Congrats to our 2024 SHEroes!

SHEroes are the everyday female heroes who are nominated annually by you, the community! 

Here are the local women going above and beyond to make a difference in Fond du Lac County and beyond:

Rebecca Johnson, Holiday Automotive

Rebecca Johnson was born and raised in Fond du Lac. She is the mother of two children, and by day she is the BDC Manager at Holiday Automotives. She not only prides herself on making sure everyone gets top-notch service, but she is also a part of Holiday’s effort to give back to their community. Rebecca learned from an early age about the importance of giving back and supporting her community and the people in it. Her mother would be so proud, as I am to see her following her true passion of volunteering and helping others. Rebecca demonstrated her ability to lead and make an impact by serving 6 years on the United Way of Fond du Lac Board and also serving as their past president. One of her many gifts is to give others a step up, especially women and girls. You can also see Rebecca volunteering at Blue Line Hockey where her daughter figures skates.

When I look at the Fond du Lac Area Women’s Fund vision of empowering women and inspiring girls, Rebecca Johnson is living those words.

Pam Sippel, Boys & Girls Club of Fond du Lac

Pam Sippel has played an integral part in creating equitable opportunities for youth, especially girls, in the Fond du Lac community. She has been a leader for both the Boys & Girls Club and Girls on the Run for many years. In both roles, she has ensured all youth are given equal opportunity to reach their full potential through providing access to programs that teach them about self-esteem, healthy relationships, emotional regulation, and being a leader. In the last 2 years, she has led an initiative to provide equal access for students from all Fond du Lac public schools, to attend afterschool programs at the Boys & Girls Club, by opening an additional program location and providing transportation from the three remaining unserved schools. Over 150 new youth have been able to access programs as a result of this initiative. In her time as the Council Director of Girls on the Run, she has grown the program from 11 teams and 173 girls in 2016 to 18 teams and 342 girls for the 2024 season. Pam has been a mentor, coach and now Council Director and through all her roles has made a lasting impact on girls who have taken part in the program.

Pam is often sought out for advice and mentorship with other leaders and is active in the community, co-chairing both Walleye Weekend and the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Fond du Lac County. I admire her commitment to making Fond du Lac an inclusive and exciting place to live. Anyone who knows Pam knows that she brings an optimistic outlook to everything she does and she always leaves a place better than it was!

Raina Lyman, Envision Greater Fond du Lac

Raina covers the entire Fond du Lac County region and works with aspiring entrepreneurs with an idea and the drive but not necessarily the financial acumen or accessibility to resources. Raina mentors/coaches and connects these individuals to free resources throughout the county and is in their corner every step of the way on their journey to realizing their dream and starting a business.

Raina earned credibility through the experience of creating and launching a coffee shop that donates all of its proceeds to local charities. She had the backing of a large rural employer, but basically figured all the steps in-between on her own. Raina’s personality is one that people gravitate toward and want to engage with. She earns trust, builds confidence, and delivers results. She can talk the talk and walk the walk; both are important when someone trusts you with their dream. For many, being self-employed is often not even a remote possibility, but Raina will be realistic with them and the goals they have set, and if the idea and plan aren’t good, she will tell them. Being honest and providing realistic feedback is exactly what they need to be successful. Raina stays in touch and goes above and beyond in supporting the entrepreneur’s dreams, even after they have “launched” the idea and business, Raina checks in often to provide further coaching and resources. Having an individual like Raina in your corner will make the difference in succeeding and creating a sustainable business model that will help her entrepreneurs well into the future. Raina finds joy in seeing others succeed, that is a rarity and should be celebrated. Raina is a SHEro to so many people, and our county is better because of her.

Melissa Schepp, Fond du Lac School District / Fondy Cares

In a world where mental health advocacy is more crucial than ever, Melissa’s unwavering dedication and passion shine brightly as a beacon of hope and support. As one of the creators of the Fondy Cares program, you have not only pioneered a vital initiative but have also nurtured it into a blossoming force for good in your community. From its inception, Fondy Cares has been a testament to your compassion, empathy, and tireless advocacy for mental health awareness. Your vision and leadership have transformed it from a mere idea into a thriving platform that offers solace, support, and resources to those in need. Your commitment to destigmatizing mental illness and fostering a culture of understanding and acceptance is truly commendable. Through Fondy Cares, you have provided a safe space for individuals to share their struggles, seek guidance, and find comfort in knowing that they are not alone in their journey toward healing. Your efforts have not only impacted the lives of those directly involved in the program but have also reverberated throughout the community, sparking conversations, and igniting change on a broader scale. Your advocacy has opened doors, shattered barriers, and empowered countless individuals to prioritize their mental well-being and seek the help they deserve.

