Category Archives: Rotary Club of Madison Guest Speaker

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!


Recent Refugee Resettlement in Madison

–submitted by Stan Inhorn; photo by Mike Engelberger

Dawn Berney 6 12 2017

Club President Michelle McGrath with guest speaker and fellow Rotarian Dawn Berney

In 2015, Dawn Berney became executive director of the Madison chapter of Jewish Social Services and was immediately faced with the problem of settling Middle Eastern and African refugees in the community.  Although Jewish Social Services (JSS) has a long history of assisting refugees from the Holocaust, from Cuba and from the Soviet Union, the current wave of people fleeing conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Peoples Republic of the Congo raised unique challenges. With guidance from the national organization, the Madison chapter reached out to other agencies and non-profits to plan for cooperation in settling families in Dane County.

In 2016, JSS and Lutheran Social Services submitted applications to the State Department for assistance in carrying out this mission. The State Department gave permission to each organization to settle 50 persons. To place the problem in its proper perspective, consider that currently there are 20 million refugees in the world and 30 million in displaced-persons camps. Each individual who wants to come to the U.S. has to undergo background checks that proceed through 21 steps carried out by several federal agencies. The State Department decides who will be admitted. The local agency must then be prepared to provide a furnished apartment, financial support, child care, English as a second language, clothing, job preparation and general acculturation.

Commitment to providing these services places a great burden on the local providers. Volunteers are needed to help with moving, education, shopping, securing jobs, training in money handling and banking, health care and a whole host of other issues involving filling out forms for getting resident status. Fortunately, Madison has a long history of collaboration. Many Arabic speakers have stepped forward, as have lawyers, students, baby sitters, school district employees, people serving as guides and a host of other volunteers. In less than one year, 24 people have been settled in Madison. This is a remarkable achievement for the JSS–an organization with a staff of only nine employees.

Coach Chryst Motivates UW Football Players

–submitted by Ben Hebebrand; photo by Mike Engelberger

Coach Chryst 6 7 2017

From left: Club President MichelleMcGrath; Coach Paul Chryst and Rotarian Mary Ellen O’Brien

Wisconsin Badgers Head Football Coach Paul Chryst was quick not to engage in any speculation as to how the UW football team will fare this season, proclaiming coaching wisdoms such as “focus on the now, and not the then,” or “you play the next upcoming game and you focus on that game.” Stressing his one-game-at-a-time philosophy, he stated that “we have 12 games and we hope to have the opportunity to play more games.” In a matter-of fact-voice devoid of any hubris, he added there always is the possibility “that we have an opportunity to win every game.”

Chryst, who lettered as a quarterback from 1986 to 1988 as a football player at UW and served as offensive coordinator at UW from 2005 through 2011, told the Rotary Club of Madison at its June 7 meeting how “blessed” he is to have the job in Madison. “I always thought I was lucky to be coaching anywhere, but to do so here in Madison adds so many layers,” he said.

Chryst reminded his audience that his one-game-at-a-time philosophy was reaffirmed to him when pundits talked of “gloom and doom” last year in light of UW’s difficult schedule. “I just don’t know what is going to happen this year,” he said, adding that he and his staff and team started training the Tuesday after Memorial Day, “doing the little things to get ready. We are putting in a lot of time in the weight room.”

As concerns any specific lineup for next year, Chryst stressed that “we have a lot of players coming back,” hinting at the possibility that not many freshmen will see significant action. He singled out the long-snapper position as one that will be filled by a freshman. In addressing the team’s quarterback position, Chryst did not mince words in proclaiming Alex Hornibrook, who started last year 9 games as UW quarterback, as the preferred choice. “He has a chance to be really good,” he said, adding that developing one of two freshmen as back-up quarterback would be a priority.

In answering questions from Rotarians and visitors, Chryst addressed issues ranging from revenues generated by the football program to academic standards for athletes.

As regards revenues, Chryst was clear that the Big Ten network does dictate some decisions, including the decision to play the season opener on a Friday, a day traditionally reserved for high school football. “They don’t ask me about the schedule,” Chryst replied, further explaining that the Big Ten Network television deal most likely is the cause for scheduling peculiarities. Chryst, however, was very firm in letting the audience know that the “TV money goes to athletic departments at universities but not at UW,” inferring that the university system shares in the revenues being generated.

In addressing academic standards, Chryst claimed that “Wisconsin has a smaller recruitment pool because of academic standards,” He stressed the programs’ commitment to academics, singling out academic advisors, learning specialists and tutors working diligently with student-athletes. An outcome of this dedication is the program’s graduation rate. “We have been in the Top 5 in graduation rates in the last 5 years.”

