Category Archives: Rotary Club of Madison Guest Speaker

Wisconsin’s Economic Outlook

–submitted by Bill Haight; photo by Jeff Burkhart

Tom Still 9 20 2017

Tom Still pictured here with Club President Donna Hurd

This week’s speaker was Tom Still, President of the Wisconsin Technology Council, a non-partisan advisory group to the governor and legislature. In addition to policy development, the council’s activities include facilitating collaboration between companies and investors.

In promoting Wisconsin as a place to invest and locate business, Still cited the state’s many advantages such as affordable housing and water in strong supply, both of which can be big drawbacks in other states. He also pointed out that despite a perception of being a “high tax” state, Wisconsin’s taxes are steadily decreasing. Also, Wisconsin is finally getting on the national investment community’s radar, with numerous startup hubs, particularly in smaller cities like Eau Claire and La Crosse.

Wisconsin’s high quality of education is another plus. And in recent years the UW System has become more nimble to react to the type of graduate needed in the new economy. “The Ivory Tower is giving way to a more inclusive approach toward business,” he said.

On the state’s possible incentive for Foxconn, Still said: “I think it’s well worth pursuing.” We should ask “How much would you pay to essentially rebrand the state AND create jobs that support families while attracting young workers and offering underemployed workers a chance to retrain?” The Foxconn investment is less than one percent of the state GDP for one year – but spread over 15 years, he noted.

Possibly more important than the 13,000 promised Foxconn jobs are the indirect effects on the supply chain. “For example, a new glass factory or other manufacturer might spring from Foxconn’s material needs,” said Still.

In closing, Still invited the audience to check out 45 new companies presenting to investors at the November Early Stage Symposium (www.wisearlystage.com).

 

“How Do We Set Them Right For Future Success?”

–submitted by Carol Toussaint; photo by Jeff Burkhart

Katherine Magnuson 9 6 2017Wednesday’s speaker, Katherine Magnuson (pictured here with club President Donna Hurd) of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Institute for Research on Poverty, ended her speech with this question.  She had already provided insight into helping her Rotary audience understand just what is needed to focus on the early years in every child’s life.

At the heart of the issue is that early experience shapes brain development and that experience varies widely as a function of family social and economic factors.  Professor Magnuson had presented similar information to a Federal Reserve conference where she stated that to grow the economy we will need to focus on the first five years of a child’s life.

Identifying the skill and behavior gaps between high- and low – income kindergarteners, Professor Magnuson emphasized that closing the gaps is extremely difficult without the base of early childhood education.  If present when a child starts school, gaps continue through 3rd, 5th, 8th and 12th year.  To look at the skill and behavior gaps in reading, math, externalizing problem, etc., we learned these gaps need to be closed early.

The conclusions that early childhood is a foundation for human capital development and a productive investment were supplemented with graphs.  Our speaker provided documentation as to the vulnerability of children and families who need a range of supports and experiences to thrive.  All evidence points to the benefits from Early Childhood Education Programs, she said, and referenced studies published between 1960-2007 to help her audience grasp the significance of the opportunity to improve conditions for our children.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

The Face of Philanthropy in Madison

–submitted by Mary Borland; photo by Donna Beestman

Bob Sorge 8 30 17

From left: Neil Dinndorf; Bob Sorge, President Donna Hurd & Nasra Wehelie

On Wednesday, August 30, at the Park Hotel, fellow Rotarian and past club president (2005-06) Bob Sorge, spoke about trends in philanthropy at national, state and local levels; a few faces who have shaped our community through philanthropy; and the Madison Community Foundation’s 75th anniversary.

Community foundations are grant-making public charities dedicated to improving the lives of people in a defined local geographic area.  They bring together financial resources of individuals, families and businesses to support effective nonprofits in their communities.

The Madison Community Foundation (MCF) was established in 1942 and has $218M in assets. MCF grants $10M annually and has granted $200M over 25 years!  MCF consists of 631 Fundholders and 1,074 funds.

