UW-Green Bay alumna Delbecchi named ‘Young Professional of the Year’

On March 26, 2021, Current Young Professionals hosted the virtual 2021 Future 15 & Young Professional Awards, presented by the Schneider MBA program at St. Norbert College.

The recipient of the 2021 Young Professional of the Year, presented by KBX Logistics, is Diana Delbecchi ’10 (Psychology, Human Development), community schools resource coordinator for the Green Bay Area Public School District. Delbecchi is passionate about helping young leaders achieve their dreams. She also advocates for culturally-responsive curriculum to improve literacy and writing scores, increase family engagement in schools, raise high school graduations rates and open doors for children in the community to become the next generation of leaders.

Current Young Professionals is a program of the Greater Green Bay Chamber. Hosted on Zoom, 23 finalists were honored for their positive impact on the Greater Green Bay area through professional accomplishments, community engagement, entrepreneurial success and prioritizing the development of young professionals. The Future 15 & Young Professional Awards includes “Future 15” recipients, Young Professional of the Year, Young Entrepreneur of the Year and Next Generation Best Place to Work finalists and awardees.

A year ago, she was honored as one of UW-Green Bay’s Outstanding Alumni.


Photo by Northcoast Productions

Smaller Thanksgiving gatherings provide opportunities to increase our gratitude

“I think the reason … certain Thanksgiving rituals are important, is because they serve as memory primes, releasing associated positive feelings,” said Regan A. R. Gurung, former professor of human development and psychology at UW-Green Bay. Source: Smaller Thanksgiving gatherings provide opportunities to increase our gratitude, Marshfield News-Herald

UW-Green Bay’s Cindy L. Johnson named ‘most influential’ Latina

Cindy Lopez Johnson ’13,  a multicultural advisor at UW-Green Bay, has been named to the list of “The 39 Most Influential Latinos in Wisconsin, Part 5.” Johnson provided individualized support for first-generation, limited-income college students through academic advising, student success and life skills development, career planning, financial literacy, and financial aid & scholarship assistance. Johnson received degrees in Human Development and Spanish from UW-Green Bay and a Master’s in Higher Education (College Student Affairs) from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2015.

Congratulations to Career Services personnel and others on successful virtual job fair

Career Services partnered with the Green Bay Area Public School (GBAPS) District to offer a virtual job fair for UW-Green Bay students and alumni. Eleven individual video chat rooms were made available for participation on Tuesday, May 19, 2020.  Candidates participated in eight of the rooms assigned by certification area. There were 29 unique students and alumni who participated in a total of 36 scheduled chat sessions with over 20 representatives from GBAPS during a four-hour window of the virtual event. The virtual job fair was led by Career Services staff members Linda Peacock-Landrum and Karla Miller. They received technical support from Nichole LaGrow, Distance Education coordinator and outreach support to alumni from Kari Moody, director of Alumni Relations. This is what one participant had to say:

“With the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is influencing the traditional process of career fairs and interviews for Spring 2020 graduates (and possibly for future graduates to come). As a school and clinical mental health Social Work graduate, I found the virtual career fair with the Green Bay Area Public School District to be so influential and needed! To be able to put a face to my submitted applications and meet the future hiring team says a lot! It was a quick and easy process.”

See ViXai Thao, ’16 (Human Development) and ’20 (Master of Social Work)


UW-Green Bay researchers seeking adults 65 and older for Oral-History Project – Door County Pulse

UW-Green Bay researchers are seeking adults ages 65 and older to participate in the Oral-History Project: Exploring Purpose and Meaning in the Life Stories of Older Adults. This project seeks to illuminate the purpose and meaning assigned to significant life experiences and milestone events as described by older adults. Participants will be asked to tell their life story and discuss social events, cultural forces and personal concerns that shaped their life from the earliest times to the present moment. Within this framework, participants may discuss interests, family histories, sociocultural influences, careers, cognitive and intellectual changes, life challenges and more. Source: UWGB Researchers Seeking Adults 65 and Older for Oral-History Project – Door County Pulse

2020 UW-Green Bay Alumni Awards Collage

UW-Green Bay to recognize outstanding young and distinguished alumni at 2020 Alumni Awards Dinner, Feb. 28

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 alumni@uwgb.edu.

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
Neil Diboll

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
Todd Jadin

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

Paul Northway
Paul Northway

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. He served on the UW-Green Bay Alumni Association board for a number of years. 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
Lisa Merkel

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

Amanda Rietz
Amanda Rietz

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

Brian Mannering
Brian Mannering

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.


When Things Go Wrong, Don’t Catastrophize | Wisconsin Public Radio with Ryan Martin

“When you forget your umbrella, stain your shirt, or miss an appointment, it’s easy to think that your whole day is ruined. We talk with an expert on anger about how to stop blowing things out of proportion, also known as ‘catastrophizing.'” Associate Dean Ryan Martin talks with WPR about the subject via When Things Go Wrong, Don’t Catastrophize | Wisconsin Public Radio.

