Collaborative Projects

LDA’s capstone provides a real-life, hands-on experience

Each Leadership Development Academy participant participates in a small-group collaborative project that addresses a specific community need. Many of these projects have made Rock County a better place to live, work and play.

Below is a list of projects spearheaded by past LDA classes dating all the way back to our first graduating class in 2003. Many of the slide decks used in the groups’ presentations are embedded alongside the project description, as a way to provide context and additional details about each undertaking.

Whenever possible, the team members’ names have been listed on this page or are available in the slide decks. Many of our graduates continue to live and work in the Rock County region, while most of those who have moved away are connected and accessible via LinkedIn. Please take the time to contact any groups or group members whose projects intrigue you.

April 2018 Session Recap (15)

Making a Difference in Our Communities

Project Nothing But Nets

“Team Business as Unusual” members: Rachel Roeske, HealthNet; Josh Mummery, Mercyhealth; Lance Heinrich, ANGI Energy Systems; Lori Stewart, BMO Harris Bank; Jacquie Fox, Blackhawk Community Credit Union; Jessica Tison, City of Beloit

Project Description: This team is working with Project 16:49  to provide a half-court basketball/recreational court at their new home for boys in Janesville.  This will provide an opportunity for the young men to socialize and engage in recreational activities.


Reading Time With Shelter Buddies

“Team 6 Degrees” members: Brentan Vivian, Baker Tilly; Casey Bellard, Town of Beloit; Dana Simmons, School District of Janesville; Jolynn Burden, Forward Janesville; Darlene Ramirez, First Community Credit Union

Project Description: This team worked with the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin and local school districts to aid in expanding their reading program into a traveling curriculum through a partnership with both the Janesville and Beloit/Beloit Turner School Districts. Children will be reading to puppies and kittens.


Kicks for 608 Kids

“Team 12 Hands” members: Nancy Mandell, Blackhawk Community Credit Union; Jon Tysse, Blackhawk Technical College; Patty Hernandez, School District of Janesville; Sherman Dyer, ANGI Energy Systems; Renee Engen, First Lutheran Church; Melissa McMillan, Prent

Project Description: This project will help students within the Beloit and Janesville School Districts with a new set of sneakers. They are collecting 1,100 new pairs of shoes for school children. They are hosted a “Blingo” night to raise awareness and funds to help support students who don’t have the footwear they need.


“All Because You Read With Me”

“Team Mosaic” members: Bryan Whitehead, Nowlan & Mouat; Will Chatman, Community Action; Heather Dobson, Corporate Contractors Inc.; Sara Helgeson, City of Janesville; Derick Brunton, Town of Beloit; Colleen Curtis Trappe, Blackhawk Community Credit Union

Project Description: This team is focused on the importance of parents reading to children from 0-5 years old. They are writing a book for children with a message to the parents about the importance of reading to children and exposing them to a wider range of vocabulary. It will be distributed through Medical Centers and Pediatricians, as well as, Family Services and will be printed in English and Spanish.


​Activating Doty Mill Alley

“Team Solid Six” members: Tyler Mosley, Johnson Bank; Rachel Andres, Prent; Jason Klingaman, City of Janesville; Colleen Koerth, Blackhawk Technical College; Tracy Schroeder, Janesville Boys & Girls Club; Cori Olson, Beloit Boys & Girls

Project Description: This team will be working to revitalize an alley in downtown Janesville to provide a safe walkable throughway from River St (soon to be a festival street) to the rear entries of the Milwaukee St businesses, riverwalk/pedestrian bridge, and new Town Square.  This project will include an architectural entryway, benches, enclosures for current dumpsters or new solution for refuse disposal, historic pictures mounted to the rear of Milwaukee street buildings, colorful art/paint on the IBEW building, awnings, overhead lighting, architectural/ artistic features, new paving, and more.


Project First Light

Team members: Stephanie Bailey, Nate Fuller, Julie Gietzel, Sgt Bryan Hasse, Jenny Ryan

Project: Create a first responders’ crisis assistance program offering short-term intervention shelter and food vouchers.

