Our Board of Directors
Easterseals Wisconsin’s Board of Directors is made up of individuals from throughout the state of Wisconsin. The board consists of 18 individuals who dedicate their time to support Easterseals Wisconsin programs that assist people with disabilities across Wisconsin.
“My family became acquainted with Easterseals Wisconsin through its Respite Camp – a camp that my son, Casey, has benefited from for several years and that has benefited my family by providing respite and the chance to reconnect while having the confidence that Casey was being taken care of with the utmost care.”
“I don’t have a favorite Easterseals Wisconsin program as there are too many great services to choose only one. I like how Self-Employment Services empowers people to work for themselves and fosters each individuals’ unique skills set. I like how the Camp/Respite programs allow kids to have a summer camp experience which brings joy to their lives (while also giving a needed break to the campers’ parents or caregiver). I like how the FARM Program finds custom solutions to unique injuries and allows farmers to maintain their livelihood and continue to provide for their families.”
Treasurer: Zach Morley, Middleton
Wisconsin Financial Group, Financial Advisor
Zach Morley grew up in Maryville, Missouri and moved to Madison to attend the UW and play basketball for the Badgers. After retiring from professional basketball in Europe, he decided it was time to focus his attention on finding ways to be more involved in his own community here in Wisconsin. Zach attended the Starry Night event with a friend, was impressed by the Easterseals Wisconsin programs he was introduced to that night and knew that he’d found an organization he’d be proud to be a part of. When asked to serve on the Board, he quickly accepted and he’s excited to do his part in helping enhance the lives of those with disabilities. Zach is a financial advisor with Wisconsin Financial Group and lives in Middleton with his wife, Rachel, and kids Rowan, Fallon, and Collins.
Secretary: Sara Schoenborn, Fitchburg
Wisconsin Agri-Business Association, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
Wisconsin Corn Program, Communications Director
Sara is the Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the Wisconsin Agri-Business Association and the Communications Director for the Wisconsin Corn Program. She previously held roles as the Director of Communications for Cooperative Network, Wisconsin FFA Foundation Executive Director and Assistant Editor for Agri-View. She is a proud alumnus of UW-Madison, where she majored in Dairy Science and Life Sciences Communications and completed her Master of Agribusiness degree from Kansas State University in May 2018.
When approached to serve on the Easterseals Wisconsin Board of Directors, she enthusiastically accepted, noting “It is a privilege to be asked to be a part of this exceptional organization. I consider it an honor to work with the Easterseals Wisconsin Staff and Board of Directors to further the opportunities available to children and adults with disabilities across the state.” Sara most looks forward to assisting with the FARM Program and visiting Camp Wawbeek.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
“I have always been very passionate about the disability community, having grown up with a younger sister with tuberous sclerosis. My sister still resides with my parents, and I have seen firsthand how she benefits from programs targeted toward people with disabilities. I have been overly impressed with Easterseals Wisconsin after learning more about the organization and the various programs it offers. I have been particularly impressed with the Respite Camp and the unique experience and opportunities it provides for the campers. I look forward to being a contributing member of the Developmental Board of this wonderful organization.”
Eric Blankenheim, Appleton
Ergofactor, Owner-O.T., Ergonomist
“All the Easterseals Wisconsin programs are great, but camp will always have a special place in my heart. I started working there in 1981 and it truly changed my life.”
Charles F. Buell, Middleton
C. F. Buell Company, LLC, Owner & Developer
Wayne Corey, Madison
Wayne has been an Easterseals Wisconsin volunteer since 1975 because, “Easterseals creates solutions and changes lives for people with disabilities.” He has served 28+ years on the board during that time and is the longest serving board member in Easterseals Wisconsin’s history. Personal highlights of his Easterseals life include chairing the board of directors in the early 1990s when both the Respite Camp and FARM Programs were started. Wayne served on multiple committees with the National Easter Seal Society and chaired the State of Wisconsin Americans with Disabilities Act Statewide Coordinating Committee.
Born and raised and currently residing in Athens, WI. I’m the VP of Funding for Aqua Finance and just celebrating my 16th work anniversary in December. My intro to Easterseals ties to my uncle Sylvester “Skip” Ellenbecker and his memorial golf outing. I golfed and participated the first few years which turned into being asked to be on the golf planning committee a few years ago.
This year, I was surprised and flattered by the request to consider being on the board for Easterseals Wisconsin. I have tons to learn, but the minimal exposure I’ve had so far has been very exciting. I look forward to learning more and being more immersed in all the amazing things Easterseals Wisconsin brings to so many and helping expand exposure in central Wisconsin and the Northwoods.
Alan Kaltenberg, Arlington
“As a farmer, I was introduced to Easterseals Wisconsin through AgrAbility Wisconsin, where I worked with the Easterseals Wisconsin FARM Program. They helped me by making suggestions for changes and improvements that would make my farming operation safer and easier. I have spoken at both Starry Night and Blizzard Blast fundraising events about my experiences with the FARM Program.
I serve on the Leeds Town Board, am past-president of Equity Columbian Co-op, and have worked on the Columbia County Board of Adjustment, my Church Council, and the Columbia County Snowmobile Council.
