Wisconsin Idea Summit

Wisconsin Idea Conference

The event has concluded.

This year’s theme, Community University Partnerships for Stronger Communities, seeks to emphasize the importance of bringing together community and campus expertise, knowledge, and people power to create stronger communities, resilient systems, and a more just and equitable world. Both communities and the university have assets to share and vital roles to play in ensuring we are developing and sustaining engaged citizens that in turn strengthen our networks and our democracy.

Wisconsin Idea WeekWisconsin Idea Week has concluded

Contact: If you would like to provide additional sponsorship support, please reach out to Haley Madden. For questions about the event, please reach out to Cory Sprinkel.

Attending the Conference and Features of the Day

Hear remarks from Provost Charles Lee Isbell, Jr. and our community panel: What are Wisconsin’s Ideas? Cross Sector Perspectives on Community-University Partnerships featuring Joe Parisi, Sabrina Madison, Sara Richie, Sheri Johnson, and Zach Vruwink.

The Community University Partnership and Morgridge Center awards will be handed out to recipients during lunch. You can nominate yourself or others for these awards.

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Joe Parisi

Joe Parisi

Joe Parisi has called Dane County home his entire life. He sought out public service as a way to give back to a community that has given so much to him. Joe was first elected as county executive, the chief elected leader of Dane County, in 2011 after 6 years in the State Assembly and 8 years as Dane County Clerk. Joe’s priority is to ensure that everyone in our community has access to the opportunity to succeed. He believes investing in people pays big dividends. Joe knows this can work because he experienced it.

Sabrina Madison

Sabrina Madison
Sabrina “Heymiss Progress” is an award-winning entrepreneur in the Madison community and founder of The Progress Center for Black Women. She is known as an inspirational leader and connector who brings people together and makes big things happen. Sabrina is also a community organizer, poet, master collaborator and a proud mother of SaVance, a brilliant young man. Under the Heymiss Progress brand she’s created the Black Women’s Leadership Conference, the Conversation Mixtape, the Black Business Expo, and the Black Excellence Youth Conference. Her vision for The Progress Center for Black Women is to create a Madison community where Black women proliferate as powerful CEOs, owners of local shops and leaders in their own right. Sabrina is also an alder for the City of Madison.

Sara Richie

Sara Richie
Sara Richie is the Life Span Outreach Program Manager at UW-Madison, Division of Extension in the Human Development and Relationships Institute. She started my Extension career as a county-based Extension Educator in 2014, then moved into the Life Span Program Manager role in mid-2019. Life Span program areas of focus include family caregiving, increasing social connections, end of life planning and creating aging friendly communities.

Sheri Johnson

Sheri Johnson
Sheri Johnson is currently director of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, principal investigator of the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, and Professor (CHS) of Population Health Sciences. Dr. Johnson is a member of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine’s Roundtable on Population Health Improvement. She has dedicated her career to partnering with children, families, community organizations and systems to advance health and well-being. Awed by the resilience of individuals and communities, she is motivated to remove unfair obstacles and conditions that create and perpetuate health inequities. She was previously Director of Behavioral Health at Milwaukee Health Services, Inc., a federally qualified health center and served as the Administrator and State Health Officer for the Wisconsin Division of Public Health.

Zach Vruwink

Sheri Johnson
Zach Vruwink began his public service when first elected as Wisconsin Rapids’ mayor in 2012 in a 4-way general election garnering nearly 70% of the vote. He was 24 at the time. He was re-elected 3 times serving 8 years. He served as Rhinelander’s City Administrator from April 2020- October 2022. Zach joined the well-known and respected League of Wisconsin Municipalities in October 2022 as Chief Operating Officer where he will lead the operations with a member-focused municipal mindset. Zach completed his undergraduate study in political science & public administration, economics minor, at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

For more details on the conference overview, see below.