Detailed Description: First Light is a first responders’ crisis assistance program designed to aid police officers in Rock County, WI with a short-term intervention shelter and food voucher resource program that bridges the gap between community resources/agencies that either do not operate during late evening and early morning hours or are minimally staffed until the First Light of morning when more resources become available. This is a voucher program where police officers are responsible for assessing the emergency situation, determining eligibility, and providing the recipients with appropriate assistance based on their individual crisis. Police officers will work in tandem with fire and other emergency resopnders to facilitate the appropriate distribution of vouchers.




Caritas Diaper Bank

Team members: LeAnn Jones, Shawn Kane, Jenny McCarthy, Kathryn Scott, Katie Wheelock

Project: Renovate the existing Carnitas Clothing/Diaper space and create a drive to reinvigorate inventory.

Detailed Description: Caritas is an existing non-profit that serves families in Beloit and surrounding Rock County communities with food, clothing, and baby supplies. Their existing clothing and diaper bank space was in need of renovations, and inventories were dangerously low. Caritas Diaper Bnak is a two-phase effort to solve both issues. Phase #1 is a fundraising, design, and construction project intended to revive the existing space, making it more welcoming to patrons and staff alike. Phase #2 is a week-long clothing and baby supply drive, “Stuff the Bus”, using social media and local high school volunteers to market and man the operation. In total over 10,000 diapers were collected from 13 different Janesville-area schools.



Feeding Our Future

Team members: Wendy Bumgarner, Lily Lux, Josh Andersen, Angela Hoium, Michael Warren

Project: To inspire and enable all youth, especially those who need us most, to realize their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens.

Detailed Description: Feeding Our Future is a initiative to fund the snack program at the Janesville Boys & Girls Club, and provide funds for capital improvements onsite. Through several marketing avenues, including social media, mailings, press releases, grants, and crowdfunding, the project was able to secure $1,400 initially with $14,000 in future annual contributions. In addition to funding the snack program, the project also helped establish a menu plan and food cost control measures, and improved food storage space and equipment. Included was improvements to staff areas, increasing privacy and efficiency



Planting the Seeds of Change, Gifts’ Homeless Shelter for Men

Team members: Holly Bultman, Joel Chappelle, Theresa Gunderson, Sally Pope, Darnisha Wisdom, Gene Wright

Project: ​ To provide landscaping and gardens at the new Gifts’ Homeless Shelter for Men.

Detailed Description:

The team is working and organizing on behalf of the Gifts’ Men’s Shelter to realize the organization’s vision for the exterior grounds of its new facility. In addition to decorative landscaping around the front and sides of the building, they are installing an aesthetically pleasing and utilitarian outdoor area where Gifts’ guests can garden, socialize, and engage in healthy recreational activities.


​ ​Project 16:49: “Take Action, Create Awareness, Advocate!”

Team members:

Tammy Eliszewski, Alex Hanson, Bobbie Kedrowski, Joe Rose, Ashley Rosenbaum, Kelly Willoughby

Project: ​​ ​Fundraise and Create an Advocacy Committee for Project 16:49.

Detailed Description:

Team Rockin’ Top Shelfers partnered with Project 16:49 to create an Advocacy Committee that will provide communication and representation of the organization’s needs to the community. This committee will focus on any needs or struggles of the organization. Examples of current support needed for Project 16:49 include: establishing a financial basis for unaccompanied youth, initiating and establishing a network of credible landlord connections, and finally, supporting changes to state statutes. The Top Shelfers participated in the Lip Sync Battle for Project 16:49 and raised more than $3,500 for the program.


Marketing For MAYC

Team members: Erin Loveland, Craig Hurda, Stacey Bodnar, Caryn Mellom, Kelsie Bannach

Project: Increase and improve the marketing materials available to the Milton Area Youth Center

Detailed Description: The Milton Area Youth Center (MAYC) is a faith-based organization that provides a safe place for youth in grades 7-9 to go when school is out for the day, offering games, activities, tutoring and companionship to the youth in Milton. MAYC was in need of new marketing materials after a reorganizational period took place last summer. Our group looked at new logos, brochures and more, including an updated website, to help launch MAYC back into the community. The project goal is to increase awareness of the program, motivate donors and sponsors, boost mentorships and volunteers, and add to the growth and stability of the organization.