I’m looking forward to working with an organization that helped me and so many other people.”
“I have been a proud supporter of and fundraiser for Easterseals Wisconsin for over 15 years, when the CENTURY 21 real estate franchise introduced us to the many national Easterseals programs at an annual conference. I have seen firsthand the ecstatic faces on campers at Camp Waubeek, talked with parents who can’t imagine life without Respite Camp, and even had the pleasure of meeting a farmer who can continue to farm thanks to Easterseals Wisconsin helping to retrofit his tractor after his disability made it impossible to operate. For all these reasons and so many more, I am excited to join the Easterseals Wisconsin Board of Directors and look forward to making an impact.”
Pat LeMire, Madison
M3 Insurance, Senior Account Executive and Partner
“The Camps, in particular Respite Camp, got me involved with Easterseals Wisconsin, and not only what it brings to the individuals attending but their families as well. This service to the families that provide 24/7 care to their family members is a real difference maker. The respite time not only allows the kids to have a special time at camp but gives the families caring for the individual that respite to enjoy other facets of life they may not be able to while caring for their child or loved one.”
Jeff Lyon, Middleton
FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative, General Manager
“Throughout my career I have worked with farmers who have been involved with Easterseals Wisconsin’s FARM Program and AgrAbility and I have witnessed the benefits to our state’s farmers. My wife and daughter, who are teachers, work with children with disabilities and I have seen the satisfaction they get when helping their students. Being on the board is one way that I can give back to the community.”
Jeff has many years of experience in the field of agriculture. He began his career as a writer at The Country Today, then as a legislative aide in Washington DC, assistant director for National Commission on Dairy Policy, 22 years at the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, and most recently, the general manager at FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative. Prior to joining FarmFirst, Lyon served for nearly eight years as the Deputy Secretary at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). Jeff resides in Middleton with his wife Karen. They have two adult children.
“People with disabilities have always held a very special place in my heart, as my older sister, Katie, has Down Syndrome. Although she never attended Camp Wawbeek, she was fortunate enough to spend a week every summer at a camp very similar in nature. She always spoke about her time at camp with such excitement, and we loved hearing about all the fun activities she did and the new friendships she formed with other campers and counselors.
After I attended a recruiting event about 6 years ago with board member Andy Crooks, and former board member Matt Bernstein, I knew this was an organization that made a difference in so many people’s lives, and that I needed to get involved through the philanthropic spirit of Tito’s. I am happy to have been asked to take my participation to another level by serving on the Board of Directors with such an amazing group of people!”
Elyse Smithback, Fitchburg
First Vice President, Business Banking – Park Bank
As First Vice President–Business Banking at Park Bank, Elyse helps her clients achieve financial success mostly through Commercial Real Estate and C&I lending. She brings over 21 years of banking experience, holding leadership positions and belonging to several non-profit boards. Elyse holds a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies and Finances from UW Whitewater.
Nehomah Thundercloud, Black River Falls
Ho-Chunk Nation, Executive Director – Education Department
Nehomah is serving her second term as the Executive Director of Education for the Ho-Chunk Nation. She previously held roles as a board member of the Black River Falls School District, Director of the School-Community Relations Division for the HCN Education Department along with being the Senior Public Relations Director for Ho-Chunk Gaming – Wisconsin Dells.
Nehomah grew up in Black River Falls, was a Rotary Exchange Student to Bacolod City, Philippines, and holds degrees from Dartmouth College and UW-Stout. As the PR Director for HCG – Wisconsin Dells, Nehomah had the opportunity to attend a few Starry Night and Golf Outing events. There were other opportunities to participate in activities at Camp Wawbeek during the winter months.
Thundercloud shared, “I am impressed by Easterseals Wisconsin. I have family and friends who are thankful for the opportunities the organization has provided them, as campers and as parents. Now as a board member, I look forward to learning more and offering my help in expanding the Easterseals Wisconsin community.”
“My husband and I have been part of Easterseals Wisconsin for over 30 years. We have focused on fundraising for this organization because of their complete commitment to individuals with disabilities. Whether focused on Camp Wawbeek, Respite Camp, Self-Employment or the FARM Program, Easterseals Wisconsin is truly dedicated to changing lives.
I have spent 31 years in education as an administrator and teacher. Special Education has always been a focus and true love. I look forward to continuing my dedication to this organization and am honored to be part of the Easterseals Wisconsin Board.”
Before being named CEO in September 2020, Paul held various leadership positions within the agency. He is known best for his deep commitment to the clients served through Easterseals Wisconsin and has spent much of his career leading the agency’s nationally honored FARM Program since its inception in 1989.
In response to his promotion as CEO and President of Easterseals Wisconsin, “I’m fortunate to have had the chance to work with and learn from Christine Fessler for so many years and am grateful that she is leaving the agency in a stable and strong position,” says Leverenz. “It’s also been a true privilege to work with the talented and skilled staff that we have in the organization. I look forward to collaborating with them to move our services forward.”
Community Representatives & Committee Members
Carol Peirick, Middleton | Terri McCarthy, Madison | Melissa Warner, Madison