Editor’s note: Wisconsin Youth Company recently celebrated three long-term board members who left the Board of Directors after serving two 3-year terms. We asked them to share their reflections on the experience.
To Justin, Gina, and Rebecca: Thank you for your service to our organization.
Justin Heim, former board member
It’s an honor to have served as a board member of Wisconsin Youth Company for the past seven years. The work that WYC does every day plays a key role in the future of our kids and our communities. Reflecting on my time on the board I think about what I’ve observed in the WYC staff. The words care, creativity and resilience come to mind.
Through conversations with staff and visiting programs over the years, it is clear how much each staff person cares about the work they do. They grasp how important it is that children have these opportunities to learn, grow and expand their potential. I can tell by the smiles on staff’s faces when they interact with kids that this work brings joy. The value of that care is immeasurable when it comes to impacting the lives of these kids and their families.
Engaging kids can be tough, and WYC staff make it seems effortless (don’t worry, I know it’s not!). The board sets out the overall goals of WYC as written in our Ends statements, but it is the staff who turn that vision into a reality every day with fun and creative projects and programs. The out-of-school space is important for growth and for kids to find out what interests them, what makes them excited, and what helps them tap into their own creative capacities.
The resilience of WYC staff became extremely apparent during this pandemic. Their ability and willingness to adapt to daily (sometimes hourly) changes during a time of crisis and confusion is admirable. This resilience is a key ingredient in a child’s ability to thrive in this world and WYC staff model it each and every day. I want to thank them for being excellent examples of how to face challenges and respond with care and intention.
Finally, the one thing I’m most proud of during my time on the board is being a part of the team that hired Rebecca Carlin as executive director. Rebecca exemplifies all these qualities and her leadership through this time in WYC’s history has been remarkable. If for some reason it is not apparent to you just how much Rebecca cares about every single staff member, every single child, every family, I can assure you that her level of dedication is unmatched. She continues to work tirelessly for you and with you, and I’m excited to see what you can all do together in the future.
I have so much respect for the work of this incredible organization and faith in the people who carry out its mission. Thank you for allowing me to be a small part of this journey to ensure that children in south central Wisconsin continue to thrive outside the school day.
Gina Pruski, former board member
My six years serving on the Board of Directors for the Wisconsin Youth Company was incredibly rewarding for many different reasons.
First, I had the opportunity to be a part of an organization that does noble work —providing an environment and atmosphere where the children in our community can thrive beyond the school day.
In addition, my service on the board enabled me to learn about the Policy Governance model of governance which emphasizes, for example, diversity in viewpoints, collective rather than individual decision-making, and being proactive rather than reactive.
Next, I met so many wonderful people along the way — the energetic and dedicated leadership and staff of WYC, committed fellow board members, and even some of the children participating in the programs.
Finally, serving on the board allowed me to give back to the organization — two of my kids participated in WYC’s After School program years ago. My kids loved After School and I was comforted knowing my kids were being well-cared for and happy.
Thank you, WYC, for everything you have given me.
Rebecca Ramirez, Ph.D., former board member
I was invited to join the board six years ago. This was a new adventure for me, despite having been on several different board of directors since the age of 16 (I’m currently 59 years old). This was the first Policy Governance board I have ever been a part of.
I was honored to be a board member of an organization with such a strong and long reputation in our community. We have been lucky to have great directors with incredible insight and foresight regarding WYC.