By David H. Thompson, Vice Chair
Hiring staff to help FoLW in 2013 was a big step for us. Before then, Board Members organized programs, but it was hard for them to find sufficient time. Since hiring staff, FoLW has maintained more consistent contact with our partner organizations, including the DNR, Dane County Office of Lakes & Watersheds, the UW Arboretum, WI Salt Wise, and City Engineering. It also creates ease in applying for and administering grants. Our current Executive Director, Casey Hanson, now administers five grants. Casey came aboard as Program Manager in April 2017 and transitioned to Executive Director a year ago. She and her family plan to move overseas international move this fall so she will be stepping away from Friends of Lake Wingra.
“Casey elevated FoLW to a new level, in a very short amount of time,” said former Chair Ben Yahr. “Her creativity, organizational skills, and efficiency were really impressive. While she was the ‘face’ of the lake, much of the value of her work happened behind the scenes. She has set FoLW on a great path for the future.”
Casey said: “I feel proud of enhancing a framework to help move the needle a bit towards our goals in the watershed. By keeping in touch with partner organizations, I’ve found ways to insert FoLW views, volunteers, or expertise into their programs as opportunities arise. For example, when the City resurfaces or reconstructs a street, we can dovetail outreach and efforts to encourage more eligible homeowners to sign up for rain gardens. I will miss the connections I’ve formed in the community so much. Investing time to bond and engage with our donors, volunteers, and partners is a favorite part of my job and I believe is crucial to building a sense of community. Yes, that’s really me choosing the words behind those letters with my name on it, clicking send or applying the stamp on the envelope!”
Casey’s idea–the “Wingra Opine Water line”–encourages participation in watershed planning and action. “We ask for your opinion on Wingra issues or FoLW programming. Sometimes it includes a time-sensitive action you can take. The Water Line supplements our monthly e-news. biannual newsletters and websites. It’s a constructive space where people can take part in an active watershed network through dialogue or calls to action.”
We plan to have Casey in the ED role until September. FoLW is now looking for a replacement. We’re also losing our co-Chairs, Hannah Buscemi and Ian Krauss. So if you are one of our partner organizations, a grantor, or just a Friend looking for news, please be patient during the next few months of transition. We haven’t forgotten you, and soon will be back working to make the lake a more beautiful and healthy place for all to enjoy! We’re going to miss Casey’s firm and creative hand, and wish her well in her new digs.