Philanthropy is really the idea of nurturing and the MCF nurtures Madison, Wisconsin. John F. Kennedy said that philanthropy is “…a jewel of an American tradition.”   Dane County residents are fortunate to have several large philanthropists contributing to our quality of life via the arts, community development, the environment, learning and via organizational capacity.  These five areas make up the MCF’s Impact Focus areas.

American’s provide $390B in donations across the country!  Millennials are donating more than Baby Boomers and significantly more than Generation Xers.  Here in Wisconsin, we rank 44th among other states in our overall giving, meaning we donate on average, about 3.4% of our discretionary income to charity.  On the upside, Wisconsin ranks 9th among states in being willing to help someone in need.

Bob spoke about some of the area’s philanthropists, including the Goodman Brothers whom lived frugally and gave big!

The MFC has provided grants over the years and continues to do so to increase the quality of life for residents of Dane County. Rotarians are exceptionally generous, giving over $220M across the globe.

We wish MFC a happy 75th anniversary.  You can learn more about MFC at www.madisongives.org.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

The Cap Times Looks Ahead

–submitted by Moses Altsech

Paul FanlundWhen The Capital Times was founded, the US had just entered World War I. Committed to “reporting the unvarnished truth,” The Capital Times evolved over the years, tackling important social issues and adapting to new technology. Founded by William Evjue (whom only Bob LaFollette got away with calling “my dear Billy”), the paper became known for progressive opinions and being part of the fabric of our Madison community. An advocate for women’s rights and workers’ rights, a ferocious enemy of the Ku Klux Klan at a time when the hate group was more or less mainstream, a bitter foe of McCarthyism and an opponent of the Vietnam War, Evjue defined the character of The Capital Times and, through his foundation, made a real and lasting difference in the lives of many of our citizens.

In addition to its excellent journalism, The Capital Times continues to innovate under the capable leadership of Paul Fanlund, an experienced journalist in his own right, cut from the same cloth as the paper’s founder and supported by a great staff of seasoned journalists.

The upcoming Capital Times Idea Fest will bring together dozens of acclaimed leaders from politics, education, journalism and other fields, engaging in lively discussions on political issues, culture, food, sports and a multitude of other topics. The plan is to make this an annual event, open to anyone who wants ringside seats to insightful, thought-provoking conversations.

The Capital Times lives up to its proud history and continues to be a relevant, trusted source of journalism and community engagement. Here’s to another 100 years of success!

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

Cap Times 100

Stories from Our State Capitol’s History

–submitted by Linda Baldwin; photo by Donna Beestman

Michael Edmonds 8 16 17“Fraternizing between Republicans and Democrats in those days was not seen as a treasonable offense.”       —Governor Gaylord Nelson (1950’s)

In just a short while, historian Michael Edmonds weaved a four-century tale of political intrigue, heroism and leadership in the 100-year-old Capitol, its short-lived predecessors and in early territorial days. Throughout, I was struck by the vision, passion and integrity (in most) of our past leaders in Wisconsin.

Michael surely expressed our hopes in this closing statement. “For 100 years, the Capitol dome has been big enough to accommodate a broad spectrum of conflicting opinions.  Let’s hope that it continues to shelter a fearless sifting and winnowing of ideas, from all sides of every question for a long time to come.  That’s exactly what the Founding Fathers had in mind.  And whatever else the Capitol may be – art museum, office building, tourist destination – it is first and foremost a symbol of the American experiment in self-government.”

Takes from the Tales of the Capitol –

  • The first two Capital Buildings burned down…the third and current building was completed in 1917.
  • Wisconsin was the first state to enact an equal rights act in 1921 and was the first state to approve the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote.
  • Local architect Lew Porter literally worked himself to death, ensuring that the new Capitol building would be built well to precise specifications.
  • Sam Pierce, a Pullman porter, became the Governor’s receptionist in 1922. He served 5 governors with wit and grace, and led Madison’s small black community.
  • The rebirth of the Democratic party in the 1940’s was led by a fringe group of women and men…from which future leaders Gaylord Nelson, Pat Lucey, John Reynolds and William Proxmire would launch their political careers.
  • Polarization and bipartisanship flamed in the Capitol throughout the 20th century – McCarthyism in the 40’s, Vietnam in the 60’s, earlier – Marxists, Progressives and Stalwarts – they all faced off in the Capitol and their differences were often even wider than ours today.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

