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Meet the 2015 Slate of Candidates for the Board of Directors

Friday, January 16, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Megan Purtell
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2015 Slate of Candidates

Voting will occur during the 2015 Annual Membership meeting on February 12, 2015.

Pam Christenson
Economic Development Director
Madison Gas and Electric (I)

Job description: As the Economic Development Director for a local gas and electric utility company, I get involved in projects, programs and partnerships that make the Madison area a great place for employers, employees and entrepreneurs. My position allows me to work with businesses, education and government leaders to ensure well planned and beneficial economic growth occurs in the MGE service area, with a strong emphasis on infill and redevelopment activities.

WEDA Involvement: I have been a WEDA member for over 10 years, serving on the board of directors from 2007 – 2010 and again from 2011 to 2014. I currently served as the co-chair of the Legislative Committee, as well as being a member of the annual Governor’s conference planning committee, the Executive Director search committee and several spring/fall conference planning committees.

Education: University of Wisconsin – Madison, BA in Journalism and Mass Communication

Your reasons for running for the WEDA Board: WEDA continues to move in the right direction, especially when it comes to raising the awareness and visibility of the state’s economic development practitioners with members of the Wisconsin legislature and local elected officials. I would appreciate the chance to serve another term on the WEDA Board to help the organization continue to grow and reach its full potential – especially in the government affairs arena through my efforts with the Legislative Committee.

 Robert Duffy
Economic Development Director
City of Oconomowoc (I)

Job description: Currently serve as City of Oconomowoc Economic Development Director. Current projects being undertaken at this time are: downtown revitalization, business expansion and retention, destination branding & tourism, community development initiatives, as well as promoting Oconomowoc’s sustainability efforts as an economic development attraction strategy.

WEDA Involvement: I currently serve on the WEDA Board of Directors, as well as the Legislative Committee. I have been a WEDA member during my tenure as an economic development profession. Have testified in Madison for WEDA related to telecommunications legislation, attended various conferences, as well as hosted a fall conference in Oconomowoc.

Education: Bachelor of Science degree in Geography/Urban & Area Development from the University of Wisconsin Whitewater Masters degree in Public Administration from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Wisconsin Real Estate Sales license holder Completed IEDC coursework necessary for to take the CEcD exam in 2015.

Your reasons for running for the WEDA Board: It has been an honor to be a WEDA Board member and want to continue the momentum moving forward. As an economic development professional, I feel strongly about giving back to the profession, and to serve as a resource for Wisconsin’s progress through the efforts of WEDA. I believe I can assist WEDA in accomplishing its goals of building relationships, continued membership professional development, and the legislative initiatives that support growth and prosperity in Wisconsin. It would be an honor and privilege to continue to be a part WEDA’s leadership team and its progress.
James Hanke
Manager, Economic Development & Community Services
NSPW / Xcel Energy

Job description: Manage Xcel Energy’s economic development projects and programs within the 233 communities we serve throughout western Wisconsin. Also provide customer and community services to the greater Eau Claire Area.

WEDA Involvement: I have been a WEDA member since 2001, and have served as a member of WEDA’s Legislative Committee since 2010.

Education: UW-Eau Claire, B.A. Political Science, 2001, Penn State World Campus, Master’s Certification – Community & Economic Development

Your reasons for running for the WEDA Board: My interest in running for the WEDA Board revolves around my interest in giving back to an organization that has provided significant support to economic development practitioners in Wisconsin. WEDA is an important organization in terms of educating economic development professionals and advocating for economic development in Wisconsin. WEDA also provides an additional outlet to provide support to the communities, County and Regional EDO’s we support within our service territory.

Carol Karls
Manager - Business & Community Development
Wisconsin Public Service Corporation(I)

Job description: I work with existing businesses, local communities, and development corporations to make sure the businesses served by Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) remain viable and have opportunities to expand. I also work with state, regional and local leaders in helping attract new investment and jobs into communities WPS serves. And help to prepare communities so they are ready for business growth by working on existing business expansion and new business attraction projects. WPS serves 19 counties in Wisconsin with 445,000 electric & gas customers.

WEDA Involvement: I am running for a 2nd term on the WEDA Board. In 2014 I served on the Executive, Director Search, and Legislative Committees. I chair the Bylaws Subcommittee and I’m serving as a Mentor for the new Young Professionals group.

Education: I have a Bachelor’s in Urban Design from UW-Green Bay. In my career, I’ve had continuing education opportunities in: Real Estate Development/ULI; Downtown Redevelopment/Georgia Institute & National Main Street Program; International Trade/US Chamber; Basic Economic Development/AEDC; Basic, Credit Analysis, Strategic Planning, Real Estate Reuse, Marketing & Attraction/IEDC

Your reasons for running for the WEDA Board: I’d like to serve a 2nd term o
n the WEDA Board to help facilitate new revenue, opportunities and partnerships that will support WEDA’s staff which will bring the organization to its next level of advancing the profession/network/support for economic development professionals in WI.

Brent McFarland
Chief Operating Officer
LDF Business Development Corporation

Job description: Creating strategic business partnerships, starting businesses, generate profits, and create jobs in and around the Lac du Flambeau Indian reservation. As of this date we have started 8 new companies, created over 30 jobs, and are operating at a profit. Our 2015 goals forecast creation of over 70 new jobs, with gross revenue exceeding $30MM

WEDA Involvement: I’ve been to the Governors conference and engage member of the board at different events around the state. Frankly, we need more engagement from the tribes and that’s my motive for seeking a role with the board. Plus I believe this organization has potential to bring real value to the communities across WI that are underserved

Education:  BA Ripon College in History, with emphasis in Economics. Have held NASDA securities licenses 3, 4, 6 and 63 as Registered Investment Advisor, as well as Life and Health Licenses

Your reasons for running for the WEDA Board: I see this as an opportunity to be involved in service on a state level. It is a group that is looking for solutions to business development, which I know something about. And it’s an opportunity to give back. Lastly, I hope to help educate on what tribes can do for the state and surrounding communities.

