Tag: Johnson Bank

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.

Homelessness, Poverty and Diversity

Homelessness, poverty and diversity.  Tough problems.  What is being done to help with these issues?  Can the Leadership Development Academy make a difference or are the problems too big?  Listening to heartbreaking journeys, participants walked through simulations and did some soul searching during their January session at Community Action in Beloit.

A Changed Man

Danny Robinson lost everything.  Drugs and alcohol took it away.  Danny lost a job of many years, his marriage, his family, his home, his car, everything.  Hitting rock bottom, he was brought to a treatment center, then sent to Gifts Men’s Shelter in Janesville.  With a huge chip on his shoulder when he arrived, it took awhile to soften his heart.  

Now a changed man, Danny is helping others on their journey to recovery.  It wasn’t easy, but he is a success story.  He has a twinkle in his eye and joy in his heart.  Danny choked up when he talked about finally having his grand-kids call him Paw Paw again.   He wants to share his story with others to help them.  Rock County has 250 to 350 homeless needing to be housed each night.  We are thankful for Danny and the many shelters and programs in our area that help the homeless to get back on their feet.

Homelessness is a Major Issue

Homelessness is a big problem with every age group.  No one is immune.  Our panel on poverty and homelessness shared what they are doing to help. Stephanie Burton from the Gifts Men’s Shelter, Erin Loveland from House of Mercy, Tammy DeGarmo from Project 16:49 and Carrie Kulinski from the School District of Janesville were all on hand to share.  

Young children lose 6 months of learning each time they move to a different school.  Drugs, sex trafficking, sexual abuse, alcoholism and physical abuse are some of the issues they are dealing with.  Heartbreaking and eye opening. Each of the panel members are very passionate about these issues.  They continue to attempt to remove barriers.  Transportation issues is one of the biggest.  Holding down a job is nearly impossible without transportation.  The HITF (Homeless Intervention Task Force) is addressing many of these issues through education and awareness.  Involvement and education is key.

One in Five Live in Poverty in Wisconsin

Hunger is an issue throughout the world.  Sometimes we turn a blind eye to it.  The Leadership Development Academy class experienced a hunger simulation during the session.  Facilitating the program was Bard Meier, from the Hunger Task Force in Milwaukee.  Each participant was given an identity.  Some single with transportation; others with large families and no transportation.  Each with a different amount of money and parameters they were working with, while attempting to feed their family for three days.  Many found it frustrating and nearly impossible.   

Why do we throw LDA participants into situations they are not equipped to deal with?  For a learning experience.  People who are hungry do not choose to be hungry, yet they have to feed their family everyday.  Many have jobs, but not enough money to provide for their basic needs. One in five people live in poverty in Wisconsin.  Rural areas are impacted more, due to transportation issues.  In northern Wisconsin, one in three live in poverty.  There are resources, but sometimes those resources are difficult to obtain.  Therefore, communities who will not admit there is a problem can leave families and children hungry.

Spoiled Again

Participants were treated to homemade scones and coffee from Joe and Amber Jimenez; and Johnson Bank provided a delicious lunch.  Johnson Bank has been one of our sponsors for many years and we are thankful for their partnership.

Team Projects

Working with project teams each month are board mentors.  This year’s projects are benefiting Project 16:49, Caritas, First Responders of Rock County, the Gifts Men’s Shelter and the Boys and Girls Club of Janesville.

Restorative Practices and Diversity

Diversity comes in many forms. Walking the class through a session on diversity was Tasha Bell and David Wilson, from the School District of Beloit.  Mutual respect, speaking the truth and confidentiality are a must.  Sharing how to work through “Restorative Practices” was interesting.  Don’t ask, “Why?”, ask “What happened?”  

At the beginning of the session, participants were asked, “What gets in the way of you being the best professional you can be?”  At the end of the session, they were asked, “If you came to yourself for help, how would you help yourself to overcome those things?”

We all need to have an understanding of human differences to learn more and judge less.  What is our purpose? Great session for becoming empowered!

Community Action

Katie Lawler, from Community Action, who is in our Leadership Development Academy class, provided information on the services they offer.  Leading the class on a tour of the facility, she gave them a better understanding of Community Action.

Kids Against Hunger

John Wong shared what Kids Against Hunger is all about.  The Rotary Clubs of Rock County are working together to help support this organization. Millions of meals have been provided locally, as well as being sent throughout the world. Sharing some excellent leadership tips, John was encouraging.  He inspired the class to learn how to delegate, follow through with what you say you are going to do, be efficient, be respectful of others opinions and time, and to give back of your time, talents and wealth.  John said, “God gave us two ears and one mouth, so listen twice as much as you talk.”   We are thankful for local leaders who share with our class and are truly making a difference in our community.


Empowering day, filled with some tough moments.  Each person walked away with a better understanding of these challenges and of themselves.  They now know how they can make a difference with poverty, homelessness and diversity; and I am confident they will!

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