8:15 – 9:00am: Doors Open and Breakfast

9 – 9:30am: Welcome Remarks

9:30 – 10:30am: Plenary Panel

10:45am – noon: Breakout Session One

Noon – 1:30pm: Lunch and Community University Partnership/Morgridge Center Awards

1:30 – 2:45pm: Breakout Session Two

3 – 4:15pm: Breakout Session Three

4:15 – 5pm: Informal Social at The Sett

Faculty: At the conference, you’ll have the opportunity to 

  • Learn from and connect with current community-engaged scholars and practitioners about the diverse community-university partnerships on campus. 
  • Connect with faculty, staff, community partners, and students who share an interest in community-university engagement, and share your experience, challenges and insights with others doing similar work
  • Critically reflect on how academia can better respond to and address community interests 

Staff/community engagement practitioners: At the conference, you’ll have the opportunity to 

  • Connect with faculty, staff, community partners, and students who share an interest in community-university engagement.
  • Inspire others who are new to community engagement and share your perspective on how UW-Madison, as an institution and collection of scholars and practitioners, can most appropriately and fruitfully engage with community.
  • Critically examine community engagement and the university’s role in hindering and advancing equitable partnerships 

Community organizations, partners and public sector groups: at the conference you will

  • Connect with faculty, staff, and students who share an interest in community-university engagement.
  • Learn about university resources and ways community voice can guide UW research and teaching
  • Share stories and ideas about how universities can be better partners with their communities

Graduate students: At the conference, you’ll have the opportunity to 

  • Explore how community engagement can add meaning to your work, and how to get started in community-engaged scholarship as a graduate student. 
  • Share your experience, challenges and insights with others doing similar work. 
  • Reflect on the purpose of higher education and the responsibilities scholars and institutions of higher learning have to their communities 

Undergraduate students: At the conference, you’ll have the opportunity to 

  • Explore what community engagement means and ways to get involved with community engagement as an undergraduate. 
  • Learn about the diverse community-university partnerships on campus.
  • Connect with students, staff, faculty, and community partners who are interested in community-university engagement. 
  1. Strengthen relationships among UW community-engaged scholars, practitioners, and students that enhance interdisciplinary collaboration, networking and the professionalization of excellent community engagement. 
  2. Develop UW affiliates’ understanding of community engagement best practices and guiding values. 
  3. Elevate and learn from community voices and highlight exceptional examples of community-university partnership. 
  4. Provide university participants with strategies, pathways, and resources to support their active pursuit, development and maintenance of high-quality community-engaged practices.

The Wisconsin Idea has long served as a visionary ideal for our institution and has had a major influence on how our university understands its relationship with and responsibility to local communities.

However, the Wisconsin Idea has not always been used for progressive means and has its own complicated history and opinions on the university’s commitment to the idea vary widely.

Through this conference, we hope attendees are able to reflect critically on the role of universities in communities and grapple with some of the tensions inherent within the Wisconsin Idea, a few of which we share here for you to explore.

> Public History Project’s Teaching Resources on Eugenics and UW–Madison

> Campus Members reflect on the WI Idea

> The Wisconsin Idea: How do we define the concept? (Gwen Drury)

> Land-Grab Universities

> Changing the Wisconsin Idea

Can I attend the conference virtually?

  • Only sessions occurring in Varsity Hall will be available virtually — this includes the opening remarks, plenary panel, awards, and three breakout sessions. To attend virtually, please register here.

Where can I park? 

How can I help with the conference?

Schedule and Session Information

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8-9am, Varsity Hall

Registration opens, breakfast available.

