Success a measure of
A salute to people who make a difference in the Dodge & Fond du Lac County...and beyond!
October 25, 2015
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table of contents 4
Mike Mentzer’s two-year-tour becomes 39-year career
Mark, Jason and Bradford Lasky family succeeds in scrap metal business
Lisa Ritchie Art on Artesia artist, known for bright flowers, friendly nature
Dave Haase bike racer extraordinaire, continues to pursue passion
12 Holly Brenner helps Envision Fond du Lac grow through collaboration 14
S. Mary Mollison honored for lifetime of dedication
Val Lentz soars with WINGS team
Kelly Norton steps into new shoes as president of St. Mary’s Springs Academy
success staff Publisher Pamela Henson
Community Content Specialist Taima Kern Contributing Writers Nate Beck, Dorothy Bliskey, Justin Kabbes, Taima Kern, Sharon Roznik, Maggie Sales, Madeline Zukowski Photographer Doug Raflik Graphic Artist Marie Rayome-Gill Advertising Sales Manager Heather Bradwin-Haseman Circulation Director Bruce Tischer Sunday, October 25, 2015
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No shortage of success found in Fond du Lac
A community is built by the people that live within it, and as such, a community’s worth is measured by the drive, initiative, passion and success of the people who call it home. The Reporter’s Success publication celebrates the many individuals who have strived to achieve, both for themselves and for the community. Throughout the year we receive nominations from those who have observed greatness among the people they work and live with. This year, ten stories rose to the top: • Fr. Gary Wegner, a Capuchin Order priest within the newly-formed Holyland Catholic Parishes (This story ran in The Reporter in advance of the Success edition) • S. Mary Mollison, a member of the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes, who was recently honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award • Val Lentz, a special education teacher who lends her hand to the WINGS program • Julie Woznik, who works with Habitat for Humanity and Big Brothers Big Sisters as well as taking mission trips with St. Mary’s Springs students (This story ran in The Reporter in advance of the Success edition) • Holly Brenner, who is pushing to re-shape how Fond du Lac is perceived • Dave Haase, who rode his bike 3,000 miles from California to Maryland over eight days • Lisa Ritchie, an artist with a keen eye for what her fans want, and the skill to deliver • Kelly Norton, who stepped into big shoes as the new president of St. Mary’s Springs Academy • Mark, Jason and Bradford Lasky, whose three-generation company is a name known well beyond Fond du Lac
And finally, Mike Mentzer, who founded the Success section, among others, in 2005 and dedicated the better part of his life to the news industry. This eleventh annual edition of Success would be remiss without his face and name in it’s pages. Success is defined in Mirriam-Webster as “the correct or desired result of an attempt.” Each of these people have succeeded, whether through the pursuit of their faith, the pursuit of personal gains or the pursuit of community-wide improvement. And to that, we tip our collective hat. -- Action Reporter Media staff
on the cover Photos down left side: Lisa Ritchie, Kelly Norton, Fr. Gary Wegner. John Eide tests a compacted brick of iron while M Lisa Ritchie at her twice-annual art show (Taima Kern/ Action Reporter Media); Kelly Norton leans over some papers in an office (Doug Raflik/ Action Reporter Media); S. Mary Mollison received Lifetime Achievement Award (photo courtesy of the Catholic Health Association); John Eide tests a compacted brick of iron while Mark Lasky watches at Sadoff Iron and Metal Company (Doug Raflik/Action Reporter Media) ark Lasky watches, at Sadoff Iron and Metal Company.
Bill Draves. He was just a great guy. The roots started going deeper and deeper. We had four kids and we loved it. We’ll stay here for the duration. I always joke that we’re looking for some land on the Ledge in one of the cemeteries.” When they do find that piece of land, Mentzer can rest happy knowing that’s he covered a lot of land during his lifetime. As area reporter and eventually area editor, it was his job to write about happenings in five counties outside of Fond du Lac, including Dodge, Calumet and Winnebago counties. Through his stories, he met many interesting people and places. He fueled a love for Holy Land restaurants, including supper clubs like Cedar Lodge, Blanck’s and Jim and Linda’s. “The thing that really strikes me now is that (the area reporter position) really educated me about this part of the state, all of the different aspects of this part of the state, (like) the Ledge, Lake Winnebago, Kettle Moraine and Horicon.” he said. Although countless board meetings and little dives in those areas were his main topics, he covered just about every area of interest, including sports, schools, businesses and feature stories. “It was almost like you took your turn or worked your way up that way by having each of these beats,” he said. He certainly worked his way up. In 2005, Mentzer was named managing editor of The Reporter.
