Tag: Janesville

Linda Ross,
Executive Director


Editor’s note: As a Leadership Development Academy alum (Class of 2013-14), Linda Ross is passionate about the mission of the organization and enjoys working as  Executive Director/Program Facilitator. Wisdom acquired at LDA empowers her to continue her success in business.  She is excited to work with others to obtain their leadership goals.

Congratulations LDA Class of 2017

Congratulations to the Leadership Development Academy Class of 2017!  Five team projects, 28 graduating LDA participants and ten really great sessions; resulting in changed lives and a better community.  I couldn’t be more proud of the participants and the effort they put forth this year.  

Project Presentations and Graduation

We decided to combine project presentations and graduation into a one day event.  I believe it was the perfect culmination of a great year.  Taking place at the Venue in Janesville, and it suited our day perfectly.  If you have not been in the Venue, you really need to stop by.  It is historic and beautiful.  Megan O’Leary Photography captured our day on her camera.  She does an outstanding job.

5 Project Teams

This year the LDA had 5 project teams.  They all had amazing projects to present to those who were listening.  The projects were:  “Take Action, Create Awareness, Advocate!” for Project 16:49.  Feeding Our Future for the Boys & Girls Club of Janesville. First Light for first responders.  Diaper Bank for Caritas.  Planting the Seeds of Change for the GIFTS’ Homeless Shelter for Men.  Each project  makes a difference for residents of our communities.  

Take Action, Create Awareness, Advocate!

“Take Action, Create Awareness, Advocate!” for Project 16:49 is from the Team Rockin’ Top Shelfers.  They are partnering with Project 16:49 to create an Advocacy Committee.  This committee focuses on any needs or struggles of the organization.  It will establish a financial basis for unaccompanied youth, initiate and establish a network of credible landlords and  support 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.

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

Feeding Our Future

Feeding Our Future provides daily snacks to Boys & Girls Club of Janesville members during the school year. It results in an estimated 12,000 free, nutritious snacks per year to youth in the Janesville area.  Feeding Our Future helps supply children with the nutrients they may not be receiving at home due to income or lack of information on healthy eating.  It strives to have a lasting impact by introducing members to new, healthy foods. Hopefully they will continue to incorporate them into their diets into adulthood.  Snacks meet the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction food standards.

Wendy Bumgarner, Lily Lux,  Josh Andersen, Michael Warren and Angie Hoium

First Light

First Light is a project modeled on the idea of providing emergency shelter in the midst of a crisis. Dire situations, such as no heat on the coldest night of the year, are made all the more challenging due to the fact that help isn’t available 24 hours per day or on weekends from other resources. 

In such situations, people often turn to first responders for aid. Many of these agencies are ill-equipped to help in these situations.  It is not uncommon for first responders to take money out of their own pockets to meet these needs, especially when it comes to finding food and shelter. Such generosity is beyond the call of duty, and is unsustainable.

First Light aims to fill this resource gap. It will equip first responders throughout Rock County with a series of shelter vouchers to help with short-term shelter needs in a very real way. Working with hotels in Rock County, the project aims to combine both temporary relief and long-term education. Along with vouchers, a guide will be given out to help link them up with various resources to help meet their long-term needs.

Bryan Hasse, Stephanie Bailey,  Jenny Ryan, Julie Gietzel and Nate Fuller

Diaper Bank

Another team is assisting Caritas in the creation of a diaper bank to serve all of Rock County.  Caritas, a Rock County community resource center, is currently in the process of a building expansion.  It is also transitioning from a clothing bank to a diaper bank.  One in three families struggle with a lack of adequate diaper supply at some point.  These families are often times struggling with additional basic needs such as food and financial security.  

This lack of resources can result in economic, mental and physical stress.  A lack of clean and adequate diapers can result in sickness for the child and denial of child care.  As a result, parents have to miss work.  When unable to meet basic needs, parents are less likely to be as involved in the child’s development.  Collecting more than 10,000 diapers, students at the Janesville School District helped to “Stuff a Bus” with diapers.  