Melissa’s tireless dedication to the cause of mental health advocacy is an inspiration to us all. Her willingness to speak up, act, and make a difference exemplifies the true essence of leadership and compassion.

Stephanie Crum Steinfort, ASTOP

Stephanie embodies the heart and soul of compassion as a licensed professional therapist at ASTOP Sexual Abuse Center. Throughout her entire career, she has been a steadfast advocate for promoting safety, dignity, and freedom from violence for survivors of abuse. Her commitment to empowering survivors is palpable in every session, as she tirelessly works to guide them on their healing journey. There is no greater testament to Stephanie’s impact than witnessing the transformation of individuals who leave her office standing taller and more resilient. Her passion for the survivors she serves is unwavering, fueling her dedication to providing them with the support and care they deserve. In addition to her direct work with survivors, Stephanie is a beacon of leadership, consciously paving the way for other young advocates to follow. Despite facing challenges over the years, she has not allowed them to deter her mission. Instead, Stephanie has embraced these challenges as opportunities to further fuel her commitment to advocacy and support.

Stephanie’s unwavering dedication, passion, and resilience make her a shining example of what it means to be a champion for survivors and a leader in victim advocacy services. Her impact resonates not only with those she directly serves but also with the broader community, inspiring us all to stand up for safety, dignity, and freedom from violence.

Amy Bayer

Amy’s remarkable contributions to our community, particularly in leadership development and her unwavering commitment to safety, dignity, and freedom from violence, underscore her deserving recognition. Amy has not only guided many emerging leaders, she has also instilled a culture of empowerment and growth. Her dedication to organizations like Domestic Violence Services, Solutions Center, and ASTOP, reflects her profound commitment to serving others and promoting the well-being of survivors.

Andrea Welsch

Andrea is without a doubt a pillar of leadership. She ignites, supports, encourages, strengthens, and continues to grow the Children’s Museum, including its children, families, and her team. 

Through partnering with area businesses, Andrea has made it her personal and professional mission to grow the museum. She is dedicated to raising up our community, its families, and its visitors! Her tireless hard work deserves recognition for what she puts into the community.

Brittany Lynch

Brittany Lynch is a cornerstone of the Fond du Lac community, investing her time and efforts in impactful ways. A prominent figure in the nonprofit sector, she currently serves on the boards of The Boys and Girls Club of Fond du Lac and is the Vice President of the We EmpowHer board.  She also actively engages as a Big Sister and leads a program at We EmpowHER.

In addition to her community-building initiatives, Brittany brings her expertise to the field of Human Resources at Commonwealth Companies, where her contributions resonate with a blend of professionalism and unwavering dedication. Her diverse involvement underscores a profound sense of community engagement and an authentic desire to effect positive change. Through her dedication to board service, impactful work in HR, and dedication to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion efforts, Brittany emerges as a true community leader, dedicated to enriching the lives of those around her through her selfless contributions.

Carrie Ahrens

As an advocate for underprivileged and disadvantaged youth, Carrie’s impact is profound. Beyond her role as a social worker, Carrie embodies the essence of true compassion and service. She is a miracle worker, seamlessly addressing the needs of our community with unwavering dedication and resolve. Carrie’s proactive approach sets her apart. She doesn’t wait for problems to arise; rather, she identifies needs and immediately takes action to prevent or resolve them. Her innate leadership qualities shine through as she navigates challenges with grace and determination. Nurturing by nature, Carrie’s genuine concern for the well-being of others is evident in everything she does. She is a constant source of support and comfort, ensuring that those around her feel valued and cared for.

