Category Archives: 5. Members

Rotary Scholars and Their Mentors Get to Know Each Other –Picnic Style

submitted by Sharyn Alden; photos by Dean Nelson & Karl Wellensiek


The sun shined brightly July 1st, after a tornado watch lifted, on one of Rotary’s most festive traditions –the annual Rotary Scholar Mentor Picnic held lakeside at the home of Ed and Nancy Young.

There were multiple tables of picnic food choices –segmented further by categories. There were appetizers and salads, a lively grilling station with brats and burgers fresh off the grill, and a dessert table laden with cakes, cookies and luscious chocolate delights.


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Beyond the good eats and boat rides, and overall festive atmosphere, what most of us came for was this exceptional opportunity to get to know each other better.

Melanie Ramey, former President of Rotary (1998-1999), a five-time mentor to Rotary scholars, is currently a mentor to Matida Bojang.  Ramey said, “The annual picnic provides a great opportunity for scholars to become better acquainted with their mentors and also meet other scholars with similar academic or cultural backgrounds.”

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This was the second Rotary Scholar Mentor Picnic for Eddie Larson, whose mentor is Majid Sarmadi. Larson, who will be a junior this fall majoring in actuarial science at UW-Madison, said, “Rotary as an organization offers many excellent networking opportunities. But the annual picnic brings together people of so many diverse backgrounds, it’s a terrific venue for meeting and making new friends.”

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Seated at a picnic table, gazing out at Lake Monona, first-time picnic attendee, and scholar, Cassie Ferguson plans to major in early childhood education because she said teachers, from elementary grades through high school had a strong impact on her life. “I want to give back,” she said simply while enjoying the view of the Capitol in the distance.

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Conversations like this, at a casual picnic with no specific agenda other than to enjoy yourself, can be stepping stones to planting seeds for life-long friendships between scholars and mentors.

Our thanks to Ed and Nancy Young for hosting this year’s 2018 Scholar Mentor Picnic; to “Picnic Planner” Dean Nelson; Scholar Mentor Committee Co-Chairs Rob Van den Berg & Cheryl Wittke & Chair Emeritus Ellie Schatz and to members of our Kitchen Committee for working their magic at the grill.  The event was a great success! 



New Member Event at HotelRED

–submitted by Mary Romolino; photos by Jorge Hidalgo

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Photo 1: Charles Tubbs and Jeff Quinto; Photo 2: Haley Saalsaa, Jason Ilstrup, Karla Thennes, Leslie Lochner & Craig Bartlett; Photo 3: Leslie Overton, Jennifer Weitzman & Mary Romolino

20161213_080843It was a game of Find the Member Who… that had experienced Rotarians and new club members alike learning fun facts about each other’s unique and sometimes quirky life experiences at the new member event on December 13 at HotelRED. Thanks to Jason Beren, who organized the game, attendees mixed with literally every person in the room in order to match the experiences listed on our game sheets with the Rotarian who lived that experience. It was a terrific way to get to know our newest members and learn surprising facts about those we’ve known for years.

With members like ours, it’s no wonder our club is so dynamic! For instance, new members Jorge Hidalgo marched in President Reagan’s Inauguration Parade, Chris Rich saw a ghost at age eight, a sighting confirmed later in life by his mother; and Jennifer Weitzman has donated a kidney. Leslie Overton started at UW Madison as a music major but instead became a CPA and lived in Washington D.C. for years before returning to Madison.  Jeff Quinto’s family motto is “Often wrong, but never in doubt,” while Karla Thennes’s Minnesota-dwelling parents gave their children names beginning with the letter K. By the time Karla was due they were running low on names. Luckily Karla’s dad saw Miss Minnesota on TV and you guessed it, her name was Karla with a K.

When you meet a new club member, please extend a warm welcome and discover the experiences which led them to where they are now and to our club.  And, thanks to Jason Ilstrup and HotelRED for hosting our event.



Wine Fellowship Event on January 18

–submitted by Mike Wilson; photos by Mike Wilson


Our club’s Wine Fellowship met at Mike Wilson’s home for a BYO wine tasting on Monday the 18th January 2016.  We snacked on bread (Whole Food’s; Italian, Ancient Grain, and cranberry/walnut) and crackers, with grapes and chocolate-covered strawberries.  We also had some Beautiful Bruschetta’s, warm Rachel Ray spiced shrimp on sticks, two Marvellous Marieke Gouda cheeses, a triple cream beautiful Brie served with sliced apples, an artichoke dip (with some tasters requesting the recipe) and salami/pepperoni wrapped Mozzarella straws.

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Photo 1: Becky Steinhoff, Sandy Corbett, Joy Gander & Cheryl Wittke; Photo 2: Karl Wellensiek, Mary Janet Wellensiek, Meryl Mixtacki & Steve Mixtacki; Photo 3: Dana Corbett, Bob Winding, Mike McKay & Mandy McKay

Going with these were some marvelous wines sorted into groups.  These included an Alsatian Pinot Gris and a Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc, followed by a Miner Chardonnay and a Guigal Cotes du Rhone white blend.  We next tried an Unti Segromigno (Sangiovese and Montepulciano), an Adelaida Cinsaut, and a Gnarly Head Merlot that were all Wonderful Wines.  The last series was Owen Roe Ex Umbris Columbia Valley Syrah and an old (2002) Amon-Ra Shiraz from Australia (hence Shiraz and not Syrah), and a Decoy Zinfandel.

