Two University of Wisconsin-Green Bay alumni who have risen to fearlessly face challenges in their profession and have shown their propensity to embrace diverse ideas and people will be honored as 2021 Alumni Award recipients. Additionally, Prevea Health President and CEO Dr. Ashok Rai, who models what it means to be a Phoenix—solving problems from multiple perspectives, and deep engagement in his community—will receive the title of Honorary Alumnus.
Because of the pandemic, the 2021 award winners will be celebrated with their 2022 peers in spring of 2022 at a formal awards ceremony.
Receiving this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award is Mary Gallagher ’90 (Theatre). From thousands of incredibly talented majors that have come out of UW-Green Bay’s Theatre program, Mary Gallagher stands out as having sustained success in professional film, television and commercial acting. Her roles included the lead in an NBC pilot directed by Rob Reiner, as well as television roles on Friends, The West Wing, How I Met Your Mother, Duckman (voice), NCIS, and Grey’s Anatomy. She has been in more than 50 commercials and costarred in movies with Jodie Foster and Reese Witherspoon. As a sketch comedian, she has performed on TV shows including Ellen and The Tonight Show. She hosted a pilot on E!, two seasons of a cult hit show on Game Show Network, and two seasons of a show produced by Kelsey Grammer, as well as costarring on David Spade’s Fameless on TruTV. She is currently on Prank Encounters, a Netflix hidden-camera comedy/horror show.
Gallagher also remains active in theater in Los Angeles; and her one-woman show won Best Actor in Hollywood’s15 Minutes of Fem Festival in 2010. Having started out in Green Bay opening for Sam Kinison at the City Center more than 30 years ago, she continues to evolve as a stand-up comic and perform in comedy clubs across America. She has been an in-house host at the world-famous Hollywood Improv as well as improvs throughout the county. After taking several years off to raise her daughter, she returned in 2015 to stand-up and in 2018 made her network TV stand-up debut on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Her comedy was later showcased on Amazon Prime’s Laugh After Dark. In 2017 a web series she co-created, Be My Therapist, was a finalist at the Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival and is now being developed as a possible TV series.
Through the years, Gallagher hasn’t forgotten her alma mater, returning to UW-Green Bay to mentor students in subject areas such as improv comedy and stand-up, and sharing with current students about what it takes to survive in the profession.
Receiving the 2021 Outstanding Recent Alumni Award is Nicole Schingick ’12 (Business Administration) and ’14 (Human Biology) who is currently the President of Rennes Group—comprised of Rennes Health & Rehab Centers (skilled nursing facilities), Renaissance Assisted Livings and the Residence by Rennes (memory care)—12 facilities in Northeast/Central Wisconsin. Nicole has a strong passion for providing exceptional care to the senior population, having grown up within the industry.
Schingick began her career with Rennes Group 15 years ago, starting as a caregiver, which remains one of her favorite roles of her career. She took advantage of learning as much as she could to include obtaining her Registered Dietitian Nutritionist credential in June 2015 and her Nursing Home Administrator license in October 2017. She has worked in multiple facilities as well until landing at the Rennes Group Office (Peshtigo) in 2019 as the vice president of Operations. In January 2020, Schingick was promoted to president where she continues to lead the business with the passion and energy. Her priorities, she says, are quality of care for the residents and providing a workplace where employees want to work.
Especially impressive is Schingick’s ability to lead through significant change while maintaining the quality of care, Rennes Group prides itself on. Whether it’s a major reimbursement reform or adapting to new requirements put forth by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic, she has taken whatever comes her way in stride because she is confident in her team, who she says, “together, will come out stronger regardless of what is thrown their way.”
Under Schingick’s leadership, the organization is positioned to navigate the changes or challenges that comes its way while never losing their focus on providing residents with the best quality of care.
Since obtaining her education from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Schingick has enjoyed trips back to campus to support learning, as well as provide UW-Green Bay students with opportunities outside of the campus. Supporting the UW-Green Bay Dietetics program has been notably important to her— whether through speaking to a class, providing internship opportunities, or continuing to support Rennes as a dietetic preceptor site—she finds value in remaining connected to those who have helped support her growth and career path along the way.
Dr. Ashok Rai will be named a UW-Green Bay Honorary Alumnus. He is the president and chief executive officer of Prevea Health—a physician-led, multispecialty health care provider working in partnership with Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) hospitals across Wisconsin. Prevea Health was founded in Green Bay, Wis. in 1996, and employs more than 2,000 people, offering high-quality patient care in more than 30 communities in clinic and HSHS hospital settings across Wisconsin, as well as a health insurance plan (Prevea360) with one of the largest coordinated networks across the state.
Dr. Rai has helped Prevea Health lead the way and set standards for high-quality, accessible and innovative COVID-19 education, prevention, testing, treatment and vaccination efforts across
Wisconsin—all of which have garnered attention from local, state and national health care leaders and journalists. Dr. Rai and his Prevea Health team worked to open one of the largest COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Wisconsin at the Kress Events Center on the Green Bay Campus, followed by sites at the Sheboygan and Marinette Campuses, helping the region recover from its most devastating pandemic of modern times.
While born and raised in Michigan, Dr. Rai attended undergraduate school and enrolled in the “Target M.D.” program at UW-Milwaukee, and completed his medical degree at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and then a residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics through Michigan State University. Following residency, he specialized in hospital medicine and held various leadership positions at HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital Medical Center in Green Bay and Prevea Health before becoming the President and CEO of Prevea Health in 2009. He continues to practice medicine and cares for patients at Woodside Lutheran Nursing Home in Green Bay.
Dr. Rai plays an active role in community and health care organizations. He joined the American Medical Group Association (AMGA) Board of Directors in 2012, serving as its chair in 2018. He is also Chairman of the Board of Weidner Center Presents; Chairman of the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon; serves the Board of Directors for the Automobile Gallery in Green Bay and Progress Lakeshore, and serves on the Board of Downtown Green Bay, Inc. He is also a member of the Chancellor’s Council of Trustees at UW-Green Bay.