Shawn Kane, LeAnn Jones, Jenny McCarthy and Kathryn Scott    Not pictured:  Katie Wheelock

Planting the Seeds of Change

The fifth team is Planting the Seeds of Change for the  Gifts’ Homeless Shelter for Men.  Their project is to provide landscaping and gardens at the new Gifts’ Homeless Shelter for Men in Janesville.  The team is working with K & W Greenery 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 a useful and beautiful outdoor area.  In this area, Gifts’ guests can garden, socialize, and engage in healthy recreational activities.  This project will be completed this summer.  If you are looking to volunteer, there is much work to be done.

Joel Chappelle, Darnisha Wisdom, Sally Pope, Holly Bultman, Theresa Gunderson and Gene Wright

A Time of Celebration

Graduation was a time of celebration!  We heard from speakers who were alum, sponsors and class participants. Graduation certificates and photos were given out to each one who completed the LDA class.  We had 104 people in attendance!

Board Chair

LDA Board Chair, Katrina Bird, welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming.

Project Presentation and Graduation Sponsor

First Community Credit Union was our Project Presentation and Graduation Day sponsor.  Jack Gill offered congratulations to the class.

Class of 2017 Speakers

Representing the Class of 2017 was Joel Chappelle and Kelly Willoughby.  Both were grateful for the eye-opening sessions that helped create awareness of Rock County and of themselves.  

Platinum Sponsor

The Platinum Sponsor for LDA is ANGI Energy Systems.  Jason Lund shared how the LDA is making a difference in their organization through their 5 graduates.

Keynote Speaker

Brian Anderson, LDA Class of 2008 from Johnson Bank, shared about leadership.  He also shared how LDA has made a difference in his life and in the lives of others in our community.


The Moment They Have Been Waiting For

Katrina and I had the privilege of giving the graduation certificates to the class.  As each one was approaching, memories of this past year flooded my mind, as well as my heart.

A Cob of Corn

As a wrap up, I used a cob of corn to remind each participant to take the seeds/tools that they have and to continue to plant others from their growth.  Each one in the LDA class was given many tools.  With them, they will give back and serve our community.

Do Great Things

I believe they will all do great things.  I believe they will keep the momentum going and they will be the best they can be.

Fantastic Board of Directors

Some of the LDA Board of Directors were able to join us for the events.  This board is fantastic to work with!

Congratulations Class of 2017!

Congratulations to the Leadership Development Academy Class of 2017!  Have some fun.  You earned it!








Linda Ross,
Executive Director

Editor’s note: As a Leadership Development Academy alum (Class of 2013-14), Linda Ross is passionate about the mission of the organization and enjoys working as  Executive Director/Program Facilitator. Wisdom acquired at LDA empowers her to continue her success in business.  She is excited to work with others to obtain their leadership goals.

Public Speaking and Active Shooter Training

What do public speaking, a leadership game, an organization that helps clients with disabilities, an FBI agent, active shooter training and emergency medical procedures have in common?  The Leadership Development Academy’s training for participants at the March session, held at KANDU Industries and Mercyhealth in Janesville, of course.

Public Speaking

Our day started with some great speeches from Leadership Development Academy (LDA) participants.  The dreaded speeches!  Little did they know, they have been preparing all year for this day.  Each month, participants are presenting information about their team projects.  Through these presentations, they have the opportunity to be in front of others.  We have been breaking them in slowly.  

The speeches were heartfelt and informative.  Some spoke about who they admire.  Others about the most valuable thing they have learned in LDA.   All of them spoke about people.  People they admire.  Some who are still with us and some who are not.

Several shared about Rock County’s greatest asset.  Guess what it is…people.  We are the greatest asset.  The class is like family now.  They look out for one another and have made friendships that will last a lifetime. The speeches were moving; each and every one of them.  

The Leadership Game

Next up…the Leadership Game.  Challenging and sometimes frustrating, the Leadership Game invites participants to rely on their teammates for answers.  This game throws participants into scenarios they need to come up with solutions for.  Sometimes there is no right answers, just like in real life.  