9-9:30am, Varsity Hall: Opening Remarks

Travis Wright, Faculty Director of the Morgridge Center for Public Service

Diego Alegria, Poet

Carla Vigue, Director of Tribal Relations

Karl Martin, Dean of the Division of Extension

9:30-10:30am, Varsity Hall: Plenary Panel

What are Wisconsin’s Ideas? Cross Sector Perspectives on Community-University Partnerships and Possibilities 

Moderator: Dane County Executive Joe Parisi


  • Sabrina “Heymiss Progress” Madison, award-winning entrepreneur, founder of The Progress Center for Black Women, and City of Madison Alder
  • Sara Richie, Life Span Outreach Program Manager, UW-Madison Division of Extension
  • Sheri Johnson, Director of the UW Population Health Institute, principal investigator of the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, and Professor of Population Health Sciences
  • Zach Vruwink, Chief Operating Officer of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, former mayor of Wisconsin Rapids

10:30-10:45am: Break

10:45am-Noon: Breakout Session One

Agriculture Room

Building and Sustaining Capacity to Advance the Science and Practice of an Adaptive Horseback Riding Program for Persons Living with Dementia

  • Presenters: Jolie Hope, Executive Director of Three Gaits Therapeutic Riding Center; Mia Croyle, Stoughton School Board Member; Benazir Meera, Post-doctoral associate in Kinesiology; Hollee Camacho, Stoughton Area Senior Center; Traci Edmondson, Aging and Disability Resource Center; Beth Fields, Kinesiology Professor

Industry Room

Presentation 1

The Creation and Implementation of Creando Comunidad: Fostering Student Engagement and Activism through a Cohort Model

  • Presenters: Nasitta Keita, Community-Engaged Scholarship Graduate Assistant; and Bertha Gonzalez Gonzalez, Community Engagement Preparation Graduate Assistant
  • Creando Comunidad is a program that connects undergraduate students who are currently or striving to participate in community engagement, activism, and/or public service that centers on working with communities of color. Our mission is to center and empower the strengths of undergraduate students partaking in critical service work as well as provide opportunities for community building, collaboration, support, and personal/professional development. During the 2023-2024 academic year, the pilot of Creando Comunidad was implemented with 15 undergraduate students. Our session will go over the curriculum of Creando Comunidad, how it was implemented, as well as lessons learned and recommendations for implementing similar programs across university and community contexts. You will hear from the program’s co-creators as well as student perspectives. 

Presentation 2

Reflection in Community-based Learning

  • Panelist: Angela Johnson, Lecturer in Art
  • Participants will learn about the Service Learning in Art Class, building community partnerships, scaling up to add another class section, as well as intentional opportunities for student reflection. Participants will create a reflection zine and actively participate in small group discussions.

Traditions Room 

The critical (and humbling) shift from leader to follower: Collaborating with Forest County Potawatomi community advisors and clinicians to improve heart health

  • Presenters: Tom Boelter, Administrator of Health and Wellness with the Forest County Potawatomi; Anupama Joseph, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine; Kim Neuschel, Wisconsin Network for Research Support; and Kat Phelps, Wisconsin Network for Research Support
  • According to most standards of good practice in community engagement, this collaboration between the UW-Madison Department of Medicine and the Forest County Potawatomi (FCP) tribal nation was off to a good start. In partnership with the Native American Center for Health Professionals (NACHP), they jointly established a preventive cardiology outreach clinic, the first of its kind in Wisconsin. Dr. Anupama Joseph developed sustained relationships with FCP health clinic staff, including the director, Tom Boelter. Knowing that more than one in three people who identify as American Indian/Alaska Native die from cardiovascular events before the age of 65 (nearly 2.5 the rate seen in those who identify as non-Hispanic White), they set out to establish a FCP community advisory board and work with clinic staff to reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors. In this interactive session, you will hear from UW and Potawatomi partners how “the best laid plans” took an unexpected turn that ultimately deepened relationships, strengthened collaborative processes, and opened up the possibility of broader impacts for the FCP tribal nation. Along the way, university team members developed a profound appreciation for what it means to lean into cultural humility and let go of academic expectations around project management.