Bench Up The Fairgrounds

Team members: Garry Krause, Brian Schweigl, Nick Hamilton, Deb Curtis (4-PACK)

Project: Rock County 4-H Fair “Bench Up the Fairgrounds” Project

Detailed Description: In October, 2015, 4-PACK recognized the need of COMFORT on the Rock County 4-H Fairgrounds as being in demand. As the oldest 4-H fair in the United States, the Rock County 4-H fair in Janesville, WI, has plenty to offer each and every visitor. From the numerous animals, to the carnival and every unique exhibit in between, the Rock County 4-H fair allows visitors one special week a year to experience the many projects and learn about the county’s youth. 4-PACK contacted the Rock County 4-H Fairgrounds Board in November 2015 and presented LDA 4-Pack project bench plans with a commitment to build 10 completed benches and donate them to the fairgrounds. The Board approved 4-PACK’s plan in December 2015. The project is in full motion with delivery of the benches to the Rock County 4-H Fairgrounds tentatively slated for June 2016.


Tokens 4 Teens

Team members: Stephanie Aegerter, Bill Frisbee, Jane Golberg, Jim Hartwig, Jillynn Niemeier

Project: Develop a marketing plan for the Tokens 4 Teens program through the Janesville School District

Detailed Description: Tokens 4 Teens is a transportation program through the Janesville School District that provides bus tokens and gas gift cards to low-income families so they are able to get to and from school and school-related activities. Our team agreed that we wanted to work on a project that benefited youth. We conducted a search to determine what the needs were in Rock County and contacted the Homeless Liaison through the School District of Janesville for some ideas. She mentioned that developing a marketing plan for the Tokens 4 Teens program would be beneficial as a way to receive more donations. As a group we decided we would create a logo, brochure, and website to expand the brand of the program. We presented to the Janesville School Board and the City Council our accomplishments with the program. In addition, we created 12 Facebook posts that the School District of Janesville Facebook’s Administrator may copy and paste throughout the year as a way to increase donations to the program. In rebranding of the Tokens 4 Teens program, as well as increasing awareness about the challenges low-income families face in regards to transportation, we hope the program will receive many donations from the community for years to come.


Hedberg Public Library Bookmobile

Team members: Jessica Grandt-Turke, Andrea Levine, Kyle Mair, Stephanie Pajerski, Brent Sutherland

Project: Create a Bookmobile for the Hedberg Public Library to travel Janesville (especially during the summer) to Bring the Library to You!

Detailed Description: Research shows that children, on average, lose one month of reading skills over the summer. A major contributing cause for this slide is that many children simply don’t have regular access to books during the summer months. As a result, when kids return to school in September, teachers find themselves re-teaching skills and concepts that students had mastered the previous spring. Our team partnered with Hedberg Public Library in order to help them expand their outreach efforts to students in the summer. Our project was to find and repurpose a vehicle into a bookmobile; the library would then sustain the project after our graduation. Research revealed that many cities use repurposed buses as their bookmobile vehicle of choice. However, we were able to get a decommissioned ambulance donated from the City of Janesville Fire Department at no cost. Our team worked to transform it with bookshelves and, with the help of Fetch Graphics and our sponsors, a wrap for the outside of the vehicle. We also coordinated a book drive to collect books for the project. After our presentation today, we will turn the bookmobile over to Hedberg Public Library. The Hedberg Public Library Bookmobile will be seen throughout Janesville in the coming months!


Janesville Urban Forestry League

Project: Unite multiple groups currently working independently in the care of Janesville’s urban forest. Create more community awareness and help establish a sense of urgency to take action in Rock County, particularly the City of Janesville, relative to Emerald Ash Borer.

Detailed Description: In October 2014, we identified Janesville’s Emerald Ash Borer issue as a potential project. We gathered names of community members involved in some way through their job and scheduled meetings and interviews. Through this process of information gathering, we began to understand the depth of this issue for the community, identified some of the obstacles, and quickly saw that there isn’t a magic solution. We observed that there are many community members and groups with a lot of knowledge, skill, and talent working independently on this issue. The more we investigated, the more we realized the goal of our project should be to create a framework for a larger group that would encompass all of this talent. We didn’t want to disrupt the integrity of the existing groups; instead we wanted to help alleviate some of the workload they each carry. We created a plan to culminate our efforts with a Meet and Greet for all the prospective Charter Members of the Janesville Urban Forestry League. We also invited Janesville City Manager Mark Freitag, LDA instructor Russell Lindquist, and Parks Director Cullen Slapak. This gathering was an opportunity for us to thank each of the groups and individuals for participating in our LDA project and for showing enthusiasm for our proposal.

