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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.

Click here to E-mail Denise.

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.

Click here to E-mail Jean.

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.

Click here to E-mail Amy.

Telephone: 608-237-8107

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Jim Denham

Jim Denham joined the Council in October 2017 as its Assistive Technology Specialist. Being totally blind himself, Jim utilizes much of this technology on a daily basis.  He is passionate about helping individuals with disabilities learn to use technological tools to accomplish tasks which would otherwise be impossible.

Prior to working for the Council, Jim spent ten years as the Director of Assistive Technology for the Perkins School for the Blind. He has also worked for the American Foundation for the Blind and Optelec USA.

Jim grew up in Southern Wisconsin and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems from St. Norbert College in De Pere.

When not at work, Jim can be found watching sports, cooking on the grill or exploring new and interesting restaurants with his wife.

Click here to E-mail Jim.

Telephone: 608-237-8104

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Brent Perzentka

Brent Perzentka joined the Council in September 2003 as the assistant store manager. He became the store manager in 2006, serving in that role until July 2018. Brent is currently enrolled in the Vision Rehabilitation Therapy Master's program at Western Michigan, and is serving his internship with the Council. He plans to graduate in December 2018, and then move into a full-time position with the Council as a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist. Brent has a lifetime of experiences working with those who have vision impairments, growing up in a household with two parents who are  both legally blind. Brent's parents were also active members in the Blind community, exposing Brent to the many people and organizations which serve the visually impaired, and even served on the Council's board for many years. Brent is grateful that he can use his experience, knowledge, and education in the vision field, helping to empower those living with vision loss. Away from the Council, Brent is supported by his lovely wife Blair, whom they share a spirited young daughter, Brooke. When Brent has a free moment away from family and work, he enjoys playing basketball and baseball, refereeing and umpiring in both sports as well. Brent also loves partaking in all of the great social and cultural opportunities provided in the Beautiful Madison area.

Click here to E-mail Brent.

Telephone: 608-237-8112

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.

Click here to E-mail Lori.

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.

Click here to E-mail Ray.

Telephone: 608-237-8109


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Hannah Wente

Hannah Wente joined the Council in July 2018 as Communications Director. She studied Health Communication at the University of Sydney in Australia and received her Master’s in Public Health from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Over the past decade she has held marketing communications positions at a variety of organizations including the American Parkinson Disease Association, SSM Health, and REAP Food Group. In her free time, she enjoys playing ultimate frisbee, paddleboarding and practicing yoga.

Click here to E-mail Hannah.

Telephone: 608-237-8113

 Katherine Watson

Katherine Corbett

Katherine Corbett is Writer for the Council. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and a Human Resources certificate from Madison College. In her free time, she likes baking and playing guitar, and occasionally trying extreme sports, such as hang-gliding, whitewater rafting, and skydiving. When she isn’t pushing herself out of her comfort zone hundreds of feet above the ground or creating a new confectionary concoction, Katherine can be found riding her tandem bike with a friend, reading a fantasy novel, license plate hunting with her husband, or playing with her Seeing Eye Dog.

Click here to E-mail Katherine.

Telephone: 608-237-8111


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.

Click here to E-mail Suzanne.

Telephone: 608-237-8110

Planning Coordinator

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Mitch Brey

Mitch provides project management and administrative support at the Council. He coordinates event planning and manages the IT system. Mitch’s work varies from updating the store website to covering the front desk, and he works with volunteers and staff to ensure publications get out the door.
Mitch joined the Council in January 2019. Before working at the Council, Mitch worked for a variety of nonprofit organizations and campaigns including Community Living Connections, Focus on Energy, and RePower Madison.

Mitch attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry. When he’s not teaching his daughter how to build with Legos, his hobbies including running, gardening, and playing card games with his wife and friends.

Click here to E-mail Mitch.

Telephone: 608-237-8119

Sharper Vision Store and Program Assistance

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Kris Johannsen

Kris Johannsen manages the Council’s in-house Sharper Vision store and inventory.  Kris is responsible for the timely shipment of all of our products and handles any of our customer’s orders, questions or concerns.

Kris joined the Council in January 2019 as the Store Manager and will continue making strides towards improving the Council’s store. Before the Council, Kris had various administrative and management roles. Most recently he worked with adults and children with autism through the art of film and digital media. 

He holds a Bachelor of Science in Communication through Colorado State University. In his free time, Kris enjoys attending events in the Madison community, concerts, football, gardening, hiking, and travelling with his fiancé.  

Click here to E-mail Kris.

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.

Click here to E-mail Judith.

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.

Click here to E-mail Heather.

Telephone: 608-237-8101

Adam Grassnickle

Adam Grassnickle

Adam joined the Council in March of 2017 as a program assistant. He has never let his visual impairment stop him from doing the things he wants to do - working for the Council allows him to influence that mindset in others.  Prior to joining WCBVI, he attended UW-Whitewater where he studied history and politics.  As program assistant, he wears many hats including: assisting with IT, staffing the front desk and coordinating events. In his free time, Adam enjoys being outdoors, watching films and being involved in local service and political groups.

Click here to E-mail Adam.

Telephone: 608-237-8120