Varsity Hall

Presentation 1

Recovery Friendly Workplaces Marinette County: Changing SDoH by Addressing Economic Opportunities for those in Recovery

  • Panelist: Jennifer Park-Mroch, UW-Madison Extension Health and Well-Being Specialist; Beka Bussineau, Recovery Coach, Biehl Bridges to Recovery
  • Funded by the Wisconsin Partnership Program, Recovery Friendly Workplaces Marinette County is a collaborative effort between UW–Madison and Biehl Bridges to Recovery to address healthy equity in North East Wisconsin. The project addresses substance use and recovery education in workplaces while also providing support to those who are in recovery with resource mobilization, peer support, and workforce development. This session will present the overarching goals of Recovery Friendly Workplaces Marinette and describe the process of providing academic support to a community based project. The presentation will also feature the benefits and challenges of working with academic partners from a community organization’s standpoint.

Presentation 2

Moving the Needle on Housing Insecurity in a Rural Wisconsin County

  • Panelist: Luisa Gerasimo, Human Development and Relationship Educator, UW-Extension
  • Many communities in Wisconsin have a serious lack of housing across all categories, but we are especially short in housing that is affordable to the average family. This session will highlight some of the ways Dunn County, a rural county in Western Wisconsin, is bringing county government, public health, community partners, government agencies, UW Extension, and citizens together to create a more resilient housing landscape.

Wisconsin Idea Room

Presentation 1

Energy Research and Community Benefits Plans

  • Scott Williams, Research and Education Coordinator for Wisconsin Energy Institute; Oliver Schmitz, Associate Dean for Research Innovation in the College of Engineering
  • Community Benefits Plans are a relatively new required component of many energy research and development grant proposals to the U.S. Department of Energy. This has prompted science and engineering researchers to think more comprehensively about the potential impacts of their research and to collaborate with other disciplines to develop a community engagement strategy. For this presentation, we will provide an overview of Community Benefits Plans, how they are sparking ideas for new community-university relationships, and examples of successful proposals, with the hope of inspiring future collaborations.

Presentation 2: Lightning Talks

  • Federal Work Study: A Gateway to Community Engagement (Kristina Rittel, Office of Financial Aid)
  • Wisconsin Idea Database: Sharing Stories of State Impact (Jason Gohlke, University Communications)
  • Co-Create: A university resource to support YOU in community-campus partnerships (Amy Washbush, Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies)

Noon-1:30pm, Lunch, Varsity Hall

12:20pm: Remarks from Provost Charles Isbell

12:30pm: Awards with Director of Community Relations Brenda González

1:30-2:45pm: Breakout Session Two

Agriculture Room

Presentation 1

Impacting higher education through participatory action research with student activists

  • Presenter: Matthew Wolfgram, Wisconsin Center for Education Research
  • This session will discuss college student-engaged PAR, with some examples from participatory action research teams, and with an emphasis on how the approach can impact institutional change in higher education for minoritized students.

Presentation 2

Students Leading Students: Igniting Change, Empowering Communities

  • Panelists: Claudia Liverseed and Amanjot Kaur, Morgridge Center for Public Service
  • Student leadership is often talked about as a pillar for action on campus, but what does centering student leadership actually look like in practice? Through exploring two UW–Madison programs as case studies, participants will better understand the importance of student leadership in prompting action and empowering community change. The Morgridge Center’s Student Organization Partnership Program and BadgersVote initiatives have garnered acclaim for their effectiveness and for being led by students for students. Participants will learn about the impact that peer-to-peer leadership has on community engagement and will explore the following question: how can we better support organizing and work of student leaders?

Industry Room

Presentation 1

Essential Worker Rights Network: An Action Community-based Research Project

  • Presenters: Armando Ibarra, Professor in the School for Workers; Carolina Sarmiento, Professor in Civil Society and Community Studies; Revel Sims, Professor in Planning and Landscape Architecture; Voces de La Frontera staff member

Presentation 2

Juntos: Collaboration across the UW System to support Latine families in accessing higher education

  • Presenters: Molly Jo Bautch, Office of Student Financial Aid; Sarah Hawks, Family and Community Educator with Extension; Kate Ryan, Badger Precollege Program Coordinator