Interdisciplinary UW-Green Bay team places second in WiSys Innovation Showcase

UW-Green Bay students Carol Brehmer (Human Development and Business Administration) and Ebanie Schmidt ’19 (Design Arts) took second place in the WiSys Innovation Showcase on July 22, 2019 with their innovation “PIVOTAL.” The student competition was held at UW-Stout during WiSys’ annual celebration of research and innovation, known as WSTS.

PIVOTAL is a hypoallergenic, easy-to-use and comfortable belt designed for outdoor hobbyists and enthusiasts along with blue-collar workers. The concept for PIVOTAL was also presented as part of WiSys’ Innovation in Aging competition at UW-Green Bay earlier this year. The Innovation Showcase highlights innovative, hands-on projects in any academic discipline. Students are invited to display their projects among their statewide colleagues in parallel with a student poster symposium. Just as innovation can take on many forms, students’ final, tangible projects may be demonstrated as a prototype, computer display, application storyboard, etc.

Psychology faculty Jason Cowell and Sawa Senzaki study the pilots' brain activity.

Little Pilots, Big Study

There’s a jet plane in Mary Ann Cofrin Hall—in the psychology lab, to be exact. It’s colorful, about three feet tall and crafted of high-density plastic body foam with a padded seat. The “pilot” is about three years old, wearing a “helmet” of blinking LEDs with lots of protruding wires. He’s busy studying a computer screen and obviously enjoying himself. Nearby, an undergraduate student monitors the pilot’s brain activity. Mom is watching nearby through a two-way mirror.

Child research subject wearing EEG cap.The space that’s being explored is between his ears. Technically what’s being recorded is a neurophysiological reading of brain activity through an electroencephalographic (EEG) “hat.”
The whole experience is completely painless and takes about 45 minutes— about the same as a haircut.

This isn’t just a solo flight. (He’s approximately pilot number 300 and counting). It’s all part of a multi-cultural research project developed by UW-Green Bay psychology and human development professors Sawa Senzaki and Jason Cowell.  The title is impressive: The Role of Parental Socialization in the Neurophysical Development of Moral Evaluation Across Cultures.
And what’s really enabled this project to take off is a $365,500 grant from The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It’s a prestigious grant with an award rate of about seven percent (comparable to being accepted to Yale or MIT).

Psychology faculty Sawa Senzaki fitting subject with EEG cap
Sawa Senzaki fitting subject with EEG cap

“I came here in 2013; my research is about cultural psychology,” Senzaki says. “I’m interested in looking at how parenting is shaped in different cultural ways.” She’s currently an associate professor and has worked to expand psychological research to more diverse cultures. “Only 12 percent of the world’s population (primarily the U.S., Canada and Western Europe) represents 96 percent of all psychological research data.”

As a leading researcher in cultural psychology, Senzaki also focuses on both the changes and similarities that occur in children as they age and how those changes can be impacted by cultural and social influences. “What I am interested in personally is how parenting shapes these different cultural ways childhood development is impacted.”

Psychology faculty Jason Cowell studys child's brain activity
Jason Cowell with participant

Cowell, currently an assistant professor, arrived on campus in 2015 with an interest in developmental neuroscience—a new field that “looked” at the brains of children as they’re starting to learn skills like moral decision making. What brought them together was the classic area of psychological theory, “nature vs. nurture” and the intersection of their mutual interest in child development.

So how does one measure neurophysical development in three-to five-year-olds?

“We show them cartoons,” Cowell explains, displaying the screen our pilot was viewing. We’re looking at how children’s brains react to ‘good’ and ‘bad’ acts in cartoons.”

Cowell also credits UW-Green Bay as being a great fit for nurturing an academic’s professional goals. “Why this is a cool thing is that Sawa and I have done a lot of research in our past, so when we came here, we wanted to continue. The best way to keep research going is to bring in external funding. So, we spent a couple of years applying for several grants and finally received a really good one. This is a unique opportunity for the University.”

Another positive aspect of this particular grant is its focus on undergraduates as paid assistants.

The undergraduate assistants play with the kids and get them used to the lab. “It’s the really cool part because the undergrads do all of this and they really do a good job.”

UW-Green Bay junior psychology major Kate Sorebo took advantage of this rare opportunity. “I was browsing through the Psychology program want ads and came across Prof. Senzaki’s ad for a research assistant. I got in contact with her, had an interview and the rest is history!”

Sorebo appreciates the effort it takes just to put little “pilots” in the plane. “The kids that come in are such intelligent and energetic participants, it’s always a good time.” Plus, this experience is shaping her future plans to go to graduate school and focus on educational psychology with an emphasis on how children with special needs learn and grow as individuals.

And as far as the University goes, Senzaki envisions their research as the launching pad to even greater things. “It’s a three-year grant so we’ll be doing several different variances of this project, including international collaborations in Japan.”

Senzaki also sees the project enhancing regional and national awareness of UW-Green Bay’s research capabilities. “Part of the benefit of the grant is to expose students to opportunities that are on par with some of the most prestigious universities in the country.” With more than 800 psychology and human development majors and minors currently on campus, this is one little pilot program that’s really taking off.