LaForce President and CEO Brian Mannering will receive an Honorary Alumni Award
Green Bay, Wis.—The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay will recognize a number of outstanding alumni and one honorary alumnus at the 2020 Alumni Awards Dinner, Friday, Feb. 28, 2020 in the Phoenix Rooms on the Green Bay Campus at 5 p.m. The event is open to the public. The cost is $50 per person. For more information, contact the UW-Green Bay Alumni Office at 920-465-2074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Receiving this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award are Neil Diboll ’78, Todd Jadin ’84, Paul Northway ’90 and Lisa Merkel ’00 and ’10. Diana Delbecchi ’10 and Amanda Reitz ’08 will be honored with the Outstanding Recent Alumni Award and Brian Mannering, CEO and president of LaForce, will be designated as an Honorary Alumnus.
The Alumni Awards highlight UW-Green Bay graduates and other individuals who have made special contributions to UW-Green Bay, their communities and professions. Awardees go through a nomination and selection process by committee consisting of internal staff and past Alumni Award recipients. About the awardees:
Neil Diboll ’78 (Environmental Sciences) is currently a prairie ecologist at the Prairie Nursery in Westfield, Wis. He attended the University of Michigan Biological Station in Pellston, MI (Boot Camp for Biologists) during the summer of 1977. He has since worked for the U.S. Park Service in Virginia, the U.S. Forest Service in Colorado and the University of Wisconsin. In 1982, Diboll began his involvement with Prairie Nursery, producing native plants and seeds and designing native landscapes. He has since devoted his efforts to championing the use of prairie plants, as well as native trees, shrubs and wetland plants, in contemporary American landscapes. In addition to helping popularize the use of native plants long before they were “cool,” Diboll developed the first scientific methodology for designing prairie seed mixes. Diboll’s work includes designs for residential, commercial and public spaces throughout the Midwest and Northeast United States. The essence of Diboll’s philosophy is that we, as stewards of the planet, must work to preserve and increase the diversity of native plants and animals with which we share our world. The protection of our natural heritage and our soil and water resources is essential to maintaining a high quality of life for today and for the children of future generations to come.
Todd Jadin ’84 (Business Administration) is vice president of Associate Relations and Talent Management for Schneider, a premier provider of transportation, intermodal and logistics services. In this position, Jadin is responsible for delivering an exceptional associate experience on behalf of the company. He is accountable for corporate recruiting, learning and development, change management, associate relations, employment law compliance and the human capital processes—which includes performance appraisals, succession planning and overall talent management. He began his professional career with Schneider in Feb. 1985 as an extended coverage manager. Since then, he has held leadership positions in nearly every operating unit of the business. Previous roles during his 35-year tenure have included director of Network Planning, general manager of Integrated Delivery Fleet Services, senior vice president of Dedicated Services, senior vice president of Operations, vice president of Alliance Capacity and vice president of Schneider’s Mexico division. As an industry expert, he has represented Schneider on the Council of Logistics Management, the North American Transportation Alliance, the American Trucking Associations Intermodal Council and the BNSF Customer Advisory Board. He has also been recognized as a “Logistics Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Chain Executive Magazine. Most recently, he was awarded the inaugural Don Schneider Presidential Award by Schneider in Feb. 2019. Jadin served or continues to serve his community in his role on the Board of Directors for the YMCA of Green Bay, the UW-Green Bay Founders Association and the UW-Green Bay Alumni Board of Directors. He is also a member of the Schneider Foundation core team. In addition, Jadin has been actively involved in youth basketball in the Green Bay area. He serves as president of the Green Bay Area Girls Basketball Association, he coached numerous boys and girls Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball teams and he was a member of the boys’ varsity staff at Notre Dame Academy High School. He has been married to his wife, Sara, for 30 years, and together they have four children: Hanna, Kate, Dante and Tessa.
Paul Northway ’90 (Business Administration, Political Science) joined American National Bank in 2013 as part of a succession plan for key executives who were retiring. In his current role as CEO, Northway is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the local business bank, as well as being the caretaker of the company’s culture. Northway is also a member of the bank’s Board of Directors. With nearly 30 years of experience in the financial industry, Northway is very adept at developing mutually beneficial relationships throughout the community. Prior to joining American National Bank, Northway had leadership roles at Baylake Bank (regional
president) and Associated Bank (Commercial Banking Team leader). Northway is a lifelong resident of Northeast Wisconsin, having grown up in De Pere. He obtained an MBA at UW-Oshkosh and completed the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin. Passionate about his alma mater, Northway and his wife, Kristin, have established a scholarship at UW-Green Bay for business students. He serves as a member of the Chancellor’s Council of Trustees. A season ticket holder for men’s basketball and a supporter of the Phoenix Fund, you will find him cheering on the Phoenix from his seats behind the bench. Additionally, Northway regularly speaks to classes on campus about the topic of selling and sales management. In 2012, he was recognized by the Cofrin School of Business as an honorary inductee into Sigma Beta Delta. Other community involvement includes service on the board of directors and executive committee of both, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fox Valley and Curative Connections. Northway served as the chair of Curative’s Rising Tide Capital Campaign in 2018. His contributions in the community have been recognized by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Wisconsin (Marie Krohn Award) and Neighborworks Green Bay (Community Builder Award). Northway and his wife have two children, Andrew, a current UW-Green Bay student, and Aaron.