Chryst closed his presentation in speaking about motivation – how he as coach might motivate student-athletes. As a coach, “I am motivated by my players,” and as regards to motivating players, Chryst adopted a no-nonsense attitude: “I am not sure about the rah-rah speeches. The real key is to ask a kid why ‘are you doing what you are doing…’”

Tolkien & Lewis: A Meaningful Conversation

–submitted by Linn Roth; photo by John Bonsett-Veal

Chip Duncan 5 31 2017

(Back row from left: David Hecht, Rotarian Bill White, Chip Duncan, Club President Michelle McGrath, Maxine Austin & Dennis Dresang; Front row from left: Kendra Benedict, Jeanette Yoder & Linda Baumann)

At today’s meeting, documentary filmmaker Chip Duncan gave us background information on his new film, “TOLKIEN & LEWIS – Myth, Imagination and the Quest for Meaning.”  Many members are familiar with some of Tolkien and Lewis’s works (e.g. The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia) from their childhoods, but at that period in our lives, we likely did not contemplate some of the profound topics raised in today’s talk.  In contrast, Duncan’s film seeks to explore broad religious and philosophical issues that have evolved through myth and ritual and that were of deep personal interest to both authors.

In the early twentieth century, Tolkien and Lewis were well-known Oxford academics and authors who were friends and members of a literary club called “The Inklings.”  In 1931, Tolkien invited Lewis and fellow Inkling Hugo Dyson to dinner, and an eight and one-half hour discussion followed that resulted in Lewis’s conversion to Christianity.  Key to this conversion was an examination of the powers of myth and ritual and how they can lead an individual to his/her belief in a “truth,” as manifested in a belief in a religious or philosophical system or lack thereof.  Of course, this is a deeply personal and unique exploration that everyone must make on their own, and this film suggests individuals use imagination as a necessary tool to make that journey.

“TOLKIEN & LEWIS – Myth, Imagination and the Quest for Meaning” will be shown nationally on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) this fall.

On a personal note, my wife and I have visited an Oxford pub, “The Eagle and Child,” which started serving customers in 1650.  Tolkien, Lewis and The Inklings regularly met there, and referred to the pub as the “Bird and Baby.”

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

MARC (Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities)

–submitted by Vikki Enright; photo by John Bonsett-Veal

Elizabeth Hudson 5 17 17

From left: Club President Michelle McGrath, Elizabeth Hudson & Rotarian Janet Piraino

Elizabeth Hudson, who was appointed by Wisconsin’s Governor in 2014 to create the Wisconsin Office of Children’s Mental Health, was our featured speaker on May 17. Hudson discussed the science of Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) and how early adversity, before age 18, can lead to ongoing struggles in adulthood. She discussed how food insecurity, poor health and toxic stress attack the developing nervous system. When neurodevelopment is compromised, anger, depression and poor health can make kids struggle in school, and as adults, they may continue to struggle in the workplace.

In her work with the Wisconsin Office of Children’s Mental Health, her team received a MARC Grant (Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities) and is engaging with the business community so they learn how to implement policies that help employees be more productive and offer a supportive environment for working parents.

Hudson also discussed how the Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Small Business Development is addressing the issues of childhood development and health with the understanding that healthy families grow business. She acknowledged the efforts of Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) who was in attendance.

Hudson outlined some leadership goals for trauma-informed care. They include changes in corrections, instruction in school and recognizing the importance of incorporating mindfulness into business culture. In her work, Hudson has learned that resilient children thrive because they have access to a trusted adult who listens to their concerns. The audience followed up with several questions and comments. There was agreement that adverse childhood experience has always been with us, but the way we recognize and act on these issues has changed as we are more open to discuss problems and try to find solutions.

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

Wisconsin’s Research Universities: A Case for Reinvestment

–submitted by Andrea Kaminski; photos by Mike Engelberger

Rebecca Blank 5 3 2017    Mark Mone 5 3 2017

Rotarians heard from not one, but two University of Wisconsin chancellors on May 3. UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank and UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone teamed up to talk about collaborations between their campuses and the challenges they face in maintaining the high quality our universities are known for. The two chancellors have been on the road with this presentation, having also spoken to the Milwaukee Rotary and the Wisconsin Technology Council. Mone is a fellow Rotarian.