Securing Our Future – Project 16:49

Project: Update the look and information on Project 16:49 marketing materials (website, brochures and assorted print materials) and develop an annual fundraiser that will assist in the creation of a future home for boys.

Detailed Description: After our group agreed to choose a project that helped children, we visited the Robin House and got a feel for all of the good work being done by Project 16:49. We were astonished by the number of teenagers in Rock County that were without a home and it inspired us to try and help. We spoke with staff, identified areas of need for the organi-zation and created an action plan. One of the immediate needs identified was in the delivery method used to provide vital information to homeless teens. We found a few partners with expertise in the marketing field and were able to secure Fetch Graphics to assist with a complete redesign of the brochures used to solicit assistance from donors and provide information to teens. We also partnered with a web designer to create a more user friendly and welcoming environment for their web presence. The second area of need was the desire of Project 16:49 to create a home for teenage boys similar to the current home for teenage girls (Robin House). We have arranged for a benefit concert to be headlined by South Bound on September 12th at The Rock Bar and Grill in Beloit. Details of the day will follow soon, but the plans include a free concert with a portion of all sales benefitting Project 16:49, a volley-ball tournament, silent auction, 50/50 raffle, and more. This project was made possible because of the wonderful assistance we received from our partners, and we look forward to staging an amazing benefit in September 2015 that will lead to the creation of a much-needed home for teenage boys.

Play It Forward Campaign

Project: Partner with Community Action to assist and promote building a new playground at the Community Kids Learning Center.

Detailed Description: “Play it Forward” is a partnership with Community Action to assist and promote building a new playground at the Community Kids Learning Center. This will provide children with a safer, development-appropriate learning environment. Improvements to the facility will help Community Action integrate outdoor play with social skills, gross motor skills, and creative training. It may also increase the facility’s rating with the state and provide additional financial opportunities. Our team will obtain sponsors for materials and supplies, build bike barns and Plexiglas fence, organize a work day, and promote community involve-ment and knowledge of the project and organization. Our project will also demonstrate to the kids and their families a sense of commitment and community pride. This will offer a better-rounded social, physical, and gross motor educational project for years to come.

Youth Rock

Project: Facilitate building community relationships for sustainability and fundraising.

Detailed Description: Youth ROCK is a faith-based organization that offers area youth the opportunity to discover Rock County and involve themselves in a leadership development program while completing community service projects throughout the Rock County area. Our team is assisting in securing additional sponsors for supplies, projects, and funds. This will enable the organization to attain their current goal of doubling their numbers and their commitment to community services they are able to provide. In increasing the network of resources, we are also laying the groundwork for the long-term goal of an additional week of leadership development. This will include leadership exercises with community mentoring for past participants prior to the week of work. The sense of accomplishment, self-discovery, and comradery will live with these youth, and support Rock County, for a lifetime.

Shine the Light

Project: To help the Beloit Domestic Violence Survivor Center. Our team recycled cabinetry, food pantries, plates, silverware, towels, alarm clocks, lamps, mirrors, artwork, armoires, sofa sleepers, mini-refrigerators and more, (donated by the Beloit Inn and Hendricks Commercial Properties, now the Ironworks Hotel), and we blessed the Beloit Domestic Violence Survivor Center with it. Volunteer carpenters updated the kitchen with donated cabinetry, along with new counter tops, a sink and a faucet; with a grant from the Stateline Community Foundation. We also brightened up the kitchen, dining room and living room with fresh coat of paint. We were very touched by the compassion of everyone our project touched.