Mentzer’s two-year-tour becomes 39-year career; lifetime in Fond du Lac Madeline Zukowski Action Reporter Media
Sunday, October 25, 2015
If you’re reading this publication, you can thank long-time reporter-editor Michael Mentzer. In the mid-2000s, The Reporter needed something special to boost business, particularly ad revenue. Mentzer thought that something different, like magazines with slick covers, would do the trick. Thus, what is affectionately known as the “trio”— Success, ReVue and Outlook — were created and launched in 2005. “I was very proud that I was on the ground floor and basically created that ap-
proach,” he said. Back in 1972, Mentzer was in his early 20s. He never thought that he’d stay in Fond du Lac for more than a few years, much less work at The Reporter for 39 years. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he and his wife, Kathy, moved to Fond du Lac the day before he started as an area reporter at newspaper. Both Madison natives, they figured it was a temporary move. “We went, ‘we’re not staying,’” Mentzer said. “My plan was to stay a year or two because I owed that to the guy who hired me,
Dedicated to the mission Mentzer remembers running from The Reporter building downtown to the press room whenever there was a major error in the paper. “We got the first papers off the press, they slowed the press way down so that we could take a look to see if there were any typos or things we didn’t like,” he said. “Sometimes I’d be running full bore for the press room to tell them to stop (so we could fix something).” He is a believer that a newspaper or any news organization exists to serve as a watchdog of the government. “It’s the journalists’ job to make sure the public is getting information and they know when there are abuses, when they know that money is misspent, when public officials do bad things,” he said. However, he of all people knows that job is not an easy one. “You’re dealing with the public, which I think is a very difficult thing,” he said. CONTINUED ON PAGE 5 >>>
“You’re dealing with complaints, you’re dealing with concerns (and) you’re dealing with people suggesting to you, ‘You should be doing this story. Aren’t you a newspaper? Don’t you know your mission is to be a watchdog of government and how come you’re not at this meeting?’” All of those questions, according to Mentzer, are absolutely fair. “(People) should get a product that fulfills their needs and we as newspaper people and journalists should be fulfilling this need,” he said. “They don’t care that there weren’t enough people or enough time or someone was ill or on vacation. They want what they should get.” Producing that type of product meant long days for Mentzer. He and his family managed to have dinner together every night, but Mentzer would often go back to the office afterward. “I was the type of person who worked very long hours,” he said. “I thought that was my constitution.” Along with hundreds of columns and articles, Mentzer has kept an article with a large picture spread across the top. The black and white picture displays a group of men laughing. One particular man, in the center of the photograph, was bent over with laughter. Mentzer describes the scene: As he was meeting with colleagues one day, Photographer Ted Kremer came into the room and told everyone to group up. In came the sports editor, who had went out and got a perm at a women’s salon so he could be featured in the society section of the paper. The shot in that article was the reaction shot. And the man bent over with laughter? That was Mentzer. “We had a lot of good times,” he said. “We were friends.” Mentzer describes their comradery as
Sharing his talents
Mike Mentzer takes notes from a scrapbook of Edgewood Highschool articles, for a book he is writing about the school. Doug Raflik/Action Reporter Media
similar to one of a family. Another characteristic that made the job special was the pride he took in crafting a great piece. “I loved to create a really good piece of writing,” he said. “I love when it’s done. I love when I produce something I’m proud of. Do I like sitting there sweating bullets over it? No. Do I like the anxiety of whether I’ve got it right or did a good job? No.” He loved finding significance in the small things and exposing a problem or a great reality through his writing. “If you’re really devoted to (the job) and
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Although Mentzer retired from The Reporter in 2012, it hasn’t stopped him from doing what he loves. Besides taking care of his seven grandchildren, doing yard work, and being involved in Holy Family, he’s found time to become a published author as well as a teacher. For the most part, however, he wants to limit his involvements. “I’ve tried not the get involved because I was basically warned by some friends,” he said. “They said, ‘You know, you’re going to get all sorts of calls, and people are going to want you to be on this and that.’ If there’s something that trips my trigger, I will (do it).” He has taught journalism at UW-Fond du Lac for three semesters, has sold more than 20,000 copies of “The World of Owen Gromme” and has talked to some school groups about his book “Fond du Lac County: A Gift from the Glacier.” He is now working on a book about the history and the football of Edgewood High School, his alma mater. He is currently writing the early chapters. Although he has separated himself from the journalism business, his views on its future are optimistic. “I’m very hopeful that (journalism) evolves to continue the tradition.” The publication Success has certainly evolved since 2005, and we hope that it has continued the tradition Mentzer hoped for.
you do your best for years and years and years and people trust you and they trust what you write, then you’re good,” he said.
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Success 2015 Sunday, October 25, 2015
Lasky Family succeeds in scrap metal business Justin Kabbes Action Reporter Media
The secret to success for a long entrenched Fond du Lac scrapyard is good people, said Mark Lasky, CEO of Sadoff & Rudoy Industries. “I don’t think it’s much different than
any other successful organization,” Lasky said. “Whether it be in our industry or another industry. It’s all about the people and the relationships that you have.” That principle has helped the thirdgeneration family business survive more
than 65 years, Lasky said. Sadoff employs about 125 people at its scrapyard on Arndt Street at its headquarters in Fond du Lac and 240 total across multiple sites in Wisconsin and Nebraska. The facilities buy and collect scrap metal and electronics and prepare it for resale to foundries, steel mills and other businesses that use the raw materials for their melt. “We bale it, compress it, shred it, shear it. Prepare it for use in melt operations,” Lasky said. His maternal grandfather Edward Rudoy started the scrap metal recycling and processing business with only three employees in 1947 in Oshkosh after moving from Ukraine, Lasky said. In 1964, Rudoy purchased the Sadoff Environmental Company in Fond du Lac and changed the company’s name to Sadoff & Rudoy Industries. By the late 1960s, Rudoy installed the first automobile shredder in Wisconsin. Over the years, the company expanded into other cities in the state, including Sheboygan, Manitowoc and Green Bay. Lasky runs the business with his two brothers, Jason, executive vice president of corporate shared services, and Bradford, executive vice president of operations. Their father, Sheldon, handed over the reins of the day-to-day operations to his kin in 2008, Lasky said. He now serves as chairman. Lasky came back to the business in 1999 after working for a healthcare company in Massachusetts and graduating from the University of Miami, having majored in public relations and psychology. Running a family business is challenging but also rewarding, Lasky said. Many family businesses fail by the third generation, studies show. “There’s an old saying,” Lasky said. “’The first generation is the entrepreneur, they start the business. The second generation grows it and the third generation pisses it away.’ So we’re trying to avoid that fate.” The challenge is separating family life from work life, Lasky said. Arguments from childhood can come back years later and become a distraction. The Lasky family studies the “statistical pitfalls” of third generation owners through the Wisconsin Family Business Forum and attempts to avoid them. “What you fight against is to try to keep things that may have happened 25 years ago when we were kids out of the current context of today,” Lasky said. “Sometimes CONTINUED ON PAGE 7 >>>
Brad Lasky shows his father, Sheldon, and brother, Mark something on a computer monitor in his office at Sadoff Iron & Metal, in Fond du Lac. Doug Raflik/Action Reporter Media
ily has also participated with Leadership Fond du Lac, the Fond du Lac Humane Society, and is involved in a program around the holidays for a local retirement community, he said. Many of the employees reside in the Fond du Lac area, he said, and are grateful for Sadoff & Rudoy’s charitable endeavors. “This goes back to our parents and grandparents,” Lasky said. “It’s really our obligation and our privilege to be able to give back.” Much has changed in the scrap metal business since its beginnings, Lasky said. Many private companies have gone public and improvements in technology have allowed for information to be disseminated much more quickly, he said. “Businesses change and adapt and become flexible,” Lasky said. “That’s how you survive through our 65-plus years of history.” Another change for the worse is the prevalence of scrap metal theft, he said. The business works with law enforcement in each of its communities to identify and stop the sale of stolen scrap metal. There are ways to deter it, he said, such as train-
ing employees to identify it and taking thumbprints and photo IDs. Sometimes it takes common sense, he said. “If someone has driven four counties over to bring you 100 pounds of scrap, you kind of question those things because they probably passed 15 scrap yards on the way to you,” Lasky said. The catalyst for the thefts is the price of scrap metal, Lasky said. As prices rise so does the theft. The challenge is not offending legitimate customers, he said. “You ride a fine line because the people in our warehouses are also customer service,” Lasky said. “You don’t want to be accusatory but there are certain telltale signs.” Running a business is like any other job, Lasky said. It has its ups and downs but is all worth it in the end. “I’m very fortunate to be in the position I’m in. My grandfather sacrificed a lot. My dad sacrificed a lot. We work really hard to make sure that the business will continue to be successful and part of the community.”