UW-Madison has 43,000 students who hail from all 72 counties in Wisconsin, all 50 states, and 121 nations. This year they have a record number of applicants. Blank said the university has excellent retention and graduation rates, and less than half of its students graduate with debt because the university has focused on helping students finish in four years.

UW-Milwaukee has 26,037 students, 84 percent of whom come from Wisconsin. There were 5,300 graduates in 2016. Three-quarters of graduates continue to live and work in Wisconsin when they finish. The most diverse campus in the UW System, UW-Milwaukee has the most students who are veterans. Forty percent of its students are the first in their families to go to college. Mone noted that by 2023 the state is projected to have a six-figure worker shortage. He showed how UW-Milwaukee is producing graduates in the four areas most needed in the Wisconsin workforce: healthcare; business; computer science; and engineering and science.

Both chancellors credit the collaborations and pooling of resources between their campuses for making it possible for a state of Wisconsin’s size to have two great research universities. The two campuses are anchors along a 400-mile “IQ Corridor” between Chicago and the Twin Cities, which is known for its research, industry and technology.

The chancellors gave several examples of collaborations that have pushed the level of knowledge and innovation in the Midwest. Examples include the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences and UW-Madison Sea Grant Institute and energy partnerships funded in part by Johnson Controls centered at the UW-Madison Wisconsin Energy Institute. Mone noted that faculty on his campus alone partner with such Wisconsin industry leaders as Rockwell Automation, Harley Davidson, Kohl’s, Manpower, Northwestern Mutual and WEC energy group.

The chancellors see a major challenge in continuing to attract and retain top talent to uphold the UW’s reputation for excellence. The UW System’s budget has been cut in five of the past six state budgets. Blank noted that currently the state provides about 15 percent of UW’s budget, compared to about 45 percent 20-30 years ago.

Fortunately, the biennial budget proposed this year by Governor Walker includes a modest increase for UW System. It’s not enough to make up for the cuts, but the chancellors stressed that it is greatly needed and appreciated.

The chancellors outlined the following priorities the state should implement to keep the UW strong:

  1. Reinvest in the University as a way to invest in the state economy and workforce;
  2. Provide compensation increases to attract and retain talent. UW faculty and staff have seen on average a 0.3 percent compensation increase, compared to two percent at other major state universities. The proposed budget provides compensation increases but they are tied to savings from self-insurance;
  3. Authorize building projects, in particular those that are funded with program revenue. Budget-neutral examples are the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine parking ramp and renovation of the Slichter Residence Hall.
  4. Don’t pit state universities against one another through performance-based funding. The campuses have different missions and serve different types of students. Each campus’s own performance can be compared from year to year, but it should not be compared with that of other campuses.

The chancellors said the UW is approaching the “tipping point” financially. Faculty and staff compensations are almost 19 percent behind those of peer institutions. Yet every state dollar invested in the UW generates three to four dollars in expenditures that stimulate the economy. And that does not even figure in the long-term economic impact of the university’s graduates who continue to live and work in the state. Truly, we invest in our state by reinvesting in our great state university.

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

Transformation of Policing

–submitted by Jocelyn Riley; photo by Valerie Johnson

Noble Wray 4 12 2017

From Left: Susan Schmitz and Doug Poland with Noble Wray

Former Rotarian Noble Wray spoke at the April 12 Downtown Rotary meeting at the Park Hotel on the topic “From Leading the Madison Police Department to Leading the U.S. Dept. of Justice’s Policing Practices and Accountability Initiative: What I have Learned about Community Policing.”  Wray served as the Madison Police Department’s Chief of Police from 2004 to 2013.  After his retirement, Wray was asked by the Obama administration to lead a national U.S. Department of Justice taskforce on policing practices.

Wray began his remarks by asking for a moment of silence in memory of the Wisconsin State Trooper who died on the job this week.  Then he asked “How do you change an institution?”  He cited previous commissions that attempted to “reform” police work.  But we are still faced with the age-old, intractable problems of poverty, limited access to housing, and discrimination.  Wray urged that changes in policing be driven by transformation rather than reform.  “Reform comes from the outside,” he said, “as a result of something that went wrong.”  He said that transformation, on the other hand, comes from inside.  “We have to be constantly improving,” he said.

Wray said that in order to transform police work, “courageous police leadership” is needed, as well as “rank-and-file support.”  Wray also said that the road to improving policing always involves community-oriented policing and that it can’t come in a top-down approach from the federal government.  “Washington should be the catalyst to make sure that change happens at the local level.”

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