Lisa Merkel ’00 and ’10 (Bachelor of Science in Biology and Master of Science in Applied Leadership for Teaching and Learning) A passionate teacher, Merkel has been an educator at Green Bay West High School since 2001, where she currently teaches Physical Science and Chemistry classes. The effects of poverty on learning was the focus of her research as a graduate student at UW-Green Bay. For nearly a decade, Merkel developed and taught two graduate classes related to the education of impoverished children to area educators and administrators through the UW-Green Bay Outreach Program (now Continuing Education and Community Engagement). She contributes her expertise on the effects of poverty on learning in a variety of programs including the Green Bay West Building Leadership Team, AVID, S3 teaching teams, Student Council and the Medical College of Wisconsin Equity Team. In 2014, won an equity award from the Green Bay Education Association for her dedication and commitment to uniting cultures through education. In 2016, Merkel was awarded the Herb Kohl Foundation Fellowship Award for teaching excellence and innovation in the State of Wisconsin. In 2018, she received a Serious About STEM (SAS) grant for $100,000 from the Medical College of Wisconsin to implement the program she developed to increase positive outcomes for first-generation female students interested in STEM fields. Lisa and her husband, UW-Green Bay Professor Brian Merkel, love spending time with their three beautiful children and Jade, an unapologetically spoiled Weimaraner and true baby of the family.
Diana Delbecchi ‘10 (Psychology and Human Development) is a passionate social justice advocate with a key interest in refugee rights and issues around educational equity. After graduating from UW-Green Bay in 2010, she served as the University’s Student Employment and Scholarships coordinator for almost five years. Leaving to pursue her own dreams of a higher education, she moved to Ireland and received a Master’s Degree in Gender, Globalisation and Rights. Since graduating in 2016, she has spent time working abroad in a refugee camp providing educational programming for out-of-school refugee youth, where she conducted a research project that led to the design and implementation of the first youth education program in a refugee camp of 700 residents. Delbecchi also helped found a local group for resettled refugee youth in Green Bay called the United ReSisters. This group helps make the dreams of college education accessible, affordable and achievable for these young women. The group recently published a book on their experiences titled “The First Winter.” Delbecchi also served as the assistant director for a freshmen travel program at St. Norbert College and is currently the Green Bay Area Public School’s first-ever Community Schools Resource coordinator. Delbecchi was a contributing author for the scholarly publication, “Journey to Refuge: Understanding the Refugee, Exploring Trauma, and Best Practices for Newcomers and Schools.”
Amanda Reitz ’08 (Elementary Education) is the founder of Happily Ever After Animal Sanctuary (HEA). She was born, raised, educated and now lives in Green Bay. Reitz’s passion is simple; she loves creating positive change for pets and people across the nation. She founded HEA at just 21-years old. This dream wasn’t supported by everyone. Her father’s words were, “forget about it…it’s never going to happen.” Ironically, he has been extensively involved every step of the way. Today, both of her parents and her brother have made HEA’s
mission their life’s work. Reitz founded HEA when many communities were killing more than 50% of the dogs and cats that entered their animal shelters. Since 2006, HEA has successfully paired more than 4,000 companion animals with loving families. While proud of the impact, Reitz is far from satisfied. There are still hundreds of thousands of animals dying in shelters every year. She wants to see a world where the life of every companion animal matters. Reitz has been recognized by UW-Green Bay’s Inside Magazine as a Service-Minded Alumni, the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce (1 of 20 People You Should Know), and by You Magazine (1 of 20 Women to Know). She’s also a graduate of Leadership Green Bay’s class of 2012. Grateful for her faith, her family and her community, Reitz finds the greatest joy in being able to engage her heart in the service of others—both people and pets.
Brian Mannering will receive the Honorary Alumni Award. Mannering is committed and passionate about the Green Bay community and the important role that UW-Green Bay plays in the continued growth and prosperity of Northeast Wisconsin. Although not an alumnus, the president and CEO of LaForce Inc., has demonstrated incredible support for UW-Green Bay. He is a member of the Phoenix men’s basketball golf
committee, is an avid fan, and spreads this excitement throughout the company he leads. Mannering and LaForce continue to support various initiatives throughout campus including a recent gift to the Phoenix Innovation Park and the development of the University’s new Mechanical Engineering Program. LaForce Inc., headquartered in Green Bay, Wis. with additional offices across the United States, is a leader in providing door opening solutions for life safety and building security. Mannering has a proven executive management track record with more than 30 years of experience driving sales and growth for LaForce. He began his career in shipping & receiving and has held numerous positions in the company, including vice president of sales and vice president. In 2007, he was named president of the growing company, and in 2016 he acquired the title of CEO. Mannering models efforts of community engagement and encourages LaForce employees to do the same through corporate donations and employee activities. A native of Green Bay, Mannering believes the development of a community has a strong impact on the success of a company. Mannering is a member of the Chancellor’s Council of Trustees and is an active supporter of the NEW Community Shelter. He previously served as a board member for the Green Bay Boys & Girls Club. Brian and his wife Amy have been married for 33 years and have three children: Austin, Alyssa (a UW-Green Bay graduate) and Brock.