it’s easier said than done. ... When you live and work together, that’s a really unique circumstance.” There are many benefits to running a family business, Lasky said. Sadoff & Rudoy is much more in tune with its employees and the communities they serve than if it was a major corporation, he said. “It’s not like we’re some private equity company or we have a portfolio of companies and sitting in New York City in some high rise,” Lasky said. “This is what we’ve dedicated our careers to. It’s personal to us. We take a great deal of pride in the business relationships that we’ve fostered and the relationships we have with our staff.” With more than 240 employees and who have families to support, Lasky and his brothers understand that their decisions affect hundreds of lives. “We take that responsibility seriously,” Lasky said. “We think we owe it to the people who have chosen their career with our company to make sure that we keep the family healthy and keep the business healthy.” Lasky said he has his eye on growth for the future but for the time being the business is weathering a downturn in the commodity industry. There are several macroeconomic factors at play, he said. Exports to Europe and China are lagging. The strength of the U.S. dollar is up, which limits the amount of American exports. Also, commodity prices are undergoing a “re-calibration,” he said. Lasky said he’s bullish about the future but the businesses needs to wait out the storm. “There’s kind of a shakeout going on in our industry right now,” Lasky said. “You’re kind of seeing a pruning of the trees, in which the companies that are well positioned will come out healthier. That’s where we feel we are. As we go through it, it’s not a whole lot of fun.” Fond du Lac has been a great place to do business, Lasky said. The people have a great work ethic and there’s support from public and private entities alike. “The city and the chamber and private businesses make it a destination for where companies can grow and thrive,” Lasky said. “We think it’s a great community.” The family is involved in charity organizations in every community it serves, Lasky said, including Fond du Lac. The family has been involved with the Boys and Girls Club and his brother Bradford serves on the board, he said. The fam-
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Success 2015 Lisa Ritchie poses with her art for sale during her Sept. 12 show at LaClare Farms, Pipe (Malone). She nearly sold out that day. Taima Kern/Action Reporter Media
Art on Artesia artist quickly known for bright flowers, friendly nature Maggie Sales Special to Action Reporter Media
Sunday, October 25, 2015
Standing pensively before her easel, brush poised over canvas, Lisa Ritchie prepares to let inspiration be her guide and mentor, motivated not by profit, ambition or particular confinements of artistic composition, but rather by the simple joy of exploring colors and textures and then sharing them with others. For more than two decades, Lisa has been splashing acrylic onto canvas to create colorful pieces of artwork both for her own pleasure and for those who have come to know and appreciate her talents. “I don’t know much about art history, and I don’t spend my time at galleries or museums,” she said. “I just like to paint. It’s my form of meditation. I paint what comes to me; certain colors come to mind
and inspire me. I like to keep things simple, in my art and in my life.” Using the same easel that her dad built for her when she was 12 years old, Lisa views her painting not as a job or source of income, but as a creative outlet to channel her natural talents; and, in the process, she has become a very successful, popular and respected artist in the community. Her work is displayed in numerous homes throughout the area, as well as at several businesses in the area. For the past five years, her work has also been displayed and sold at The Plaid Squirrel, a gallery and gift shop located 15 minutes north of Fond du Lac between Calumetville and Brothertown. “I think that people enjoy my art because it’s very colorful and fun,” she said. “I have such a variety of sizes, prices, and
subject matter that it’s affordable and appealing to many different kinds of people. It’s exciting to know that my art is hanging in people’s homes and businesses, but it’s even more exciting and rewarding to know that they are enjoying it so much.” Although Lisa paints a variety of subjects, such as trees, leaves and other images in nature, even an occasional animal or abstract, it is flowers that most often flow from brush to canvas. Incorporating a wide range of colors with texture brings her paintings alive and creates a sense of realism. “I once ran out of palette paper and had to peel off my dried paint so that I could reuse it – that’s when I noticed how neat the dried-up paint looked. I began to incorporate the dried-up paint chunks into my CONTINUED ON PAGE 9 >>>
paintings, giving them a unique texture and modern twist. “There is no deep or dark meaning behind my paintings,” she added. “They just are what they are – bright, fun, and happy! I don’t want my paintings sitting in a gallery or a museum with a high price tag. I want people to be able to afford and enjoy them.” Over the past few years, Lisa’s work has become increasingly popular. Postings on Facebook (Art on Artesia), word-of-mouth and two annual shows – her only means of promoting her work – have helped to bring her colorful creations to a wider audience. More than 3,500 people follow her Facebook page, allowing her to showcase the pieces on which she is currently working. By profession, she is a part-time xray technician with Agnesian HealthCare, a job she thoroughly enjoys, as well as a yoga instructor. But by passion, she is an artist who likes to explore and play with colors and textures. “I am so lucky to be able to meet so many people who buy my art at my shows and through Facebook,” Lisa said. “I communicate with people daily who ask me
questions or just comment on the different artwork that I post on my page. People even ask me for advice. That’s crazy! I just love to paint – not because I have to, but because I want to. It’s much more than a hobby, but it’s not quite a career; I simply wait for inspiration, and when it comes, I put the brush to the canvas.” While Lisa acknowledges that she dreams of one day opening her own gallery, she also admits that she is not quite to that point yet. “My family and friends have been a huge support for me, helping me at the shows and encouraging me to do my first solo show in 2010. I would eventually like to have a small gallery, one that might be open by appointment only or maybe once or twice a month. Who knows?” As for now, she is content with the way things are – painting in her garage, transforming the blank, flat canvas with colorful brush strokes and creative textures on her hand-made easel, knowing that her inspiration will become a source of joy and contentment for someone who will enjoy her artwork.
