank to continue that feeling of pride and ownership in our client’s success, as well as the bank’s success.”



Matthew Gonnering, CEO, Widen Enterprises

“My wish list for Widen includes new customers to serve (this is always on my wish list); setting our organizational development in motion by establishing a formal structure of matching the potential of our people with increasingly complex and changing market needs; and providing guidance to individuals and teams to make good decisions while maintaining our freedom-centered structure at scale without the need for hierarchical approvals. As Benjamin Franklin wrote, ‘Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.’

“I’d also like us to prepare to enter a new market by helping solve problems related to managing product information, and to throttle our European presence to earn more customers in that region using our outstanding team in London.

“For the Madison business community, I wish for increases in employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. I would love to see demand rise to a point where employment agencies (e.g., Community Support Network, are unable to accommodate the demand and need to recruit more families to participate. I’d love to see businesses build to 5 percent of their workforce having some type of developmental disability (e.g., Down syndrome, cerebral palsy). Specifically in 2019, I would love to see 100 new jobs created for the role of popcorn manager. Call Deb at CSN, (608) 620-3010, and she’ll help with employment while you build an internal process to accommodate fresh popcorn delivered to your desk. It will have far-reaching positive impacts for many, including you. More here.”

Henry Sanders, Jr., CEO, Madison365 and Selfless Ambition

“My wish for 2019 for Selfless Ambition is to continue in our partnership with the Madison Metropolitan School District to lead and coordinate putting food pantries in our schools. We have over 800 homeless kids and around 11,000 kids on free and reduced lunch. Our goal is to make sure students can focus on their studies, not their hunger.

“My goal for Madison365 is to continue to expand our platform statewide. We also plan to focus on building our Wisconsin Leadership Summit and establishing the Wisconsin Leadership Council to help with workforce development and human capital by focusing on attracting and retaining executives, current leaders, and emerging leaders of color in Wisconsin.”

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