Traditions Room

Presentation 1

Engaging the Disability Community in Campus Partnerships, Past, Present, and Future

  • Presenters: Helen Rottier, Disability Cultural Center Program Coordinator; Kate Moran, Board Member of Disability Pride Madison; Priyanka Guptasarma, Undergraduate and activist; Mary Claire Kovacic, Disability Advocate

Presentation 2

Sustaining Youth-Adult Partnerships through Community-Engaged Curriculum Review

  • Presenters: Stepha Velednitsky, Organizational Learning & Training Specialist, UW-Madison Extension; and Monica Lobenstein, Learning Resources Specialist with UW-Extension

Varsity Hall Room

Presentation 1

Wisconsin in Black & White: Leveraging and Sharing Expertise for Quality Engagement

  • Presenters: Karen Reece,  VP for Research and Education, Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development; rederica Freyberg, News Director and Anchor of Here & Now, PBS Wisconsin; Dr. Alexander Gee, CEO, Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development; Murv Seymour, Special Projects Multimedia Reporter, PBS Wisconsin
  • Panelists share lessons learned from “Wisconsin in Black & White,” a multi-year collaboration between PBS Wisconsin and the Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development resulting in a broadcast and digital media series that explores how issues of historic, systemic racism have resulted in racial disparity in the daily lives of Wisconsin’s Black and white residents. Session includes a screening of content from the project.

Presentation 2

Fiscal Equity @UW: Caring for Community-University Partnerships

  • Presenters: Sarah Esmond, Associate Director, UW Collaborative Center for Health Equity and Leah Nell Adams, Administrative Manager, Division of Extension Health & Well Being Institute
  • Academic staff from UW are co-managing a campus conversation about Fiscal Equity with a particular emphasis on community partner compensation. Centering fiscal equity has required examining how we work with partners in service, education/training, and research endeavors, as well as how UW personnel are supported to transact business in fair and equitable ways. Built-in tension surround these issues given responsibilities we hold on campus and as practices, policies, and interpretation of policy, differ. Come hear about and engage around 3 common fiscal transactions we know can create barriers to establishing and maintaining community-campus partnerships.  Let’s clarify about guidance you use to overcome these barriers and use our collective wisdom to influence broader system and culture change in UW business practices.

Wisconsin Idea Room

Making Better Places Together Through Effective Listening

  • Presenters: Mayor of Milton Anissa Welch, Civil Society and Community Studies Professor Ben Fisher, and Design Studies Professor Uchita Vaid
  • During politically challenging times surrounding issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, UW-Madison has been under pressure to cut programs that do this work. At the same time, UniverCity Alliance has seen an uptick in Wisconsin communities seeking out UW-Madison’s help in making their communities more welcoming and places where all residents feel they belong. This session will inform the audience about how important it is to have DEI-related courses and expertise on campus so that we can respond to capacity-building requests from communities across Wisconsin. The session will also build instructors’ capacity to prepare their students for working on DEI efforts in community contexts.

2:45-3pm: Break

3-4:15pm: Breakout Session Three

Agriculture Room

Starting a New Community Partner Relationship – One Step at a Time

  • Panelists: Michael Maguire, Teaching Faculty III in Civil Society and Community Studies; Janet Staker Woerner, Ph.D. – CTLM Program Manager; Carl Sinderbrand, J.D. – Board Member, Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy (Middleton)

Industry Room

Cooking up change: Community-University Partnerships to Improve School Food in Madison

  • Presenters: Jennifer Gaddis, Professor of Civil Society and Community Studies; Amy Washbush, Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies; Josh Perkins, Director of Food and Nutrition with the Madison Metropolitan School District; Leigh Vierstra, Director of Innovation with the Madison Metropolitan School District; Natasha Sullivan, Madison Teachers Inc. Education Justice Center; Allison Pfaff Harris, Farm to School Director at REAP Food Group

Traditions Room

Presentation 1

Campus to Community: Leveraging Extension and Research Partnerships that Aim to Support Justice-Involved Families