 Lynn Nelson
Executive Director
West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (WCWRPC)

Job description: Serve as the administrative head of WCWRPC. Advise the Commission on policy matters, oversee regional and local assistance programs, manage resources, and implement the annual work program. Act as the principal conduit between the Commission and the local units of government in the region, as well as represent the Commission in dealings with state and federal agencies. Sit on the Board of Directors for Momentum West and the West Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board.

WEDA Involvement: I have attended WEDA conferences since 1992. I would now like to increase my participation and give back to the profession by becoming a board member.

Education: Master of Public Administration (MPA) from the University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Also certified as an Economic Development Finance Professional by the National Development Council (NDC).

Your reasons for running for the WEDA Board: As a person who has worked in the economic development field for over 17 years, I now feel I have adequate knowledge and experience to give back to the organization and state. I also believe west central Wisconsin needs greater representation on the board, and that there are several issues occurring at the state and federal level that could be addressed through WEDA for the betterment of economic development statewide.


 Mary Rajek
Economic Development Associate
Redevelopment Resources

Job description: I joined the profession in 2008, where my work at both county and regional levels provided me with a thorough appreciation for the challenges facing local economic development practitioners, their organizations and constituents. Since joining Redevelopment Resources, I have been engaged in a range of economic development services for public as well as private sector clients. Similar to public sector practitioners, my daily tasks may run the gamut – from marketing to program development; from market research to redevelopment implementation.

WEDA Involvement: I have been active with WEDA since college, when I was an intern for Alliant Energy Corporation and the Platteville Area Development Corporation (PAIDC). From those intern days to the present, I have actively engaged with, and participated in, various WEDA professional development, networking and legislative offerings. I am passionate about addressing WI’s digital divide, as well as other topical areas, which is why I joined WEDA’s Legislative Committee. To date, I have served on the WEDA Board for about six months – which was an appointment to fill a vacated Board seat.

Education: I hold a B.S. in Communications from UW-Superior, a B.S. in Business Administration (Sales & Marketing Emphasis) and Business / Economics Comprehensive from UW-Platteville. Currently, I am working towards my CEcD certification through the IEDC, as well as my National Development Council EDFP certification.

Your reasons for running for the WEDA Board: I believe that WEDA plays an important role for Economic Development practitioners, and therefore plays an important role in shaping the economic future of our State. In addition, as I am truly appreciative of all of the opportunities that the organization has provided over the years, it has been a delight to serve on the Board over the past six months. I would be grateful for the opportunity to continue to do so.

 Christian Tscheschlok
Executive Director
Economic Development Washington County (I)
Job description: The Washington County Economic Development Corporation (EDWC) is an independent, countywide development organization that fuels growth businesses for the creation of quality jobs and economic prosperity countywide. As Executive Director, I provide top-level strategic and administrative oversight of the EDC’s projects, programs and resources, including management of various revolving loan portfolios under contract with EDWC. In so doing, I have driven projects to success worth a combined $178.6 million in new private economic growth and over 1,302 new jobs.

WEDA Involvement: Active member of WEDA since coming to Wisconsin in 2007. Currently, president elect of the Board. While serving on the Board, I have volunteered for the bi-annual awards, value-added committee and executive committees. Authored curriculum for the ED 101 for Elected Officials Training and Finance portion of IEDC’s WI Basic Training. Previously an active member of the Illinois Development Council. Active member of IEDC since 2004.

Education: Master of Business Administration from Western Illinois University and a Bachelor of Arts in the Teaching of English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. IEDC Certified Economic Developer since 2009.

Your reasons for running for the WEDA Board: I am humbled to have been an integral part of the WEDA Board during a time of building successfully achieve the goal of obtaining a full-time executive director. It would be an honor and privilege to continue to serve WEDA’s leadership team now as President of the WEDA Board, working in partnership with its members to fully leverage new opportunity forged through “next level” work. The prospect of applying my diverse experiences serving in organizations of various sizes, geographies, resources and cultures to support WEDA projects and our new Executive Director is an exciting one.
Heather Wessling
Vice President of Economic Development
Kenosha Area Business Alliance

Job description: Manage Business Retention & Expansion Program; Initiate investments for the organization (business park development, downtown redevelopment & business recruitment that includes incentives/loan assistance packages)

WEDA Involvement: Member since 2007 – Served on the Board in 2013 but at the time changed jobs from serving a leadership economic development position in Wausau to Kenosha. Wanted to be able to acclimate in my position before running for the board again. Was very active in initiating young professional component and designing educational opportunities such as fall/spring WEDA conferences.

Education: Undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1991 and a Masters’ Degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2005. Awarded certification in Economic Development, designated CEcD from International Economic Development Council (IEDC) in 2012.

Your reasons for running for the WEDA Board: I think this is a very critical time to support the WEDA board as its making a transition – elevating the organization to meet the needs of the State during a time when many of our communities are increasingly successful expanding existing and recruiting new businesses. This organization provides the platform for our communities to learn from each other and experts in their fields to bring their communities to the next level.

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