Leadership Development Academy board members, Lori Stottler from the City of Beloit, Joe Jimenez from KANDU Industries, and AmyJo Verbeten from SSM Health, set the bar high for the class.  Presenting to the board, each team was able to gain points during the competition when they answered questions correctly.  They also gained several extra points when everyone presented. The depth of understanding the class has always amazes me.

Generous Project Donations

Not to be missed is the support from participants to the other project teams.  One team is collecting diapers to “Stuff a Bus” and donate them to Caritas.  Participants brought a cart full of diapers to support the team.

At KANDU, We Kan Do!

At KANDU, We Kan Do!  Gary Bersell, Executive Director of KANDU Industries, gives a great message and tour.  KANDU provides diverse opportunities for persons with disabilities or disadvantages, to have the opportunity to pursue greater independence and meet their full potential.  For the clients, it is a workplace, social life, recreation and fun.  Best Events is part of KANDU and they offer full service catering and event production.  They can make anyplace look amazing.

We also had the privilege to have lunch with the clients.  John sat at our table.  He has worked at KANDU for 24 years and loves it there.  A huge Packer fan, he has a smile on his face and is friendly to everyone he meets.  Thanks for hosting and sharing the love with us, KANDU!

FBI Agent GB Jones

Workplace Violence and Active Shooter Awareness and Preparation was empowering! GB Jones, an FBI agent, who is married to one of the class participants, shared his story with the class.  Agent Jones has been involved in four active shooter events in his career, so he knows what he is talking about when he presents.  Giving the class tools and resources to identify “at risk” individuals before a problem happens was empowering.  There are pre-attack indicators, such as a personal grievance; contextually inappropriate acquisition of multiple weapons and interest in explosives; an intense fascination with previous mass attacks; and a personal loss prior to the event, such as a death, divorce or loss of a job.

Run, Hide, Fight!

It was interesting to learn that typically active shooters have no prior history of mental illness.  Everyone workplace needs to have an emergency operations plan in place.  The Run, Hide, Fight video is a good example of a company who took time preparing for an emergency. Get out quickly if you can. If not, hide.  If you have to, fight for your life.  Agent Jones shared with us for an hour and made the class truly think about what they would do in case of an emergency.

Dr. Christopher Wistrom

Dr. Christopher Wistrom is the Associate EMS Medical Director and a staff physician on MD-1, an emergency response vehicle.  MD-1 brings hospital-level care directly to the scene of a trauma or medical emergency.  Dr. Wistrom is engaging, funny and direct.  He cares about the community and he understands that training can make a difference between life and death.  He wants to empower people and teach them how to deal with situations from the inside, so if there is an emergency and first responders can’t get in, others can provide the care that is needed.  The only way to increase survivability is to increase preparedness.

Dr. Wistrom would like to see every young person in the classroom, grades 7 and up, be prepared in case of emergency.  Mercyhealth has a program called “Casualty Care in the Classroom” to take care of this.  They also have a program called, “Casualty Care in the Workplace”.  Give Mercyhealth a call and they can set you up for the training.

Tactical EMS Training Center

Did you know that there is a 25,000 square-foot tactical EMS Training Center in Janesville?  Mercyhealth provides this facility for law enforcement and EMS training. There is nothing like it in the region.  LDA participants were able to put on tactical vests, grab training weapons and respond like a Rescue Task Force.  

Led by Gene Wright, Fire Chief for the Town of Beloit, who is a LDA participant this year, the class gained a better understanding of what it would be like to respond to an active shooter incident.  Chief Wright lead the class into an office setting and explained what to expect.  Mannequins lying on the floor, bleeding and crying out in pain made the scenario seem real.

Bryan Hasse, Police Officer for the Town of Beloit, also a LDA participant, taught the class how to pack a wound that is bleeding.  Some were squeamish, but all stepped up to the plate and packed the wound.  

LeAnn Jones, Police Officer for the Town of Beloit, also a LDA participant, taught the class how to properly apply a tourniquet and what to look for to use in a room if you don’t have the proper supplies.  We are so thankful to our first responders and their knowledge.

