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 CEO/Executive Director

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Denise Jess

Denise Jess joined the Council in July 1, 2016 as Assistant Executive Director and became CEO/Executive Director on October 1, upon Loretta Himmelsbach’s retirement.  Prior to joining the staff, Denise served on the Council’s Board of Directors as Second Vice President, chair of the Nominating Committee and member of the Scholarship Committee.  Denise has a very personal connection to blindness and visual impaired, as she has been visually disabled since birth.  She is honored to build upon the Council’s rich history and strong foundation of inspired service to our mission.  She looks forward to even more clearly defining our core values and how they guide our work.  Denise brings to the Council a rich background as an educator, leadership development coach and small business owner. She has a deep commitment to building relationships, working collaboratively to form creative partnerships and bringing clarity to complex situations.  She enjoys hiking, kayaking, knitting and dyeing silk and treasures time with family, her young adult and teenaged daughters and spouse, her English setter and four cats.

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Telephone: 608-237-8103

Vision Services

Jean Kalscheur

Jean Kalscheur

Jean enjoys her work as the Education and Vision Services Director and Vision Rehabilitation Teacher at the Council. She has been an occupational therapist for many years, and that knowledge base and skill set are serving her well. She was born and raised in southern Wisconsin and earned her undergraduate degree from UW-Madison and her graduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis, MO. She enjoys reading and beading.

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Telephone: 608-237-8106

Amy Wurf

Amy Wurf

Amy Wurf joined the Council in January 2015 as its Low Vision Therapist. After interning at the Deicke Center (now Spectrios Institute), she spent 13 years providing low vision services to veterans at Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Illinois, where she also was part of a national low vision research team.

Amy moved to Madison in 2008 as the founding Low Vision Therapist for the Low Vision Clinic at the William S. Middleton VA Hospital. During her six years there she continued her work in research and led her clinic team in its national accreditation.

In her spare time she enjoys reading, cross stitch, and going on adventures with her family.

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Telephone: 608-237-8107

Fund Development

Lori Werbeckes

Lori Werbeckes

Lori joined the Council in 2013 as Fund Development Director, a field in which she has worked for more than 20 years. For Lori, a highlight of fund development work is hearing the stories of why people give to an organization and seeing their delight when they learn of the lives they changed. Lori has worked with seniors during most of her career and enjoys helping them live fuller, more active lives.

When not at work, she enjoys spending time with family, gardening, traveling and hopes to do more biking. She and her husband, Mark, are involved with Young Life of Mount Horeb.

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Telephone: 608-237-8114

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Ray Cubberly

Ray came to the Council in February of 2007 as a Program Assistant through Age Advantage, the Older Worker Program. He was hired as a permanent staff member in November of 2007. His duties include various database maintenance activities such as entering and acknowledging donations, keeping the newsletter mailing list current, and various spreadsheet projects. In his spare time Ray enjoys movies, music, nature trails, and day trips.

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Telephone: 608-237-8109.

Marketing and Community Relations

Gale

Gale Hellpap

Gale joined the Council in April 2015 as the Director of Community Relations and Marketing. After receiving her degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Advertising and Public Relations from UW Oshkosh in 2005, Gale's career has included radio and newspaper media sales, marketing consulting for a national restaurant franchise and community relations for a not-for-profit financial services organization. She is excited to bring her passion for helping people and building strong, long-lasting relationships to the Council.

Outside of work, Gale enjoys spending time with her family, riding and racing her bike. volunteering at church and experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen.

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Telephone: 608-237-8113

Accounting

Suzanne Cowan

Suzanne Cowan

Sue joined the Council in October 2012 as Accounting Manager. She is responsible for handling the financial record keeping such as payroll, Sharper Vision Store sales, accounts payable and receivable, bank reconciliations and audits.

Sue worked in state government as the state credit union regulator for seven years and as the President of the Wisconsin Education Association Credit Union for 25 years prior to that. She is Treasurer of the Oregon (WI) Rotary Club, and she serves as an advisor to a senior housing cooperative.

Sue lives on a farm where she cares for several elderly horses, grows a large garden, and plays with her granddaughters.

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Telephone: 608-237-8110.

IT/Staff Support

Justin Lemke

Justin Lemke

Justin joined the staff in January of 2015. He has worked in a wide-range of industries from manufacturing, to online content development, to teaching abroad. Justin will be putting his diverse background to use as he assists in Marketing, Education, and the Governance of the organization. In his free time he enjoys eating out, going to movies, and writing. 

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Telephone: 608-237-8119

Sharper Vision Store and Program Assistance

Brent Perzentka

Brent Perzentka

Brent has been a member of staff since 2003 and is the manager of the Sharper Vision Store. Having grown up in Madison with two visually impaired parents, Brent brings first-hand experience to the job. Brent is pursuing a degree in Low Vision Rehabilitation. An all-around athletic guy, he enjoys basketball and baseball and plays in leagues in the Madison area.

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Telephone: 608-237-8105

Judith Rasmussen

Judith Rasmussen

She has studied French, Spanish and Arabic. She's a massage therapist, and she loves to get her hands dirty. Judith Rasmussen joined the Council staff in August of 2008. She's no stranger to our organization, as she has purchased items from the Sharper Vision Store, had a booth at a few of the macular degeneration symposia, and received orientation and mobility training over the years from Marshall Flax. Hers is the voice you'll often hear if you call the Council office. An avid flower enthusiast, she has eight orchid plants. Pottery is another pastime she has enjoyed.

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Telephone: 608-237-8101

Heather Buggs

Heather Buggs

Heather joined the staff in August of 2007. Heather answers the phone, takes orders, and assists in the Sharper Vision Store. Heather grew up in Madison surrounded by many blind and visually impaired people; she brings knowledge and experience to the job. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, reading, and spending time outside.

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Telephone: 608-237-8101