Katherine Bruni

Fulbright honor takes UW-Green Bay graduate from Wisconsin to the Netherlands

Katherine Bruni has always wanted to make a positive impact on the world. She is well on her way.

While UW-Green Bay was her first stop from her hometown of Baraboo, Wis., the world awaits this passionate Phoenix whose next destination is the Netherlands to study public policy and human development with a focus on risk and vulnerability studies. Bruni will be earning a master’s degree at Maastricht University’s Public Policy and Human Development program—a dual-degree program with the United Nations University—made possible through a prestigious and competitive Fulbright grant.

Specifically, Bruni will be focusing on man-made and naturally occurring risks and disasters and looking at how we can predict, manage, and mitigate their impacts through policy.

Katherine Bruni
Katherine Bruni

“Essentially, I am studying how to help countries become even more resilient and adaptable by increasing the efficiency, equity, and effectiveness of their responses to crises while also managing the adverse socio-economic impacts these disasters can have.”

Associate Prof. Elizabeth Wheat, who has been working with Bruni since her first-year seminar on focusing on environmental justice, describes Bruni as “a truly extraordinary student who has overcome tremendous personal challenges in her life and worked incredibly hard as a Phoenix.”

Bruni says she “squeezed every bit of knowledge and opportunity” that she could during her time at the University.

While she started as an intended education major, that first-year seminar with Prof. Wheat provided a new interest — environmental justice. “The course and the topics covered in it really just lit a fire in me that has continued to grow ever since.”

She quickly switched majors to Environmental Policy and Planning and added Public Administration to her academic profile. But it was a term paper written for Natural Resource Law with Prof. Wheat that provided the confidence to excel in this academic area.

“I wrote my term paper on the natural resource management of Biscayne National Park which is a marine park off the coast of Florida. When I got the paper back at the end of the semester, there was a note from my professor saying that she really enjoyed the paper and she thought that I should submit it to the Midwest Political Science Association’s annual conference and she said she would provide the help to do so. It turned out to be one of the largest political science conferences in the United States.”

While her paper was accepted, it also developed into a comparative policy analysis where she analyzed natural resource management strategies utilized in Biscayne National Park as well as the Galápagos Marine Reserve; a concept that developed through a study abroad trip to Ecuador with Prof. Marcelo Cruz.

Among her long list of accomplishments, a policy analysis for a course with Prof. Helpap on clean water access in Kewaunee County, eventually led to her being invited to speak on the floor of the Wisconsin State Assembly. In her “spare time” she ran the Public and Environmental Affairs Council, served on the University’s sustainability committee, was a Resident Assistant for a year, and served as an economic teaching assistant.

The Fulbright grant, she says, is validating. “Being a Fulbright grant recipient is affirmative reinforcement that I am on the right path and can make a positive impact on this world. It is validating. Particularly because with the competitiveness of the graduate school I applied to as well as the grant itself, having passed all of those checkpoints reenforces the idea that I do have what it takes, and these institutions see that in me. Even if I have not realized my full potential yet—they are willing to help me along in that process.

“This grant allows me to pursue my passions without the restrictions and financial burdens that normally accompany a graduate degree program. Also, by not having to work for a living outside of attending graduate school full-time, I will have the opportunity to pursue internships that will enhance my education in the field, as well as volunteer opportunities where I can engage with the community outside of academia.”

“My experience at UWGB provided not only the competence to pursue a graduate degree but the confidence as well—and that is the key piece of the puzzle. I am extremely grateful for my time at UWGB because of the relationships I formed with professors, administration, and fellow students because that is what really pushed me to be able to apply to graduate school in another country as well as apply for a Fulbright grant.”


Professor Weinschenk publishes new paper

Prof. Aaron Weinschenk (Political Science) recently had a peer-reviewed journal article accepted for publication. The paper is titled “Educational attainment has a causal effect on economic, but not social ideology: Evidence from discordant twins” and will be published in the journal Political Studies. The paper is co-authored with Stig Hebbelstrup Rye Rasmussen (Aarhaus University, Denmark), Asbjørn Sonne Nørgaard (Cevea, Denmark), Robert Klemmensen (Southern Denmark University), and Jacob von Bornemann Hjelmborg (Southern Denmark University).

Alumna Martha Baldwin transitions to Pillars Crisis Housing Director

Pillars welcomes Martha Baldwin ’99 (Accounting) as the new Crisis Housing director. She officially transitioned into this role on March 1 after previously working as finance director at Pillars since August 2019.