  • Presenters: Dr. Pajarita Charles, UW-Madison School of Social Work; Dr. Julie Poehlmann, UW-Madison School of Human Ecology; Ronda Davis, UW-Madison Division of Extension; Victoria Ylizaliturri Fernandez, UW-Madison; Mary Campbell Wood, UW-Madison Division of Extension
  • Parental involvement in the criminal-legal system and incarceration can result in trauma and lifelong consequences for their children and families, including increased risks of poverty, behavioral health issues, and poor educational achievement. Incarceration often disrupts family relationships and obstructs parenting, making it difficult to maintain parent-child relationships and limiting possibilities for interaction.

Presentation 2

The long story of the UW-Madison Connection to Wisconsin Farmers Markets – Supporting Economic Growth and Food Equity

  • Panelists: Kristin Krokowski, Extension Horticulture Educator; Edna Ely-Ledesma, Professor of Planning and Landscape Architecture; Christi Gabrilska, Extension FoodWISE Nutrition Coordinator; Kelly Hammond, Extension FoodWISE Healthy Retail Specialist; and Sarah Smith
  • In this session we will explore how local partnerships alongside UW-supported research have supported increased buy-in of funders, governments, and communities. We will walk participants through how we leveraged local relationships between Extension staff and community partners to build research partnerships with UW Madison and engage graduate and undergraduate students in program evaluation and program development. These research partnerships have led to increased funding and support for farmers markets across Wisconsin.

Varsity Hall Room

Presentation 1

Developing Partnerships to Engage Rural Communities

  • Glenda Gillaspy, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Steve Deller, Professor of Agriculture and Applied Economics;  Dan Cornelius, Outreach Program Manager; Zoua Vang, Professor of Civil Society and Community Studies; Andy Garbacz, Associate Professor of Educational Psychology
  • The Rural Partnerships Institute (RPI) is a federally funded initiative to develop and enhance partnerships and explore novel solutions to the challenges rural communities face today. RPI funds community-based research, extension, and education projects that will develop and strengthen partnerships between rural communities and the UW- Madison research community to address priority problems and foster innovation that enhances Wisconsin’s rural communities. This session will feature diverse projects that are engaged in community-based research and programming that supports problem-solving and improving quality of life for rural communities. These projects are unique in that they are responding directly to priorities identified by rural stakeholder groups. This session will feature work on rural livability, community mental health, indigenous food systems, and community health workers.

Presentation 2

Community Impact and Engagement Through Seed to Table

  • Presenters: Daniel Cornelius (Oneida), Outreach Program Manager, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Yusuf Bin-Rella, Chef, UW-Madison Dining Services and TradeRoots

Wisconsin Idea Room

Presentation 1: Lightning Talks

  • Engaging Students to Develop Culturally Responsive Extension Programming to Support Hmong Farmers in Wisconsin (Bret Shaw, Professor of Life Sciences Communication)
  • WisCARES Community Veterinary Clinic: Protecting the human animal bond (Kelly Schultz, Medical Director of WisCARES)
  • Co-designing green schoolyards with elementary school students (Nathan Larson, Teaching Faculty in Planning and Landscape Architecture)
  • On-Farm Research to Improve Water Quality, Lindsey Rushford, On-Farm Nitrogen Optimization Program Coordinator

Presentation 2

Connecting people with health insurance coverage: a multi-sector, multi-layered, team sport

  • Presenters: Caroline Gomez-Tom and Tina Marshalek, Covering Wisconsin
  • Covering Wisconsin (CWI, a program of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension, helps people understand and sign up for low- and no-cost, publicly available health insurance and other programs that support health. Since the launch of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) a decade ago, CWI became Wisconsin’s designated Navigator entity, certified and funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to promote enrollment in Medicaid and the ACA (HealthCare.gov) Marketplace. They succeed by collaborating with public- and private-sector partners statewide.

4:15-5pm: Informal Networking


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