Cathy Loomans & Sarah Docter

Cathy is the Director of the Fond du Lac Senior Center and Sarah is the Program Coordinator. They are a dynamic duo! The mission of the center focuses on enriching the physical, emotional, social and intellectual well-being of adults ages 50-103 in our Fond du Lac community, which includes over 2,600 members and 300 volunteers. Cathy is the Director of the Fond du Lac Senior Center and Sarah is the Program Coordinator. They are a dynamic duo! The mission of the center focuses on enriching the physical, emotional, social and intellectual well-being of adults ages 50-103 in our Fond du Lac community, which includes over 2,600 members and 300 volunteers.

Cathy and Sarah work tirelessly each day serving delicious lunches, facilitating an amazing variety of activities, and most importantly helping older adults find resources and stay connected. There is something for everyone! Cathy and Sarah are also dedicated to community partnerships. They consistently work with MPTC students for service learning and internship opportunities. Pivoting during Covid, they kept activities running online to help seniors stay engaged and in touch. Cathy and Sarah are truly two Angels here on Earth!

Charlotte Trotter

I am nominating Charlotte Trotter because she is an absolute community advocate and rock star. She is a disruptor and fights for social justice everywhere she sees an opportunity.

She inspires me through her resilience and strength. As a foster mom, for children of color, she provides opportunities and support spaces for kids to be safe and grow. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this recognition.

Cheryl Mohr

Cheryl Mohr has given her life to developing young girls into women who become productive members of society.  A legend in her own rite, this lady grew a career on the basketball court and a life where young girls find themselves and their purpose, becoming women who will become productive members of society.  Cheryl would influence basketball history in Wisconsin first, then as a Lady Razoback playing for Arkansas in college and professionally as a Columbus Mink.  In her was more than an incredible woman athlete.  Inside the heart of the exceptional basketball player was the desire to brake the traditional roles for girls.  Her wherewithal to compete with and face her male counterparts allowed this frontrunner to endure and rise above the challenges of being a female athlete, coach and business owner.  Cheryl founded Higher Level Camps (HLC) despite naysayers, and it is Wisconsin’s Longest Running Boys and Girls AAU Basketball Program, celebrating 27 years.  It thrives because of the importance placed on the pillars of character and commitment she demands. In Cheryl’s words, “It’s not about playing Division ! basketball.  It’s about being a better human being as well as a contributing member of society.   Find out what you’re passionate about in life and gear your career towards that.  Be part of something bigger than yourself.”
Cheryl retired from HLC but NOT from her work as an employee of life.  This whirlwind conducts basketball camps, refs, and has created a golf outing & a foundation to give back and help the less fortunate. She lives her commitment to contributing to society dedicated to growing, especially young women, into what she terms Legends in Life: “A LEGEND IN LIFE understands what happens when the arena lights go off – when they no longer shine for you.  It’s about character and heart. It’s about realizing you are ultimately here to give back  – you must never get so busy making a career that you forget to make a life. It’s about realizing we are ALL employed by life and those that achieve legendary status in life give back, and help pave the way for the next generation to become legends in life. Count your blessings.  Help someone less fortunate.  Do something to empower them to gain blessings of their own to count.  That’s a legend in life.“ 
Cheryl has a book about her and now a second edition is in the works.  She’s been inducted into 2020 -2021 Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. She is humble AND passionate about drawing others into her vision of being a legend in life.  The Salvation Army of Fond du Lac sees in her a role model we all can learn from and live better for knowing. She is an educator, an advocate, an athlete, a consummate professional AND an inspiring person.  An all-around SHEro.

Christa Williams

Christa has been a transformative leader in the Fond du Lac community for many years and continues to foster leadership development for individuals and organizations. Many of these programs are offered for free or at a discounted rate to allow any and all leaders to attend and
strengthen their leadership skills and embody servant leadership. Christa cares about serving others in order to create a more caring community for future generations. She has a servant’s heart. It’s apparent as you observe the way she interacts with attendees in the programs and workshops, in her passion for learning and growing as a leader, and when she is building genuine relationships in the community.

Through the work of Sophia, and in her personal life, Christa is helping everyone have the opportunity to be their best self and make an impact in the Fond du Lac community and beyond.