“I feel honored to be given the opportunity to expand upon the important work that Pillars does to serve those in our community who are experiencing homelessness,” said Baldwin. “Pillars is dedicated to its mission of providing shelter, support, and solutions to address the housing needs in our community. I feel as though my nearly 10 years in serving low-income families in multiple public-school districts, my education in public administration, and my passion for collaboration and connection will help further that mission alongside each of the dedicated members of our team.”

Baldwin graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay with a degree in accounting, received her Master’s Degree in public administration from the University of Colorado, and is a certified public accountant. During her time as finance director, Baldwin improved financial reporting processes at Pillars, rebuilt the budgeting process, implemented a new credit card system, and supported numerous other operations within the organization. As Crisis Housing director, Baldwin will lead the 44-member Crisis Housing team in strategic direction and daily operations, managing resources, and processes to drive the Pillars mission forward.

“Martha has consistently shown the leadership, skill, and passion to serve the Crisis Housing team in this role,” said Joe Mauthe, Pillars Executive Director. “She has a heart for the work we do at Pillars, and I am confident that she will continue to develop our client-focused culture while truly respecting the talent and strengths that each team member brings to this important work.”

Crisis Housing meets immediate needs for individuals and families experiencing homelessness with shelter and resources available at Pillars Adult Shelter, Pillars Adult & Family Shelter, and Pillars Resource Center.

New Leaf Foods celebrated AmeriCorps week March 7-13 with Maryssa Paulsen ’19

New Leaf Foods celebrated AmeriCorps week March 7-13 with Maryssa Paulsen ’19 (Environmental Policy and Planning, Public Administration). She has been serving as volunteer coordinator for New Leaf Foods since September of 2020 through the Volunteer Wisconsin AmeriCorps program. Paulsen has been a tremendous asset for the organization. Her skill and dedication are a credit to her and to her education at UW-Green Bay. “Her work has already increased our organizational capacity, and we are so proud of her! We want to share our appreciation with all of her fellow UWGB alumni and professors.”

Marina Delbecchi

Marina Delbecchi said she was never alone in her new virtual journey

Although UW-Green Bay is intending to be open in fall and welcoming faculty, staff and students back on campus, some classes originally scheduled for in-person instruction will be moving online or having online aspects to them for the safety of the UW-Green Bay community. Current UW-Green Bay students who transitioned to online learning in Spring 2020 demonstrate that they are resilient problem-solvers and describe their experiences while providing some advice to future students…

Marina Delbecchi is an organizational leadership major. Her minors are public administration, political science and global studies.

Marina Delbecchi

“Having classes that are all online or majority online can be tough, but my professors at UWGB never made me feel alone on this journey. It’s easy to forget that any annoyances we may have with online classes, our professors do too, so they are more than willing to go out of their way to help. Plus with options for Zoom meetings and hybrid courses meeting every other week, you still get the chance to form relationships with your professors (which is the best part of college!). The largest piece of advice I have related to online courses is to stay up-to-date with your UWGB email because it holds important information and will be your lifeline while not in the classroom!”

Alumnus Jake Immel wins Sheboygan County races

UW-Green Bay alumnus Jake Immel ’17 (Political Science and Public Administration) won his second term for Sheboygan Falls City Council and earned a seat on the Sheboygan County Board in the recent elections. He also works in customer service and nonprofit leadership. Immel was an RA, tour guide, teaching assistant and chair of the student resources committee for the Student Government Association. He was first elected to the city council at age 23, less than a year after graduating from UW-Green Bay.

Emily Zilliox

‘Potential is unlimited’ for Wisconsin Women in Government award winner, Zilliox

“Unlimited potential” is how chair of the UW-Green Bay’s Political Science program, Associate Prof. Aaron Weinschenk describes UW-Green Bay student Emily Zilliox, a fall 2019 recipient of the Wisconsin Women in Government Scholarship award.

Zilliox is a junior majoring in Political Science and Democracy and Justice Studies with an emphasis in Women’s and Gender Studies. She also has a minor in Public Administration. In fall 2019, she received a scholarship from the nonprofit organization Wisconsin Women in Government—not an easy feat. The scholarship is intended for women who plan to pursue careers in public service, public administration or governmental affairs. Those selected for the scholarship must demonstrate their leadership abilities and positive contributions to society. Zilliox said she is proud and honored to be acknowledged and awarded a scholarship.

Emily Zilliox“Going into the public sector can often feel like a thankless job, so getting recognition like this really serves to lift you up,” she said.