Build a Teen Room at Care House

Team Members: Julie Baertschi, Kurt Egan, Shawn Galvin, Jennifer Oas, Julie Smith, Brian Vaughn

Summary: After going through a tour of the CARE House, each of us were encouraged by the good work performed at the CARE House and empowered by the number of children served. What seemed to be missing, as indicated by the former Executive Director of YWCA, was a place where pre-teens and teens could go to find respite before and after being interviewed. A teen rom was needed and an initial vision had been thought up by the YWCA CARE House staff. Our group felt very passionate about this project and the need was great. We created a donor-centric flyer to begin spreading the word about creating a Teen Room. Andrew, the CARE House advocate, invited us to attend a service at Good News Christian Center where the project was discussed, and our initial funds for the project began. After receiving more sponsors and donations, we organized a meat raffle to raise more funds. By the project’s completion, we anticipate a newly designed room with modern painting, furniture and various activities provided for pre-teens and teens. We will celebrate with an open house and a final fundraising effort with Culver’s Scoopie Night on May 19, 2014. Nothing would have been possible without the collaborative efforts from YWCA staff including Andrew Jensen, Jeff Bealles and Beth Tallon.

Path for Paws

Team Members: Bob Bastien, Jessica Johnson, Kaili Lee, Jamie Merath, Michael Reuter, Donna Sykora

Summary: Helping Pets go Home Again One Brick at a Time: The campaign was organized by Jessica Johnson, Donna Sykora, Robert Bastien, Michael Reuter, Jamie Merath, and Kaili Lee all currently enrolled in the Rock County Leadership Development Academy. This group chose to develop the Path for Paws fundraising campaign as their year-long community service project to benefit the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin. Through the sale of engraved bricks for a 20-by-20 foot patio at the animal shelter 100% of funds raised will go towards the purchase of new veterinary equipment to be used by Rock County Humane Society’s new onsite veterinarian.

Caring Hands; Healing Hearts

Team Members: April Driver, Patty Haggerty, AmyJo Kenevan-Ruthe, Kurt Krueger, Steve Wanninger

Summary: The St. Elizabeth’s skilled nursing facility has provided long-term care in Janesville since 1956. St. Elizabeth’s primary mission is to provide care on a long-term basis in a home-like atmosphere so they get to know their residents and families. The 46 bed facility has a long waiting list and many residents spend years in the comfortable, supportive environment. However, the long-term care status of the residents and the low reimbursements received from Medicare and Medicaid for this type of care creates a challenging environment for the nursing home to continue with their current financial model. St. Elizabeth’s is currently examining various nursing care options that will enable them to create sustainability and support their mission of long-term care. Our leadership project involved working with St. Elizabeth’s to assess referral source needs and the community perception of skilled nursing facilities.

Bridging Our Communities

Project: To build a bridge over Goose Creek as an entrance on the north side into Big Hill Park in order to connect Janesville and Beloit through the hiking, biking and recreational trails.

Adult Spelling Bee

Project: To organize and execute an “adult spelling bee” fundraiser to support adult literacy organizations in the Stateline area.

Other Projects

  • A project further dissecting the “skills gap” faced by local employers and employees.
  • An initiative to provide resources to teenage fathers.

Bringing EBT FoodShare to Area Farmers Markets

Project: Assisted the Janesville Farmers Market and the Beloit Farmers Market in establishing EBT Foodshare benefits (a.k.a. Food Stamps) at each of the markets.

LDA Program Enhancement

Project: To develop a better approach to the LDA’s sponsorship program and to identify potential improvements to program content and processes.

Developing a Skilled Workforce

Project: To identify potential causes for the skills gap and provide suggestions on what can be done to encourage the development and expansion of a skilled workforce in our area.

Additional Project

  • Worked with the Rock County 4-H Board and the relevant County department(s) regarding capital improvements to the fairground site.

YWCA of Rock County Remodeling

Project: To recommend and help administer updates to the YWCA Women’s Shelter.

Entrepreneurial Scholarship Fund

Project: To award scholarships for the E-Hub Program, a short-term training program for those who wish to own and operate their own small business.

HealthNet Medication Storage

Project: To make recommendations for HealthNet of Rock County’s Pharmacy Renovation.

Cupboard to Cupboard

Project: To help sustain the Beloit Domestic Violence Shelter. Participants from the Leadership Development Academy of Rock County partnered with the Beloit Snappers in a community-wide initiative called “Cupboard to Cupboard.” This initiative will help support the Beloit Domestic Violence Shelter in
Beloit, Wisconsin. Our intent is to collect household goods, which are of an ongoing need.