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Haase: Bike racer extraordinaire, continues to pursue passon Dorothy Bliskey Special to Action Reporter Media
Sunday, October 25, 2015
Dave Haase has been racing bikes competitively since he was in his early 20s. Now 47, Haase has consistently earned the rank of top-place American finisher in the world’s toughest endurance bike race – the Race Across America. Although competitors arrive from more than 30 countries for this non-stop race, Haase has won the firstplace American title for each of the four years he’s completed it (2005, 2006, 2008 and 2015). In the 2015 race held this past June, Haase achieved his best race time ever. He completed the 3,000-mile race that begins in California and ends in Maryland in just eight days, averaging 345 miles per day. While someone from another country took first place, Haase was the shining star for
the American racers. What motivated him to get into the Race Across America was the pure pleasure and passion for biking and the personal prediction he’d finish as the top American. And he did. “I am on the older side of the age category for people trying to win this race,” Haase said, noting the prime age is 32 to 38. The grueling schedule of racing nonstop except to sleep for a mere 1 hour and 45 minutes per night, eating nothing but liquids and doing so while in the racing mode (not sitting at a table), seems a piece of cake for Haase as he races through California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland. He pedals his heart out through four mountain ranges at heights reaching 12,500 feet. His support crew of 10 includes a nurse, bike mechanic, navigator and friends who are committed
to helping him achieve his goal. They follow in two vehicles and an RV. Every 12 hours there is a shift change where a new set of three refreshed crew members watch him like a hawk as he races on relentlessly. “My most satisfying race results came this year,” Haase said, noting it was the best finish an American had accomplished since 1999. “All of my finishes are still the top finish by an American. It was satisfying because I had a great team of people working together to help me get to the finish line.” One new strategy aiding Haase and his team is use of a high-tech monitoring system that resulted from a new partnership with IBM Analytics. The system gathers a huge amount of data and helps the team predict potential problems. “It helps us steer clear of trouble during the race,” Haase said. In addition to the partnership with IBM Analytics, Haase says the support he receives from the community and his sponsors is amazing. “I have had a lot of corporate support from great companies in Fond du Lac and Wisconsin.” Richard Haase of Fond du Lac is proud of his son’s successful bike racing accomplishments and the man he’s become. But he says seeing his son suffer from health issues during his first attempt at the Race Across America in 2004 was difficult. During the race, Dave Haase developed a dangerous condition known as hypernatremia. “I suffered from lack of experience, lack of knowledge and skill,” Dave said, noting it all stemmed from not consuming the right liquids and nutrition his body needed during the race. Before he could complete the 2004 attempt, he ended up in the hospital with his kidneys shutting down. His feet and body were swollen with excess water in the soft tissue. “I suffered for at least three months after the race and lost feeling in my feet and hands. After that, I learned to hydrate better and take in more nutrition while racing.” “He looked like a mummy. He was all swollen up and could hardly walk,” his dad Richard recalled. “I thought he was going to die. But it didn’t really seem to bother him. In fact, his attitude hadn’t changed. Instead, Dave said he felt bad that he hadn’t finished the race.” The very next year, in 2005, he completed the race as the top-ranking American racer. “When he was going to enter that year, I asked him how he thought he’d do,” RichCONTINUED ON PAGE 11 >>>
ard Haase recalls. “He said he was going to win it, and he did. This year he told me he was going to do it in less than 9 days – and he did. That was by far the most exciting race so far.” There are other endurance races that lure Haase to hop on his bike and pedal hard. They include the Gravel Road Races, 24-hour races and 500-plus mile races. “I have won several of these the last few years and have also participated in Race the Lake,” Haase said. Biking isn’t the only competition Haase enjoys. He’s also into Ultra Distance Running races including the Leadman Events in Leadville, Colorado and the Frozen Otter, which is a 65-mile trail run in the Kettle Moraine. His competitive streak was noticeable at a young age. “Ever since we were kids playing basketball on our home court, the competition was obvious,” said Dean Haase, who is one year younger than his brother Dave. “We’d usually ended up in fights, and mom and dad would have to step in. We also ended up competing toward a starting position on our high school basketball team – yet played together as a team to beat the
opponent.” Richard Haase says Dave has always been attracted to bikes, even before he was old enough to ride one. “My wife had a bike, and when Dave was just three or four he would Dave Haase push that bike all over the place.” Haase’s ability to perform at the top even as he gets older is testament to his attitude, commitment and training. “I continue to train hard and do what I love to do. I have a passion for cycling and am extremely mentally tough,” Haase said. “And, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve lived a healthier lifestyle.”
Future feats The year 2016 Race Across America will be his last. “With the knowledge I have gained and the technology available through IBM Analytics, I am prepared to race my most perfect race,” Haase said. As for why it’s his last, he says it’s time to
move on. “The Race Across America takes a lot of commitment – not just from me but from others I depend on. The work leading up to the race is very challenging. Plus, there are other bike races I want to pursue, and there’s a running race called the Bad Water 135 in Death Valley, Calif.” One thing readers might not know about this ultra-cyclist who owns and operates Attitude Sports, a bike and ski shop in Fond du Lac and Pewaukee, is his extreme fondness for coffee. “I love coffee and someday hope to roast my own. My fantasy is to be a coffee barista when I’m done biking. I don’t drink alcohol, so coffee is my beverage of choice.” His dad, Richard, who enjoys biking into the Holyland area outside Fond du Lac, says he can’t keep up with his son when it comes to biking. “We don’t go on rides together, but I do go visit Dave at his sports shop frequently. “I take coffee and cookies to him. It’s just one way I enjoy spending time with him.”