Science is Fun Returns to Rotary

–submitted by Ben Hebebrand; photo by Donna Beestman

Bassam3While the denial of climate change has prompted outcries of “Science Is Real,” Madisonians have for the past 48 years primarily embraced the idea that “Science is Fun.” This is a credit due to the work of Dr. Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, who presented at the Rotary Club of Madison’s August 9 meeting which also signifies the Club’s Family Day.

The presentation, which was attended by 85 guests, the vast majority of whom were children or grandchildren of Rotarians, indeed elicited many fun moments around science experiments mixed with some deep educational and social messages.

On the more serious side, Dr. Shakhashiri reminded the audience that the Number One priority of the work of science and scientific experimentation is about sustaining “Earth and its people.” Specifically, Dr. Shakhashiri cited issues such as population growth, availability of finite resources such as water, climate change, malnutrition, the spreading of disease, war, and deadly violence as the kind of issues that scientists embrace and actively work on bringing about solutions. Above all, Dr. Shakhashiri said, the pursuit and knowledge of science is an essential human right. “Everybody has the right to benefit from scientific and technological progress.” In addition to religion, Dr. Shakhashiri counts science as the “strongest force in society.”

Dr. Shakhashiri, who began his career at UW-Madison in 1970, has always made community outreach an integral part of his work. The “Science is Fun” campaign is a commitment to elicit awe, wonder, and curiosity in science among people of all ages with a particular affinity toward enlightening the youngest members of society – our children. Dr. Shakhashiri said that especially among children, science can elicit emotional responses.

This was the case at the Rotary meeting as Dr. Shakhashiri went about some of his delightfully wacky and magical science tricks, whereby liquids changed color by mixing potassium iodine with lead nitrates. He had the children in the audience in stitches as colors of the liquid frequently changed. He appealed to the audience to hone their observation skills.

Above all, Dr. Shakhashiri’s work is rooted in the notion that education is the great equalizer. “Science literacy enlightens and enables people to make informed choices, to be skeptical, and to reject shams, unproven conjecture, and to avoid being bamboozled into making foolish decisions where matters of science and technology are concerned.”

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

Coach Healy Inspires and Motivates

–submitted by Roger Phelps; photo by John Bonsett-Veal

healy cropped

We were talking softball at the July 19 Rotary meeting.  Why?  Because our guest speaker was the UW best winning softball coach in the program’s 19-year history, Yvette Healy.  That’s why!

Coach Healy approached the Rotary podium pretty much the way she approaches her job as UW’s softball head coach – with a ton of energy, inspiration and positive thinking.

A native of Chicago, she is in her 8th year as UW Head Coach.  Prior to moving to Madison, she was the head coach at Loyola University.  Moving to Wisconsin wasn’t easy, she comments.  She was an ardent Bears and Cubs fan before arriving.  But, she’s adapting and excelling in her job.

She was hired to turn around a struggling UW softball team, and turn it around she did.  Under her leadership, the team has consistently moved up in the ranking and now eyes a Big Ten Championship ranking next year. She owes a lot of her motivation approaches to the inspiration she has gained through a handful of inspirational authors whose words echo in her coaching:  “Do something that scares you;” “Just say yes;” “Believe it;” “If you have a big enough WHY, you’ll find a way HOW;” “Take action.  Don’t fill your head with possibilities of negative outcomes;” “If your dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough;” and “It’s not the best team that wins.  It’s the team the plays the best.”

She made a special point of citing Madison itself as one of the advantages she has in recruiting top talent to UW.  They see this special place and want to be here.

Coach Healy left her Rotarian audience with three final thoughts:  1) When asked whether you’ve accomplished something, never say no.  Say Not Yet!; 2) Show pride of the team you lead. Tell each of them you’re proud of them, and tell them why; and 3) Imagine how good things could be!

Did you miss our meeting week?  Watch the video here.