As if our day hadn’t been full enough, we toured the training facility with it’s state of the art simulation labs.  They have it all…church, office, ER, classroom, boardroom, theater, night club, locker rooms and an apartment.  The simulation labs have sounds and realistic backgrounds to make you feel like you are really in that environment.  Well done, Mercyhealth, well done!

Exhausted, but Empowered!

What a day!  Public speaking, a leadership game, an organization that helps clients with disabilities, an FBI agent, active shooter training and emergency medical procedures.  Everyone was exhausted, but feeling empowered.  We live in a great community and are thankful for the people who share it with us.

Linda Ross, Executive Director

Linda Ross, Executive Director

Editor’s note: As a Leadership Development Academy alum (Class of 2013-14), Linda Ross is passionate about the mission of the organization and enjoys working as  Executive Director/Program Facilitator. Wisdom acquired at LDA empowers her to continue her success in business.  She is excited to work with others to obtain their leadership goals.

Questioning Economic Development

Have you ever wondered what economic development is all about?  What does it take to bring a company to Rock County?  How many agencies are involved?  What is the process?  What is the timeline?  Is Rock County ready to welcome new businesses?  These questions and more were answered when the Leadership Development Academy (LDA) met in November for an economic development session at Blain Supply.  

Blain Supply

Our morning began with a welcome and tour with Bill Schendt from Blain Supply.  He has been with Blain Supply for 34 years and you can tell his is very passionate about the company.  Bill explained to the participants why mentoring is so important. You need to seek one and be one.  Leadership, once developed, must be passed on.


Touring Blain Supply was interesting.  We met in their conference center, a top-notch facility.  They invest a great deal in their people and it shows by their dedication and hard work.  Going behind the scenes, we visited the distribution center, photography studio and call center.  


Economic Development Tour of Janesville and Milton

The sun was shining as we were touring Janesville and Milton in a VanGalder motor coach.  James Otterstein from the Rock County Development Alliance, John Beckord from Forward Janesville and Al Hulick from the City of Milton, shared  what was happening in our area.  Rock County was the first place in the country to be shovel ready.  This means there are zero barriers for a company to build.  Places on our route included downtown Janesville, the GM property, southside industrial corridor and Milton’s business park.


Advanced Manufacturing Center

In Milton, Dr Tracy Pierner, from Blackhawk Technical College (BTC), welcomed us to the Advanced Manufacturing Center.  Many exciting changes are happening at BTC and they are ready and willing to help businesses and students adapt to changing needs.  Dr. Garry Krause took us on a tour of the facility. Students will be well equipped after training at this facility.

Back to Blain Supply for a great lunch and team project work.  The project teams are narrowing their focus and will soon be announcing their projects.  Exciting!

Economic Development 101

Economic Development 101 was the name of the game in the afternoon.  There are not many people who have as much information inside their heads as James Otterstein does.  He really knows his stuff!  He shared numbers and let the class know Rock County is stronger in our economy today, than we were in 2007.  James couldn’t tell us all his secrets, but he let us know several good things are on the horizon.  Thankfully, we are moving in the right direction.  This wouldn’t happen without the dedication and teamwork of several agencies in our area.


“Project Cougar”

Each project team worked on a case study in the afternoon, trying to convince “Project Cougar”, a new company coming to the area, that Rock County was the place they should locate their business.  They discovered there is a great deal that goes into these presentations, which includes many agencies and organizations working together.  The competition is fierce, the stakes are high and it is not as easy as it looks.

The class presented their solutions to James Otterstein, and Dan Cunningham from Forward Janesville.  They threw out some economic development questions that stumped the teams and were surprised when they had answers to others.  In the end, I think the class decided to leave it to the professionals and be thankful for the great job they are doing in Rock County.

All in all, it was a day packed with information and a day that will be remembered as the class shares with others.  Economic development can be overwhelming and exciting at the same time.  We are happy to leave it with the professionals and are glad they shared with us this month.

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