Isabel Williston

Isabel assumed the role of director at a time when ASTOP was in need of leadership. As Board President, she guided us through the transition to a new executive director. When at our recommendation she decided to apply for the executive director position the ASTOP Board was very enthusiastic. During her short tenure with us she has stabilized our organization, provided leadership and guidance to the staff and actively engaged in implementing the recently developed strategic plan. Isabel is mission-driven and demonstrates compassion and commitment to serving sexual assault victims.

Jessica Koch

Jessica Koch stands as a beacon of inspiration in the realm of Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS), proclaimed as a SHEro for her unwavering commitment to fortifying leaders and nurturing engaged workforces. In 2023, Jessica embarked on a transformative journey,
training leaders from 60 organizations with a singular mission: to cultivate strong recruitment practices, bolster retention strategies, and foster a culture of unwavering dedication within the HCBS sector. With a two-part in-person workshop coupled with personalized coaching opportunities, Jessica’s approach transcends conventional training methods. She doesn’t merely disseminate knowledge; she instills a sense of purpose and passion within each leader, empowering them to become catalysts for change within their organizations.

The impact of Jessica’s work reverberates far beyond the confines of boardrooms and training halls. By equipping leaders with the tools to navigate the complexities of recruitment and retention, she spearheads a movement that transcends statistics. The tangible results speak volumes: an average decrease of 17% in employee turnover and a 6% reduction in vacancy rates across participating organizations. Yet, Jessica’s true legacy lies in the lives she touches and the communities she serves. By addressing the pervasive caregiver shortage head-on, she ensures that some of society’s most vulnerable members receive the care and support they deserve. Through her tireless efforts, Jessica doesn’t just bridge gaps in staffing; she bridges gaps in compassion, dignity, and quality of life. In the tapestry of HCBS, Jessica Koch emerges as a luminary, illuminating the path towards a future where every individual receives the care and attention they require. Her unwavering dedication, coupled with her innovative approach to leadership development, cements her status as a SHEro—a champion of empowerment, resilience, and transformative change.

Joanne Pasiuk

Joanne currently is a Medical Director for Fond du Lac Regional Clinic and a former UW Navy general surgeon. Joanne is a community health advocate SHEro.

She fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in our community. She is a hand-raiser,
philanthropist, volunteer, and community trailblazer. Thank you, Joanne, for serving our country!

Julie Feilbach

Julie is the first female executive director at Blandine House following Sister Blandine opening it in 1970. Blandine House is a class AAA Community-Based Residential Treatment Center that serves adult male residents with AODA issues, with counseling, therapy, and education.
Julie’s skill, determination, and passion for helping those in need of addiction services are unequaled in her field. Her leadership has transformed the Blandine House into by far the most highly regarded men’s AODA treatment center in the state! Not only has she assembled a brilliant staff, but she has also developed an aftercare approach which has resulted in men remaining clean and sober long after treatment at a rate far higher than average. She’s saved lives and restored families. Many have seen firsthand how her compassion has empowered a remarkable number of men to become valued contributors to our community. Her relentless advocacy for them, extending far beyond her official duties, has been instrumental in their success.

Kim Eschenbauch

As an Organizational Impact Coach with Lakeland Care Plus, she emerges as a beacon of empowerment and transformation. Through her visionary leadership and dedication, Kim spearheads a journey of self-discovery and organizational evolution, guiding participants along
the transformative path of Gallup Strengths awareness and team building. Through her facilitation, Kim ignites a spark of self-awareness and mutual understanding, laying the foundation for cohesive teamwork and innovation.

Kim’s dedication to fostering a culture of inclusivity and empowerment transcends mere workshop facilitation. She embodies the spirit of a true SHEro, championing the potential within each individual and nurturing a collective ethos of growth and resilience. Through her tireless efforts, Kim paves the way for a brighter future, where organizations thrive on the strength of their people and the power of collaboration.

Noah Reif

Noah believes in and educates on empowering all our citizens and creating environments where everyone belongs. No looking away, looking through, looking past ANYONE because of their position in life, the body they’ve been put in, where they lay their head at night, or who they share their life with. Noah is so passionate about empowering all citizens that she ran for public office in 2016. Our community is better for her work at UW-FDL Extension and The Salvation Army’s warming shelter. She lives with the transparency that she educates, challenges every audience to examine their biases, and leads them to a deeper realization of our responsibility to each other. Only when we each realize ALL of what we are meant to give will our community rise to its fullest strength.