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Success 2015 Holly Brenner leads the way toward a growing Fond du Lac. Doug Raflik/Action Reporter Media
Envision Fond du Lac grows through collaboration Nate Beck Action Reporter Media
Sunday, October 25, 2015
An initiative explores Fond du Lac’s intangibles: How the city can overcome chatter that could hinder the region’s future growth. Think of Envision as Fond du Lac’s pep talk to prepare for an elevator pitch. Holly Brenner, vice president of strategic development and marketing at Agnesian Health Care in Fond du Lac, launched the yearlong drive last February. Brenner, local leaders and a team of Chicago consultants have interviewed scores of Fond du Lac residents in pockets of perspectives. It’s a detailed pulse-taking of what Fond du Lac is and how the city can thrive in future years.
“We want to stand for something,” Brenner said. “This is part of the process of figuring out what that is.” Brenner launched Envision after incubating it in Leadership Fond du Lac, the Fond du Lac Association of Commerce’s annual seminar on equipping students to help improve the city. Seven local stakeholders, inducing the Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corporation, the Association of Commerce and others, contributed funding to hire consultants Houseal and Lavigne to pursue the plan. Envision first sought input from the greater Fond du Lac community through broad listening sessions – senior citizens, grade-school students and folks in-be-
tween – to identify concerns and how best to address them. The Envision team in late August wrapped up the last round of listening sessions. Now, Houseal and Lavigne, with Brenner and local stakeholders are compiling priorities that would outline how Fond du Lac could progress. Basically, distilling these community comments into concrete themes. Later, they’ll hold future listening sessions to square community and consultant suggestions. Then comes a specific plan. These priorities could require support from a broad swath of spheres across the Fond du Lac community. Envision won’t put the burden for change solely on the CONTINUED ON PAGE 13 >>>
City of Fond du Lac. This initiative asks for a more complete prescription for problems plaguing the city. Among them: plenty of jobs due to fewer qualified workers and an inkling of hostility from old-town Fond du Lac toward newcomers. Brenner said issues like these challenge many Wisconsin cities, but people in focus groups struggled to pinpoint what Fond du Lac means and why this place matters. That’s a problem, because the city needs to attract and retain talent to prosper. This could mean change, though Brenner said another goal of the initiative is to preserve those nuggets that make Fond du Lac a fantastic place to live. “We have three higher (education) institutions here, we have a great (young professionals network) here,” Brenner said. “How do we do a better job integrating those people in the business community?” Without a pulse on what Fond du Lac means, it’s tough to bring people in. Reputation and perception are reality, Brenner said. That’s because people make crossroads decisions on few facts. So part of this drive is to learn what’s great about Fond du Lac, show folks what living here is like and sculpt an identity. To do this means listening to people. There’s an urgency here, drawn from studies that show Wisconsin’s young and talented are leaving, and that many here now don’t have skills to fill in-demand jobs. Gov. Scott Walker said on Oct. 1 that the skills gap – when good jobs remain unfilled due to lagging expertise – remains the state’s biggest hurdle. “This year our big challenge is not just creating jobs but filling jobs and making sure people have the skill sets they need,” Walker said during a tour of PDQ Manufacturing in De Pere to promote October as manufacturing month. Brenner said Fond du Lac needs to reevaluate how it’s perceived. People filed into the ground-floor conference room Aug. 19 at Agnesian for the last of four Envision listening sessions. Taking part were Fond du Lac Police Chief Bill Lamb, city council member Brian Kohlstad and about 20 other community leaders. Fond du Lac has the highest median age among major Fox Valley cities, at 38.4 years. Statewide, only Wausau, at 39 years, and Manitowoc, at 38.6 years, are higher. Houseal Lavigne consultants Drew Aw-
sumb and Matthew Filter split the crowd issues in Fond du Lac. into groups of four and armed these clusThough opportunity exists, it’s a chalters with a packet asking each to draft lenge reaching folks with potential to help what Fond du Lac could be. them finish degrees and fill those jobs. So Danny Loomans, now a college student part of doing that means connecting with living in Chicago, was among the youngest segments of the city and county, said Jim in the group – and among the best-dressed Eden, vice president for academic affairs in a dark suit and purple shirt. at Fond du Lac’s Moraine Park Technical Loomans grew up in Fond du Lac, left College. for college and isn’t sure he’ll seek a caJenny Knuth, art director at Fond du reer here once he earns his degree. He Lac’s Wisnet.com, said people need a reasaid it’s daunting for students to shoot an son to come to Fond du Lac before the city email seeking advice to city council memcan engage them. That means establishing bers or other local leaders. the place that offers more than manufacSo maybe a mentorship program would turing jobs. help draw out young talent, offering more “We take a look at endangered jobs, do chances to receive input from Fond du we take those people, helping them find Lac’s young and ambitious. That could other jobs in fields that may be more stamean a committee seat for a youngster on ble?” she said during the session. Downtown Fond du Lac Partnership. Brenner said it’s important for people Katie Tank, provider liaison and former on all sides of this drive to draft goals for intern at Agnesian, said internship prothe future. It’s not enough to simply rely grams introduce students from outside on manufacturing jobs to carry the region colleges to Fond du Lac. An internship can to prosperity, for example, Brenner said. be a fruitful foray into both a career and The region needs breadth in economic decommunity. Though young people want velopment, too, meaning start-up jobs in experiences, they want opportunities, too. new or uncommon industries. Solving that equation could mean con“Is it a culture change?” Brenner said. necting better with college students – nontraditional college students chiefly. “Sure. But you don’t want to throw the “I know a lot of non-traditional stubaby out with the bath water. We need dents,” Lisa Pauly, director of operations to make sure we’re the best things about at the Fond du Lac Area Convention and Fond du Lac, too. That’s why we’ve been Visitors Bureau, said during this huddle. so diligent in hearing from lots of people.” “You have a harder time fitting into a cookBrenner said Fond du Lac above all ie-cutter, when you’re trying to get your these goals must believe in its potential. kid to soccer practice or PTA meetings.” Folks call this place a city with pluck and This group resolved to better connect drive, and that needs to be applied to dewith these students. That’s because Fond veloping new paths. du Lac may lack some of the quirk of col“We believe in this community,” She lege towns. said. “One of the things we kept hearing Another front-burner item: How can was, ‘Fond du Lac is unstoppable.’ We just Fond du Lac create endearing public placmaybe need to show that a bit more.” es? The thought hinges on how such places radiate Proud to be part of the Fond du Lac identity, and how community since 1880. spaces like Fond du Lac’s downtown and Lakeside Park can become icons more than assets. On Aug. 19, a bevy of community and business Macy Street showroom circa 1955. leaders assembled at the YMCA to brainstorm how to 800.532.4376 | jfahern.com WI-5001935656 elevate economic
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Success 2015 Sunday, October 25, 2015
Sister Mary Mollison, CSA, receives national lifetime achievement award Catholic Health Association
Sister Mary Mollison, CSA, vice president of Spirituality at Agnesian HealthCare, has been honored with the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award by the Catholic Health Association. She recently received the award during the Catholic Health Assembly in Washington, DC. Mollison, 68, was honored for a lifetime of contributions to the Catholic health ministry. “We talk on about mission, but it’s not even our mission. It’s the mission of the Gospel, of Jesus. Our job is to always ask, ‘How do we keep the Gospel alive?’” The creation of Agnesian HealthCare with the partnership of St. Agnes Hospital and the Fond du Lac Regional Clinic in 1996 is one of Mollison’s contributions to Catholic healthcare, education and religious life over nearly five decades. At the time, she served as the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes general superior. Mollison invited Dr. Stephen Massick head of the doctors’ group, to meet with her at her home on the edge of town. After grueling days across conference tables, Mollison asked Massick to relax with her on the porch. “I was going on about organization and leadership and what we wanted, and I noticed she was quietly nodding in agreement,” Massick said. “We were on the same page after all. She had a sense of serenity that made a solution possible. It was almost like talking to my mother. It all sounds simple and, in retrospect, it was.” “I took to calling her Mother Mary,” Massick says. “We still do.” Entering the world of ministry as a nurse at St. Agnes Hospital in 1969, Mollison has managed nursing staffs, helped form and guide Trinity Health of Livonia, Mich., the second largest Catholic healthcare system in the United States, twice filled in as interim president at Marian University, her alma mater and was a member of
the presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, located in Silver Springs, Md. from 1999 to 2002.
