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Meet the 2016 Badger Bioneers

Every year, Sustain Dane celebrates local leaders who further a shared vision of Big 'S' Sustainability, encompassing a strong community, a just economy, and a healthy planet.
These champions earn the title “Badger Bioneer” for their pioneering work that makes the Greater Madison Region more sustainable. Through collaboration, innovation, and courage, this year's Badger Bioneers reach beyond boundaries and across sectors to improve the wellbeing of our neighbors, the strength of our economy, and the health of our environment.

Sustain Dane is pleased to announce the 2016 Badger Bioneers:

Anne Reynolds is the Executive Director of the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives. She develops courses, conferences and educational programs at the Center, and has led numerous workshops on board leadership, board roles and responsibilities and strategic planning.  Her areas of interest include governance, member loyalty, business structure and innovative uses of the cooperative model.  She has worked with cooperatives in all sectors, including agriculture, food, energy, purchasing and worker-owned.  Anne serves on several boards, including The Cooperative Foundation and Shared Capital Cooperative.  Before joining the Center for Cooperatives, she worked at the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

Raj Shukla is a father, husband, mediocre drummer, civic actor, pleasant neighbor, taco connoisseur and dog-lover. He is also the Executive Director of the River Alliance of Wisconsin and serves as Chair of the Sustainable Madison Committee (SMC), a city advisory committee of mayoral appointees who work to realize the community's social and environmental aspirations. His career includes directing behavior-based energy efficiency programs with Cool Choices, managing climate change education programs with former Vice President Al Gore's Climate Reality Project, training candidates and elected officials with Progressive Majority Wisconsin and organizing businesses to invest in inner city neighborhoods at The Greater Milwaukee Committee. Raj has called Madison home for over a decade and loves it more and more with each day. It’s abundance of natural attractions and neighborhood festivals keep his family busy. The community’s reflective and progressive nature keep his family healthy. The city’s commitment to social equity, environmental justice and compassion keep his family happy. But he has engaged with fellow citizens on the SMC with the understanding that there is far more to be done to make sure Madison reaches its lofty aspirations, particularly when it comes to how we address the dangers and opportunities of climate change. During his tenure, the SMC has transformed itself from a body that dispenses knowledge to one that also takes action.

Rev. Dr. Carmen Porco is President of Porco Consulting and CEO of Housing Ministries of American Baptists in Wisconsin. Carmen has successfully brought six low-income housing communities out of default to become models of effectiveness: strong, stable and vibrant communities that add significant value to the larger communities surrounding them. At the heart of these neighborhoods in both Madison and Milwaukee are five Community Learning Centers that Carmen envisioned, planned, developed, and currently directs.  These centers provide an institutional basis for individuals within these communities to access the resources they need to empower them to build their own futures. Carmen’s model goes far beyond housing to provide an integrated and holistic human service delivery system. In each Community Learning Center, services and programs are focused on education and employment. In changing the way in which the system works for people, Carmen has not only changed the outcomes, but also created a model of systemic justice. In these two very diverse communities there is no achievement gap, high school graduation rates are 98% and he has created a scholarship fund that has provided over $750,000 dollars to residents in higher education. Carmen’s model is now being called the Wisconsin Anti Poverty Model by a committee that is working to have it replicated on a national scale. 

Karen Menéndez Coller received her Masters in Public Health from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and her PhD from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Originally from El Salvador, her passion for close to 20 years has centered on how community-based programs can successfully improve social determinants, especially for Latino families in the US.  To this aim she has worked in multiple sectors, including state,  local government, and academia. She has received several sources of funding for her work including from  HRSA/ Maternal and Child Health Bureau, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and National Institutes of Health (NIH). Before taking on her role as Executive Director of Centro Hispano of Dane County, she was faculty at UCLA, where she oversaw collaborative projects looking at the impact of high-achieving high schools in Los Angeles, CA on families’ overall well-being. Karen took over as Executive Director of Centro Hispano of Dane County in  September 2013. Centro is the largest social service provider for Latinos in Dane County, WI. This year, she was named ” One of the 48 Most Powerful Latinos in WI” by Madison365/WI State Journal and was also named to  InBusiness Magazine’s  “40 under 40” Class of 2015.

The Badger Bioneers will be recognized and interviewed on-stage by Karen Lincoln Michel, Editor at Madison Magazine, Robert Chappell, Associate Publisher of Madison365, Amy Gannon, Co-Founder of The Doyenne Group, and Jonathan Zarov, Director of Marketing & Communications at the Madison Children’s Museum, at the 8th annual Badger Bioneers Conference on Thursday, November 10, 2016 at Union South at UW-Madison.
Learn more about the 2016 awardees in our recent press release.

The Badger Bioneers Selection Committee

The Selection Committee came together in summer 2016 to review dozens of community-generated nominations for Badger Bioneers. This group, made up of sustainability champions in their own right, took on the difficult task of narrowing down a pool of amazing nominations to just four people. A generous "thank you" to this year's Badger Bioneers Selection Committee:

  • Faustina Bohling, United Way of Dane County
  • Kshinte Braithwaite, Goodman Community Center
  • Beth Churchill, American Family Insurance
  • Steve Gilchrist, Edgewood College
  • Will Green, Mentoring Positives
  • Bill Herman, Aprilaire / Research Products Corporation
  • Brenna Holzhauer, Aldo Leopold Nature Center
  • Bevery Hutcherson, UW Health
  • Jim Lorman, Edgewood College
  • Gregg Potter, Project Kinect
  • Ben Reynolds, Reynolds Transfer
  • Nick Robinson, Trek Bicycle Corporation
  • Hedi Rudd, Center for Resilient Cities
  • Samira Salem, Forward Community Investments
  • Stephanie Steigerwaldt, Edgewood College Sustainability Leadership Program
  • Mikey Steward, UW Credit Union
  • Jason Vargo, UW-Madison Global Health Institute
  • Steve Whayland, OTIE Engineering