Cupboard-to-Cupboard flyer, Class of 2010-11 project


Additional project:

  • A project to develop and administer a comprehensive survey for area small businesses.

Promoting The Janesville Mile

Project: An effort to promote “The Janesville Mile,” a downtown entertainment and shopping district.

Other Projects

  • A project to help furnish a room in the YWCA Care House so that forensic physical examinations may take place on-site.
  • A project to help the Rock County Humane Society to raise funds to purchase “Kitty Condos” to improve the physical and emotional welfare of cats while they await new homes.
  • An educational program to promote the use of the “Call and Pump” CPR technique. A physician at Mercy Hospital in Janesville originated the concept and has been educating various institutions on its use for several years.
  • A project to help Forward Janesville, Inc. develop a marketing plan for new-member recruitment and retention.
  • An effort to help KANDU Industries plan and host a major fundraiser in May 2010. KANDU provides a vital community service through building work skills and creating opportunities for people with employment barriers.
  • A project to provide support for “Breakfast Clubs” within the School District of Janesville.
  • A project to enhance the United Way’s Data Walls, which highlight different issues of concern in our area.
  • A project to create and maintain a Business Volunteer Network.
  • A project to place recycling bins in city parks.
  • Creation of the Janesville Green Team – an effort to promote sustainable businesses in Janesville.
  • A project to “Save the Filling Station” – the Standard Oil Filling Station at 101 North Franklin Street in Janesville.
  • A project to assist Spanish speaking parents in understanding what their children are learning in school.
  • A project to assist for Rock Responds, an electronic bulletin board where local service agencies post client needs.

Project:  To establish, a community resource website.

Other Projects

  • A protect to explore the creation of a Janesville Children’s Museum.
  • An initiative to create Kind Minds, a network of anonymous volunteers who perform random acts of kindness.
  • A project to develop a comprehensive marketing and physician recruitment plan to help meet the unfulfilled needs of HealthNet of Janesville, Inc.
  • A project to assist, improve and sustain the Rock County Prescription Drug Collection Program.


Project:  To create Connections, a publication highlighting clubs, groups and volunteer opportunities in Janesville.

Mobility of Persons with Developmental Disabilities

Project: To improve the mobility of persons with disabilities in Rock County.

Diversity Action Team

Project: Creating ways to embrace racial and ethnic diversity in Rock County.

Janesville Citywide Wi-Fi

Communities in Rock County, Wisconsin joined together in August 2006 to form a Joint Citizen Committee exploring the feasibility of Wireless in Rock County. The two major cities were the City of Beloit and the City of Janesville. The Joint Committee, in conjunction with the staff the City of Beloit and the City of Janesville were interested in creating a network that would make it possible for residents, businesses, local governments, and other public and private organizations to take advantage of existing and new wireless broadband technologies.

The group sought submittals from qualified companies, to design, implement, operate, and maintain a “fee for service” wireless broadband network for residents, businesses and other public or private organizations that desire such service. The responding vendors should have demonstrated experience in rural scale wireless broadband networks, particularly with designing, implementing, operating, and maintaining such networks.

The following were the project’s objectives:

  • To provide seamless and reliable wireless broadband access to the Internet for residents and businesses throughout Rock County.
  • To create and sustain a public/private business model to provide an affordable “fee-based” wireless broadband network.
  • To support economic development, particularly the recruitment and retention of businesses that rely on broadband connectivity to the Internet.
  • To develop and introduce wireless broadband technology to local government operations in order to increase productivity and enhance the quality of service delivery.
  • To establish a wireless broadband network that serves the cities of Beloit and Janesville without being burden on its taxpayers.

To date, this project has not come to fruition.

Strategic Initiatives For Janesville

Projects: The Class of 2004-05 completed five projects that focused on Janesville, Wisconsin’s ethnic diversity, economic diversity, parks/river/downtown, and neighborhoods and collaborative partnerships.

Board Essentials

Project: To develop a resource library of information that will empower entire boards, as well as individual board members and prospective board members, by providing critical information related to their roles and functions.

A Vision For Janesville’s Future

Multi-Functional Outdoor Performance Facility

Project: To evaluate, justify and build an outdoor performance facility in Janesville.