A new year brings changes to the Council’s Board of Directors both in membership and leadership. Board Chair Nick Sinram of Milwaukee remains at the helm. Nick says the transition of new officers creates opportunities for individual members and the board at large. He is also respectful of the extra demands that come with members stepping into leadership positions.
“We try to be flexible and understanding that people are volunteers,” Nick says. “It’s a balance of lifestyle and work.”
Brent Goodman of Rhinelander is succeeding Rhonda Staats as Secretary of the Board. “Rhonda has been outstanding with her leadership and wisdom,” Nick says. Brent will benefit from that wisdom, as Rhonda supports him during the transition. It’s an exciting hand-off of responsibility from long-serving members to newer ones.
Rebecca Arrowood of Greenville served as Vice Chair for two years, but has stepped away from that role for an exciting reason: She has started law school, which leaves her less available time for Board activities. Madison-based member Melanie Ramey is the new Vice Chair. “I’m excited with the leadership team that we have in place right now,” says Nick.
So, too, is Executive Director Denise Jess. “I’m really pleased that we have both continuity of officers (Nick and Treasurer Renee Peterson) who bring very solid skills to those roles and new officers in Melanie and Brent to expand the perspective of the Executive Committee,” Denise says.
Denise also points out the benefits of having diverse geographic and work backgrounds among members of the leadership team. “The footprint of geography Brent represents, more rural and north central Wisconsin, is important” she explains. “Melanie brings decades of nonprofit and advocacy experience to her role,” she adds.
Stoughton resident Maggie Groshan begins her term as the Board’s newest member. Maggie brings first-hand experience as a client of the Council. “I did some work with (Access Technology Specialist) Jim Denham,” Maggie says. “He thought I’d make a good candidate.” And Maggie’s participation in the Council’s College and Working Age Low Vision Support Group inspired her to go ahead and make the commitment to the board. That’s where she began to understand how much work there is to do. “I was shocked at how many people in their adult life have lost their sight and have no good resources to find ways to adjust,” she says. “I’m quite passionate about being an advocate to help people find resources and be independent, or at least be able to help themselves.”
Maggie is also eager to help however she can with one of the Council’s biggest policy priorities: transportation equity. All in all, Maggie says, “I want everyone to know that I want to work hard and make choices that are good for the Council so it’s around for generations to come. It’s an organization that’s helped so many people, including myself.”
Denise says Maggie’s background makes her a great fit. “She’s going to bring a great perspective to the board as a parent of a young child and as someone very highly motivated to increase her skills,” says Denise.
As the new member and new slate of officers take their seats at the table, Denise appreciates the guidance they collectively provide to the Council. “What I continue to be both grateful for and enlivened by is the dedication of the Board to govern thoughtfully” she says. “It’s crucial that the board raise their talents and experience to strategic thinking and planning, and to governance and fiscal oversight. Those are critical things for a board to do to lift the mission of the organization; a board that understands its role and responsibilities to govern really well.”