Clear insight People who have worked with her say she does her part with quiet wisdom, an ability to foster calm and collaboration with a clear sense of the mission. Mollison leads by listening, fostering deliberation with insightful questions and, when necessary, offering clearly worded guidance. People who have worked with her remember how she often approaches subjects with questions. Tina Potter, former director of the United Way of Fond du Lac, appreciated that skill during Mollison’s six years on the agency board. She said the nonsectarian agency benefited from Mollison’s sense of social justice and service to the needy. “Sister doesn’t talk much about herself,” Potter says. “She’d sit back, listen and ask questions. She knows so much about governance and operations. When she’d speak, she could break things down clearly and in regular language. And our reaction always was, ‘Wow, why didn’t we think of that?’”
Openness and faith Sister Rhea Emmer, CSA, has known Mollison since they entered the order as young women and has been her local community member in Fond du Lac for 25 years. Emmer said her colleague’s “sense of carrying on God’s mission drives everything she does. She strives for vision and creativity. Her guidance often opens with, “I wonder if we could…” S. Mollison grew up in Niles, Mich., with three older brothers. She attended St. Joseph High School in nearby South Bend, Ind., and wanted to become a nurse. She went to Marian College (now Marian University), which was founded by the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Agnes. Mollison graduated in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
S. Mary Mollison. Photo courtesy of the Catholic Health Association
Recalling her entry into the congregation during her junior year in nursing school, she said, “That hadn’t been my original intention. God certainly does have strange ways. I learned long ago to quit planning, because everything I plan changes anyway. All of life is about change and imagining what can be, not just what is.” After one year at St. Agnes Hospital, the congregation assigned her to St. Clare Hospital in Monroe, south of Madison, where she was a nursing supervisor. Sensing her ability as a manager, the congregation then sent her to the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where she earned a master’s degree in nursing in 1979 with an emphasis in gerontology. She was vice president of nursing at St. Anthony Hospital in Hays, Kan., for three years before returning to Fond du Lac as corporate director of sponsorship for the congregation. She was in congregational leadership for 16 years until 2001, including eight as general superior, her role during the forCONTINUED ON PAGE 15 >>>
mation of Agnesian HealthCare.
‘Tell me why’ Her reputation in healthcare leadership led her to Livonia, Mich., in 2000, when Holy Cross Health System and Mercy Health Services merged to form Trinity Health. She was the first chair of Catholic Health Ministries, the public juridic person and sponsor of Trinity. That original board had three sisters from each of the orders that sponsored the merged systems. Mollison became the seventh religious on the board, or the “neutral party,” said S. Catherine DeClercq, OP, Trinity’s executive vice president for sponsorship and governance. Mollison also served on Trinity Health’s board and for a time was its chair. Sister DeClercq said Trinity benefited from Mollison’s experience in healthcare, governance and mergers. “She understood sponsorship and the roles of lay men and women in the ministry of Catholic healthcare,” DeClercq said.
“She is a consensus builder with a great capacity to listen, all the while holding to the center of what is important. She has a wonderful way of approaching an issue through inquiry: “Tell me more,” and “Tell me why.” She said Mollison also knew when to call a time out whenever a discussion grew too long or testy. “She’d give us time to quiet our hearts and think about the impact of a decision. Then she would call the group back,” DeClercq said. “People were taken by that opportunity to reflect, not just react.” Stacey Akey, vice president of enrollment management at Marian, said Mollison provided stability to the Catholic liberal arts university of about 1,400 undergraduates when an illness led the university’s president to step down in May 2005. She served as interim president for 15 months; she accepted the temporary post again in 2009 while the board searched for a new president. “Changes in leadership can be very hard on small colleges,” says Akey, who has
worked at Marian for 25 years. “Sister gave us faith and inspiration to step back, unite and be about our mission.”
Lay formation Emmer said Mollison long has understood the need to pass healthcare leadership to lay administrators, and to properly guide them into fully understanding their purpose and responsibility. “Formation of the laity can’t just be about dogma and doctrine,” Emmer said. “You have to call people to grow spiritually from the inside out. Anyone can become very good at using the right language. The important thing is what guides their decisions.” Mollison said mission is everyone’s responsibility. “We all bring our spirituality to work, and that is how we carry on the mission.” She is confident in the future of Catholic healthcare. “We have a responsibility to prepare the laity,” she says of the sponsoring religious orders. “But this work can be carried on. We all can follow our baptismal call.”
