The 2019 WISCAP Annual Luncheon & Awards was held today, May 23, 2019 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, WI. WISCAP presented these awards on behalf of its network of sixteen Community Action Agencies, the Foundation for Rural Housing and UMOS so as to recognize individuals or organizations who have gone above and beyond in helping to improve and further the goals of Community Action in Wisconsin in fighting poverty. To celebrate Community Action Month, Secretary of the Department of Workforce Development, Caleb Frostman read Governor Tony Evers’ proclamation declaring May 2019 as Community Action Month. Also in attendance was the Secretary of the Department of Children & Families, Emilie Amundson who presented the 22nd Annual Governor’s Excellence in Community Action Award.
Outstanding Advocate Award
The Outstanding Advocate Award was established as a tribute to Jackie Lawrence, former WISCAP Executive Director, in recognition of someone who has either demonstrated remarkable achievement articulating the needs and concerns of the poor or exemplary leadership advancing the causes and principals of community action and service to low-income families. This years recipient was Tom Mayne the Energy Services Director for Couleecap. Tom was nominated by Hetti Brown, Executive Director of Couleecap, for his drive in communicating the needs of his local community to policy makers, community stakeholders, fellow staff and the public. You can read the entire nomination below.
Outstanding Friend of Community Action Award
The Outstanding Friend of Community Action Award recognizes an individual or group outside of the CAA Network, whose actions have promoted or enhanced the efforts and services of community action. This year’s recipient was Caroline Gregerson, Community Development Administrator for the city of La Crosse. Caroline was nominated by Hetti Brown for the ongoing support that she has shown community action. She is a key leader in many initiatives that Couleecap is a part of and offers key connections to new program opportunities and events. Read more about how Caroline Gregerson has advanced the work of community action in the nomination below.
Exceptional Community Action Staff Member Award
The Exceptional Community Action Staff Member Award was established as a tribute to Richard Strand, former Executive Director of Southwest CAP and long-time member of the WISCAP Board, in recognition of a Community Action employee who has demonstrated the hard-work that embodies the spirit of Community Action. Jim was nominated by Nicole Harrison, Vice President of Human Development and Phong Vang, Hmong UPLIFT Coordinator, of CAP Services. He won this award for his work with the Hmong community in Portage County over the last 40 years. To read more about Jim’s outstanding efforts and achievements, read his nomination below.
The Self-Sufficiency Award recognizes an individual who, with the aid of their local Community Action Agency, has overcome poverty and achieved self-sufficiency. Arletta Re’nea Allen was the recipient of this award and she was nominated by Lu Scheer, Affordable Housing Director, and Kathy Doyle, Director of Business Development of ADVOCAP. Arletta has been a client in multiple programs at ADVOCAP throughout the last 18 years. ADVOCAP assisted in Arletta’s journey from homelessness to homeownership, and in developing her small business. To read Arletta’s moving story, read her nomination below.
WISCAP President’s Award
The WISCAP’s President’s Award is given at the WISCAP Board President’s discretion to acknowledge an exceptional person or group for their contributions to the work of community action. This year, WISCAP Board President, Wally Orzechowski, appointed Chuck Spargo as the recipient. Chuck was a board member for the Foundation for Rural Housing for 16 years. In that time he assisted FRH in everything from raising unrestricted dollars to working the phones during a change in leadership. To read more about Chuck’s efforts and his embodiment of the mission of community action, see his story below.
William Steiger Human Services Award
The William Steiger Human Services Award is given in recognition of a legislator (Republican) for outstanding support of Community Action and low-income families. This year’s recipient was Representative Mike Rohrkaste, nominated by Mike Bonertz, Executive Director of ADVOCAP.
State Representative Mike Rohrkaste (R-Neenah) has emerged as a leading voice in the state’s workforce development initiatives. He has taken the lead on efforts to secure greater support for the Community Action Skills Enhancement Program and authored legislation aimed at assisting businesses in developing internship program and “upskilling” or “micro-credentialing” training. He has also proven to be an important voice in the bi-partisan effort to fight homelessness in Wisconsin, co-sponsoring and promoting a series of eight bills known as “A Hand for the Homeless” initiative.
Representative Rohrkaste is currently in his third term as Representative of the 55th Assembly District. In his first term, he was Chair of the Speaker’s Task Force on Alzheimer’s and Dementia, as well as Vice Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health. He worked on several healthcare-related bills, including the 10-bill Alzheimer’s and Dementia package that passed the State Assembly. Beginning in his second term, he has served on the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, which works on the state’s biennial budget and reviews other appropriations requests, including the funding of Skills Enhancement and other programs critical to the work of Community Action Agencies.
Gaylord Nelson Human Services Award
The Gaylord Nelson Human Services Award recognizes a legislator (Democrat) for outstanding support of Community Action and low-income families. This year’s recipient is Senator LaTonya Johnson, who was nominated by George Hinton, CEO Of Social Development Commission.
As a child care provider, a member of the State Assembly, and current State Senator, LaTonya Johnson has demonstrated a strong commitment to the fight against poverty in Wisconsin. Representing the 6th District, which includes WISCAP member agency, the Social Development Commission, Senator Johnson is a forceful advocate for workers and working families, having served as Executive Board member for AFSCME District Council 48, President of AFSCME Local 502, and Chair of AFSCME’s Women Committee.
As a member of the Joint Committee on Finance, the Senate Committee on Education, and the Senate Committee on Public Benefits, Senator Johnson has championed the issues of paid sick leave and child care, and has worked with WISCAP to develop soon-to-be-introduced comprehensive anti-poverty legislation, the Wisconsin Opportunity Act.