Vernon Economic Development Association Welcomes New Board Members | New
Kathy Neidert VEDA member of the board of directors
I want to introduce you to five dynamic women who have joined the board of directors of the Vernon Economic Development Association (VEDA). The first to join the five is Jenny Seiler from Viroqua who has worked with nonprofits in a variety of capacities, from office management in a conservation organization to founding a collective for a preschool program.
âThroughout my career, I have focused on building and serving communities so that they can work together to meet common needs,â she said, adding that âI am particularly good at talk to people in difficult situations, ask tough questions, find role models and flesh out roadmaps for organizations to achieve their goals and expand their impact.
With a Bachelor of Science in Ecology from the University of Texas at Austin and a Certificate in Conflict Management from the University of California Davis Extension as a foundation, Jenny also has skills as a graphic designer and illustrator. âI am inspired by the hard work the people of this region have done to build farms, businesses and organizations,â she said. âI deeply believe in building community resilience, and I think VEDA has done a great job in expanding the capacity of our region. I am delighted to use my skills to continue this work.
Another new member of VEDA’s board of directors is Hetti Brown de La Crosse, executive director of Couleecap, Inc., a community action program in western Wisconsin. Hetti brings over 12 years of executive leadership experience, including strategic planning, tax oversight and governance. A âpassionate advocate of creating a community where everyone can thrive and succeed,â she oversees more than 20 programs and 50 federal, state and private grants to address the causes and conditions of poverty.
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She is also vice-chair of the Wisconsin Community Action Program and vice-chair of the La Crosse Area Family Collaborative, the board of directors of the Scenic Bluffs Community Health Center and various other community committees. Prior to joining Couleecap, Hetti held leadership positions in the Delaware State Government, a national nonprofit organization, and the private sector pharmaceutical industry.
She sees small businesses as âthe backbone of rural prosperity. They provide the most jobs in the county, invest socially and economically at the local level, and help create the unique sense of community that residents need, âshe said. âBut a strong small business economy does not happen by accident. Entrepreneurs benefit from training, technical assistance, mentoring and access to resources. Whether they are just starting out or ready to grow, VEDA is here to help them succeed. Hetti sits on the VEDA Board of Directors because she believes in its mission and “the opportunity the organization has to advance the small business economy in Vernon County.”
Our third new board member is Kathleen Crittenden from Viroqua rural. After obtaining his doctorate. in Sociology from Purdue University, she has spent her entire professional career as a faculty member at the University of Illinois at Chicago, as Director of Graduate Studies, winning teaching awards and teaching. as president of the Midwest Sociological Society. She retired as a professor of sociology in 2000, but continues to be active in research and publication.
After retiring, in search of a healthier and more sustainable life, she and her husband Kelvin Rodolfo built a zero-energy house on land in Vernon County. After taking a permaculture design course from Midwest Permaculture, they âlearned as we develop a permaculture farm,â she said.
Kathleen’s area activities include her participation in the Fifth Season Cooperative, a board member of Valley Stewardship Network and a producer and board member of her food and agricultural gleaning project, Small Family Farm CSA. and American Hazelnut Company. She also sits on the Zoning Committee of the Township of Viroqua.
âI agree with VEDA that agriculture and food are the engines for the development of the local economy, and I have observed the efforts and achievements of VEDA to foster this development. I want to do whatever I can to help, âshe said of her position on the VEDA board.
Staci Pieper from Ontario is our fourth new member of the VEDA Board of Directors. Born and raised in the Rockton area, she earned a Civil Engineering degree from UW-Platteville in addition to a Masters of Business Administration and a Masters of Engineering, Sustainable Systems Engineering. She worked in the Eau Claire area for about six years as a highway construction project engineer before returning to the Kickapoo Valley. Currently project manager at Dairyland Power Cooperative, she works on projects in power plants, on the construction of substations, renovation and construction of new buildings.
Staci has owned the nine-bedroom Driftwood Inn Motel in Ontario since 2008 and enjoys talking to her tourist clients about “all the great things to do in the area.” As a small business owner, âI understand what small businesses need to survive and thrive in our region,â she said. “For several years, I was a member of the board of directors of the Vernon County Tourism Council, which provided educational programs for local business owners and purchased advertising in various media sources for the county.”
His interest in serving on the VEDA Board of Directors is âto help our region move forward. I believe we all do better when we work together and I feel like this is one way to help the region do better. I also think being a board member is a great opportunity to learn even more about the Driftless Zone and what it has to offer for those interested in doing business here.
Our newest board member is Karen Innis from Viroqua rural. After moving from California to Viroqua in 1991, she has been connecting and making a difference in our community ever since. With a Master of Arts in Sculpture from California State University, she has produced and exhibited her work and taught art at schools and studios in California and Wisconsin, including Viroqua Area Schools, University of Wisconsin, La Crosse and Very Special by Madison. Arts Wisconsin where she planned and implemented accessible art programs statewide.
In collaboration with Viroqua Partners, she received the Wisconsin Downtown Action Council’s âVolunteer of the Yearâ award in 1995 and directed the creation of three public murals in Viroqua. Karen has served on numerous boards, including that of The Associates to Restore the Temple Theater, Ltd. (ARTT), Couleecap, the Viroqua Fine Arts Association and the Ark Center for the Arts (The Commons).
From 2001 to 2015, she was a member of the Marketing Department of Organic Valley where she built and led the Trade Shows and Events Department, managing public events and educational farm tours. Since her âretirementâ in 2015, she now enjoys being a licensed real estate agent and owner / operator of Front Porch Framing, a personalized photo framing service at the Viroqua Public Market.
âDeeply interested in the process of human connection through participation,â Karen is proud to be a member of the VEDA Board of Directors. âIt is important for me to contribute to memorable and meaningful experiences in my community,â she said, adding that âVEDA is a proven organization with strong leadership and a vision that can grow and maximize individual expertise. .
We value the service of these women and are delighted to work with them on our Board of Directors. For more information on VEDA, visit www.veda-wi.org or contact Sue Noble at 608-638-8332 or [email protected]
Kathy Neidert is a member of the board of directors of the Vernon Economic Development Association (VEDA).