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Success 2015 Val Lenz watches Dustin Hepponstal, Taylor Lavalle and Joshua Blenel package soup at Broken Bread, in St Paulâ€™s Cathedral. Doug Raflik/Action Reporter Media
Lentz soars with WINGS team Sharon Roznik Action Reporter Media
Special education teacher Val Lentz and â€œher kidsâ€? have left their fingerprints all over the Fond du Lac community. And in this case itâ€™s difficult to separate the teacher from her students. Those that know Lentz understand that her mission and methods have created a remarkable support system that functions as a family. October is the month she and her students prepare food for Souper Tuesdays
Sunday, October 25, 2015
and invite employees in the Fond du Lac School District to sample their cooking skills. Thereâ€™s homemade soups, fresh rolls and desserts -- all free of charge, and there is never a lack of guests. Lentz heads the school districtâ€™s WINGS program, an innovative, hands-on approach to special education that houses 18-21 year-old students with cognitive challenges. This unique classroom, in an apartment at Riverside Elementary School, offers her adult students the skills
they need to gain independence. WINGS is an acronym for Working Independently Nurturing Goals Success. The program enrolls eight to ten students during the school year. â€œThe goal is to get students to the point where they can possibly live on their own or in some kind of assisted living,â€? Lentz said. â€œWe just put one of our kids in his own apartment, and thatâ€™s always a very exciting moment.â€? From learning how to ride the city bus and completing essential household chores, to gaining employment in the community, WINGS students can rest assured that Lentz has their backs, and her commitment lasts long after they graduate from the program. Marcia Mueller calls Lentz â€œa gift from God to me and my family.â€? Since her son Logan Mueller joined the WINGS team, he has opened his own delivery business and is working two part-time jobs. â€œShe found a way to push Logan and challenge him, but not so hard it would deter him,â€? Mueller said. â€œShe has a knack for finding out what works with each student, and has done so much good for Logan it is impossible to thank her (enough).â€? Lenz said her parents raised her with the philosophy that â€œgetting out in the community and helping where it is neededâ€? was the right thing to do. Growing up in England, she recalls their home was always open and welcoming to everyone. In high school she was given the opportunity to work with special needs children, and it quickly grew into a passion. â€œI have always looked at what they can do, not what they canâ€™t do,â€? Lentz said. She traveled to America to attend college and along the way met her future husCONTINUED ON PAGE 17 >>>
band, Bill Lentz. They recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. The Lentz’s started out in a home they built in rural Campbellsport, where they raised their three sons. Bill Lentz operated Shefond Oil Company with his father and opened the first convenience store/service station in Campbellsport in the 1970s. Lenz was first employed with the Campbellsport School District at a time when cognitively disabled students ages 3 to 21 were housed in one large classroom. “I would transport the kids to St. Agnes Hospital (in Fond du Lac) in my car for physical and occupational therapy two days a week,” Lentz recalls, almost a 30-minute drive one way. In 1999 the family moved to Fond du Lac and Lentz began working with special needs students at Theisen Middle School, then moved with the program in 2001 to the newly built Fond du Lac High School. Six years ago, the school district received the funding they needed to build the WINGS CWD (children with disabilities) apartment. “We toured different programs in other school districts to get ideas. Our former pupil services director, John von Tish, and our facilities director, John Williams, were the real brains behind the apartment,” Lentz said. “I remember them down on their hands and knees grouting floors so we could get it done in time for the start of the school.” Marian Sheridan, coordinator of school health and safety, points out that Lentz and her staff create experiences for students out in the community that make a contribution to the greater good, while providing essential vocational skills. As an example, WINGS students volunteer at the Fondy
Food Pantry and at the grant-funded St. Paul’s WINGS program, where every Friday students prepare up to 150 meals for Broken Bread and serve the hungry at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Fond du Lac. “Val thought it would be great to give the students an opportunity to learn kitchen and communication skills, all the while giving back to the community,” said Terry Hansen-Beno, who operates Broken Bread and also serves as food distribution coordinator for the Fondy Food Pantry. “Her self-motivation, creativity and selflessness draw community folks into energized experiences of unity, growth and the desire to give,” Hansen-Beno said. Every Sunday morning, one of the WINGS students heads to work at Dominoes Pizza, a business that has supported and employed special education students for the past 18 years, said owner Sandy Ritchie. “Just to show you what kind of person Val Lentz is she gave me her cell phone number and told me if there are any problems to call her anytime, and she would come here on the weekend. She cares so much, she is thinking 24/7 about her students,” Ritchie said. A highlight each year for both Lentz and her students is the annual Fondy Idol talent show, held at the Performing Arts Center at Fond du Lac High School. Putting on the show gives students an opportunity to shine and has become a community favorite. “The Fondy Idol program consumes Val for months because the kids are so happy doing it,” Ritchie said. “Any chance she gets she is looking for an opportunity, for life lessons for her students.” Sheridan said that last year, in collaboration with the YMCA and Special Olympics,
the school district was awarded a grant to improve the health outcome of WINGS students. “Val identified that some of her students were overweight and lacked physical activity. This collaboration provided the opportunity and support to develop a personalized nutrition and physical activity plan for each student,” Sheridan said. “One of the strongest characteristic of Val is her heart and her energy to improve the lives of her students.” The Lentz’s now live on a lake near Waupaca, about an hour northwest of Fond du Lac. Val Lentz continues to commute to Fond du Lac to work with her students, and also serves on the board of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans of Fond du Lac and ARC of Fond du Lac. “The kids graduate but they never really leave because we create a family for them,” Lentz said. “The district has given these students a remarkable opportunity, and we go above and beyond to make sure they are learning every day.” When she isn’t working, Lentz said she is happiest cooking in her kitchen and spending time with her family. Visits to her two sons in Las Vegas include a trip to the food pantry, where together the family serves meals to those in need. “I am happy that now it has been passed on to the next generation, the philosophy that it is better to give than receive,” she said. Lenz said she looks forward to spending more time with her two grandchildren, soon to be three. And her sons come home often to enjoy the family’s Packer season tickets and summers on the lake. “I may retire someday, but I don’t think my relationship with my students will ever end,” she said.
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475 E. MERRILL AVE.
LUTHERAN ACADEMY Home of the Vikings!