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I rated 4 of the wines as exceptional and the rest as excellent quality, and we all had a great time.

Aaron Olver Shares Future of University Research Park

–submitted by Valerie Johnson; photo by Mike Engelberger

Olver AaronBAaron Olver previewed the future of University Research Park with Rotarians Wednesday, January 13.

Olver is the Managing Director of the University Research Park. Established in 1984, University Research Park, a UW-Madison affiliate, is an internationally recognized research and technology park that supports early-stage and growth-oriented businesses in a range of sectors including engineering, computational and life sciences.

Olver shared the strategy underpinning the park’s direction.  It has three purposes: support UW-Madison via real estate; commercialize UW research; and make technology transfer more fruitful.

Originally the park wanted to attract employers, Olver said.  Rather they had more success attracting small entreprenerus.  We accidentally become a real estate developer, unique nationally, he added. He answered the question of the biggest challenge being transportation, since so many professionals live off mass transit lines.

He closed by outlining the park’s agenda:

  • Reposition @1403, a building next to Wisconsin Institute of Discovery (WID) on University Ave, as a campus-focused entrepreneurial hub
  • Add density through development of large tenants such as Exact Science
  • Expand food cart program
  • Attract/Develop amenities such as coffee, fitness
  • Invest in programming/events and community making
  • Make green spaces more usable
  • Conceptual master plan for URP 2, second research park
  • Attract development partners for areas not core to URPs mission

Olver previously served as Director of Economic Development for the City of Madison. Prior to joining the City, Olver spearheaded Wisconsin’s economic development efforts as Secretary of Commerce under Governor Jim Doyle.

Olver earned an undergraduate degree in Economics from UW-Madison and a graduate degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Oxford University, Oxford, UK, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

For more, visit

CLICK to watch the video of this presentation on our club’s YouTube Channel.

New Member Networking Event December 10

–submitted by Haley Saalsaa; photos by Dave Ewanowski


Club President Ellsworth Brown and Haley Saalsaa

On the morning of December 10 25 of us got together for a new member event at the Blackhawk Country club. We were welcomed with fresh hot pastries accompanied by coffee and orange juice.


From left: Jorge Hidalgo, Mike Casey, Larry Collins & Carol Goedken

We took the first thirty minutes to talk amongst ourselves and then the fun really began. Jason Beren orchestrated a Bingo game deriving answers from surveys we had all previously taken. It was a unique networking event and fun to try something new. Often times networking is the same and discussions become routine. The bingo game allowed us to find out unique things about our fellow Rotarians that we may not have known before. For example, did you know that our president Ellsworth Brown played cymbals in high-school? He could put on quite a show incorporating CO2 for special effects OR that TJ Blitz is a trained stage actor?


From Left: Sandy Morales, TJ Blitz, Craig Bartlett & Tom Popp



From left: Mary Borland, Ellsworth Brown, Nick Curran

These are the types of things that likely would not have come into conversation if we weren’t playing an exciting game of Bingo! Jason threw a great event and I look forward to this spring for more events to come.


Fred Mohs Tells His Father’s Story

–submitted by Rich Leffler; photo by Loretta Himmelsbach

Fred MohsA 11 18 15As a three-time beneficiary of the Mohs surgical procedure at the Mohs Clinic of UW Hospital, this reporter was especially interested to hear Fred Mohs talk about his father, Dr. Frederic Mohs, Sr. Born in 1910, Dr. Mohs was a medical pioneer. Although he intended to be a radio engineer when radio was the popular technological rage, he got a college job at Birge Hall at the UW. A prominent cancer researcher introduced Dr. Mohs to the work being done in the 1930s on cancer: what exactly was it and how could it be treated? His mentor changed the trajectory of young Fred’s career. He went to medical school.

Dr. Mohs was an admirer of Thomas A. Edison, and he used Edison’s technique of intensive experimentation until he found that zinc chloride in a paste could kill cancer cells while still preserving cellular structure. Much of Dr. Mohs’s work was funded by WARF’s first research grants. He applied this compound to tumors of the skin to kill the cancer, while allowing a pathologist to determine whether the cells on the periphery were cancerous or normal. Very large and invasive tumors, which other surgeons were unable to excise, were now susceptible to treatment.

Dr. Mohs early-on learned the difficulty of communicating medical science to the general public. An interview with the Wisconsin State Journal about his technique resulted in a headline: “Cancer Cure Discovered.” Colleagues were outraged. His license to practice medicine was threatened. Eventually, especially after Dr. Mohs successfully treated a prominent Madison physician for a very large neck tumor, the value of the Mohs procedure was generally recognized.

Today, the Mohs procedure is widely used. In combination with an onsite pathologist, and working closely with plastic surgeons when needed, Mohs clinics allow surgeons to remove skin cancer with a minimally invasive and disfiguring procedure. Thank you Dr. Mohs, and thanks to Fred for telling us the story.

Did you miss our meeting this week?  CLICK to watch the video.