Sarah Klein

Sarah works at We EmpowHER as the Development Director. We EmpowHER provides women and children with a safe, supportive community where participants are encouraged and empowered to engage in year-round programming, utilize community resources and embrace the best versions of themselves as valued community members. Sarah consistently goes above and beyond demonstrating unwavering dedication and care for the amazing participants she serves. Staying true to her roots in education, she provides programming opportunities that help with leadership development, safety, confidence, health, well-being and so much more.

Her commitment extends beyond professional excellence; Sarah is also an extraordinary mother. Balancing the demands of her job with the responsibilities of motherhood, she exemplifies resilience, compassion, and a tireless work ethic. Sarah’s ability to navigate the challenges of her career while being a loving and nurturing mother is truly commendable. She sets a remarkable example for those around her, proving that dedication to both professional and personal responsibilities is not only achievable but can be done with grace and excellence.

– Introducing our 2024 Junior SHEroes –

Grace Coon

A dedicated young woman, she embraced the role of mentoring youth, particularly middle school girls in basketball, providing them with a role model to admire. Her commitment extended beyond the court, fostering team camaraderie through organized outings.

Amid personal challenges within her family, she exhibited unwavering strength and perseverance. Witnessing her resilience during difficult times has been a source of personal inspiration, shaping my own resilience.

Kiana Schranufnagel

Kiki started a teen group support system at her school since 6th grade empowering teens for better self-esteem. Her website is up and running and she was also featured on a podcast where she discussed her own journey with mental health and suicide ideation. It’s a top downloaded podcast and this young woman is going places. She just won Miss Fond du Lac and she embodies a shero in every way.

Laconia girls basketball team

The Laconia girl’s basketball team’s nomination as SHEros for the Fond du Lac Area’s Women’s Fund Power of the Purse event is unequivocally justified. Their recent triumph in clinching the State Championship serves as a testament to their unwavering dedication, resilience, and teamwork. Beyond their on-court achievements, these young athletes epitomize the values of determination, sportsmanship, and empowerment, inspiring not only their peers but also the broader community.

Their remarkable journey exemplifies the potential of women in sports, breaking barriers and redefining stereotypes. By recognizing their accomplishments, we not only celebrate their victory but also empower future generations of female athletes to pursue their dreams fearlessly. The Laconia girls basketball team’s nomination for this prestigious honor embodies the essence of what it means to be a SHEro, inspiring and uplifting others through their remarkable achievements and unwavering commitment.

Molly Duel

Molly is a junior at Laconia High School. Her aspirations are nothing short of remarkable, and there’s no doubt that she will achieve each one of them with her unwavering commitment and dedication. Molly’s aim to become valedictorian is a testament to her exceptional academic prowess and work ethic. Achieving such a prestigious status speaks volumes about her intellectual capabilities and relentless pursuit of excellence.

Equally impressive is Molly’s passion for sports. She dreams of representing her state in all three sports annually, showcasing her exceptional athleticism and competitive spirit. Molly’s accolades as a first-team all-conference athlete in track and cross country, along with her qualification for state championships in all sports, highlight her talent and dedication on the field. Her success doesn’t end there. Molly has also triumphed on a broader stage, emerging as a champion at the AAU Junior Olympics. These achievements underscore her hard work, perseverance, and ability to thrive under pressure.

She desires to compete at the collegiate level in Division I track and cross country while pursuing a degree in health science, which is a testament to your passion for both athletics and academics. Her involvement in the National Honor Society underscores her commitment to service and leadership, qualities that will undoubtedly serve you well in your future endeavors.

Sophie Norton

Sophie is a Junior SHEroe because of her growth and stepping out of her comfort zone to become a leader for a group of underclassmen that needed someone to look up to.

She has also taken on a role of drive and desire. The young you see today is strong and fierce and will become a leader in the corporate world whenever she decides to take that next step. I am proud of the young woman she is today. Keep being the bright light for little girls just like you Sophie!

Layan Manasrah

Inaugural Girl of Achievement

Who’s a SHEro in your life? 

Perhaps you want to take time to call them and tell them how special they are or make a gift in their honor – today’s a great day to reflect on the women in your life who make the world a better place and honor them in a special way.

Posted on May 23, 2024


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