Success 2015 Kelly Norton stands amid construction at St. Mary’s Springs Academy. Doug Raflik/Action Reporter Media
emy, Norton for three years was the director of advancement at Moraine Park Technical College (MPTC), where she primarily raised funds for scholarships to ensure the accessibility of a post-secondary education for cash-strapped students. “It was really gratifying work primarily because you can feel your work being put to good use,” said Norton. While with MPTC, Norton was also involved in the FACT Initiative, which stands for Forming Alliances to Cultivate Talent. The intent, Norton said, was to match private sector dollars with students enrolled in manufacturing-related degrees and create a stronger network between employers and students. Prior to working at MPTC, Norton worked at or with several other organizations, all with the common thread of “philanthropy.” Her first job out of college was starting a chapter of “First T” in Seymour, Wis., a national non-profit that teaches life skills to disadvantaged youth through the game of golf. After that, she moved on to St. Norbert as Coordinator of the annual fund, as well as holding the role of northeast regional director for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, with a territory that included Fond du Lac. “I identified that my passion was philanthropy,” said Norton. “Not only just because the work itself was rewarding but because I felt like I had a purpose, that it wasn’t just a ‘career objective’ or a ‘next move.’ I knew that if I left that job, it would be for something that I could feel equally passionate about from a mission standpoint.”
Leap of faith
Sunday, October 25, 2015
Norton steps into new shoes as president of St. Mary’s Springs Academy Taima Kern Action Reporter Media
Born and raised in Brownsville, Kelly Norton always considered herself part of the Fond du Lac community. In Fond du Lac, she took dance and gymnastics classes and shopped often with her family. As an adult, she lived in the Fox Valley area for 15 years, and it wasn’t until both she
and her husband were commuting to Fond du Lac every day that they realized it was time to move in. “We have a young family and felt that it was time to become established and really give back to the community that we were going to be a part of,” said Norton.
Early career Prior to joining St. Mary’s Springs Acad-
Norton was not necessarily looking for a change when a position she was qualified for opened at St. Mary’s Springs Academy (SMSA). “I was very happy with my position at Moraine Park and felt extremely fulfilled there, (but) after a few months of having connections in the community suggest that I take a harder look at (an opening at SMSA), I gave in -- to what I believe to a certain degree to be God’s will -- and knew that this was continuing to be presented to me for a reason and a purpose,” said Norton. She took a “leap of faith,” and landed in the role of director of advancement, which was especially challenging since the school was deep into a capital campaign for several years. CONTINUED ON PAGE 19 >>>
“The (SMSA) system has a great heritage and an amazing history,” said Norton, who had not been associated with the school in the past. “It was a little unnerving because there was a lot to learn, a lot of people to get to know, a lot of history in the ledge with the Sisters of St. Agnes, many years of alumni that have lineage in the system … It was a bit of a learning curve, and I had to readjust and assimilate myself into the culture.” Though her new title was the same, other portions of her job changed. Though she was still rooted in fundraising efforts, the proceeds of those fundraisers held a different importance: They made up onethird of the annual operating budget. She also oversaw the marketing, communication and enrollment departments. “I was doing that for two years, and was also very involved with the capitol campaign, with a goal to raise $24.3 million, and within the last couple of months we are about $800 short of that goal,” said Norton. Norton didn’t stay in her role as Director of Advancement for long. Kevin Shaw, the then-president of SMSA, took a position as the president of Notre Dame Academy in Green Bay in February of 2015. “We were about to start our groundbreaking and construction in the spring,” said Norton. “They appointed me to the position of interim president at that time to help bridge the gap between all of the moving parts.” A formal appointment was made after an extensive interview process, and she became president in July of this year. “I would say the best way to describe it is exhilarating,” Norton said of her new role. “I don’t think I’m getting a lot of sleep, but not because of worry, because
of excitement. I think when you are so inspired by what you do and so driven by a mission and a vision, it makes going to work really exciting.” Getting involved Norton, who is a Fond du Lac Morning Rotarian, also found herself stepping onto three other boards, filling the vacancies left by her predecessor. Those boards are Well City Fond du Lac, Healthy Fond du Lac County 2020 and the CEO Scholarship Board. She is also on the Envision Fond du Lac planning committee, which is focused on evaluating a strategic plan for the community as a whole.
Her husband is Tyler, a physical therapist assistant at Agnesian HealthCare. They have been married for 11 years. They have three children: 8-year-old twins, Hazen and Sophie, and a 6-year-old son, Reese. All three attend St. Mary’s Springs Academy schools. “When we’re not working or at an athletic event or school function or planning, we are really extremely committed to family,” said Norton. Having a young family was also one of the draws, Norton felt, of working for the Academy. “I was fully aware that my personal life and my professional life would become one, and that has proved to be a really incredible thing,” said Norton. “Knowing that my kids are right across the street here and I can go have lunch with them or drop them off every morning and know that they are in the very best environment for them.”
Norton attributes the success she has achieved to two things: “One is work ethic, and that was a gift, something that I learned from my parents and even more than that my grandparents.
I was very lucky to have really committed, dedicated people in my life, and they taught me that no matter what the circumstance, someone always has it worse off then you. You need to buck up, take it on the chin every now and then, strap up your boots and go to work,” said Norton. “Not every job is glorious, and not every (job) comes with a grandiose salary, but you have to look at it in terms of ‘are you contributing to the whole, are you giving back to more than just your own self-interest?’” Secondly, Norton credits the understanding that success lies within a team. “Not everybody has all the answers to every problem that exists, and you get way by further seeking to understand somebody else’s viewpoint. You can actually grow in your own knowledge by doing that and applying it in the future and I think that sometimes when you’re young in a career you think you know it all,” said Norton. “The greatest lessons learned in my career were from individuals who made mistakes. I watched from afar and observed how they handled those situations and thought about how I may have handled those situations if I had been in their shoes.”
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Norton’s philosophy Norton addresses each day with a positive attitude, which she feels is vital. “I do not often let people complain about a situation unless they are willing to be a part of the solution. I don’t like to get sucked into a conversation where it is just negative energy,” said Norton. “I think that a positive outlook, positive energy and a positive attitude are, by far, the most important things for me, on a daily basis. Sometimes things can get thick, so it is important as a leader in any institution to maintain a positive attitude and encourage employees and those around you.”
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