Zilliox is chair of the Health and Safety Committee for Student Government, vice president of Theta Eta Alpha and vice president of the Sexuality and Gender Alliance. She is also a student employee, working as a student lead at the David A. Cofrin Library. She is committed to continuous improvement, and this commitment is evident to her faculty advisors.

“If Emily tells you she is going to do something, she will do it,” states Weinschenk in his recommendation letter for her scholarship application. “Emily is exactly the type of student you want to have in your classes—she shares her ideas, works well with others, does what she says she’ll do and maintains a positive attitude.”

It’s her professors that have been influential to her success, Zilliox said. When asked what her favorite part of UW-Green Bay is, Zilliox’s response… “One hundred percent the professors. The faculty of all the areas I am involved in have helped and supported me since I was a freshman, and I really cannot even put into words all that they’ve done or how thankful I am.”

Not only is Zilliox, a LaCrosse, Wis. native, incredibly active on campus, but an internship with the Green Bay Mayor’s Office has expanded her responsibilities and her opportunities. Zilliox is also dedicated to helping the surrounding community through this internship — a position she gained with the help of Associate Prof. Katia Levintova (Global Studies and Political Science). Her main task is to work on figuring out the logistics for a new Public Safety building for the City of Green Bay.

“It has been a really fun experience, and it’s taught me a lot about how local government works,” she reflected.

Her fall 2019 semester wasn’t without some difficulty. After learning she earned the scholarship, she soon learned she would need an emergency surgery, which was a setback for her. Once again, it was her perseverance and the willingness of the faculty that helped her get back on her feet.

“I had a medical issue this semester, and all the professors have gone above and beyond to help me catch up and even checked in to make sure I was okay,” she explained, “which is something that really meant a lot to me.”

Through everything Zilliox has experienced, from both successes and challenges in her college career, she credits her father for motivating her and influencing her to continue working hard and having an impact on what she does. While political role models include Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Zilliox credits her father with being her greatest role model.

Emily Zilliox

“My mother passed away when I was four, and he really just became the ultimate parent and taught me so many life lessons, like personal responsibility, having a good work ethic and taking pride in the work you do while staying humble,” Zilliox said. “He really is the hardest working and strongest person I know, and even though we don’t agree on everything politically, I do try to make him proud in everything I do.”

When Zilliox graduates from UW-Green Bay, she hopes to continue to make her father proud by creating a lasting impact in Wisconsin.

“I would love to work as a legislative aide in a State Assembly person’s office in Madison,” she says. “My big dream is to become a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, but we will work our way towards that.”

Based on Zilliox’s accomplishments and passion to succeed, her future is certainly bright!

Story by Marketing and University Communication student assistant Emily Gerlikovski

Faculty note: Associate Prof. Warner facilitates non-profit discussion at Weidner Center

Prof. Warner facilitates

Associate Prof. Lora Warner (Public Administration) facilitated a discussion on the topic of Fund Development at the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation’s Nonprofit Initiative Summit, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019. The discussion, which had about 150 attendees, took place at the Weidner Center.

UW-Green Bay Public Administration degree and Nonprofit Management Certificate now offered online

Green Bay, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Public Administration program announces its Public Administration Major and Nonprofit Management Certificate are now achievable online as well as in-person. This endeavor will make the program more widely available for employed adults while allowing a new generation of college students to pursue their UW-Green Bay education online.

Associate Professor Lora Warner calls this new online expansion “advantageous,” stating students can take control of how they wish to complete their education with greater access to our strong undergraduate program. The online options for the Public Administration Major and Nonprofit Management Certificate are the same as obtaining the major or certificate in person on UW-Green Bay’s campus. Students also are welcome to take a blend of in-person and online courses in ways that best fit their schedules. Warner noted that online students, like those who physically attend classes, will engage in high-impact, hands-on curricula taught by exceptional faculty.

Individuals can obtain Certificates in Emergency Management or in Nonprofit Management (with 15-18 credit hours) by completing designated courses offered by the Public Administration major. These certificates may also be pursued online by non-degree-seeking students such as employed professionals who seek to advance their careers.

Recent UW-Green Bay Public Administration graduates have obtained careers as city administrators, fund-raising professionals, parks directors, budget analysts, program managers, human resources assistants, environmental planners, volunteer coordinators, emergency management directors, and claims analysts, among others. Many graduates pursue graduate degrees in public administration, public policy or political science.

Questions about the program can be directed to Associate Professor David Helpap at helpapd@uwgb.edu. More information about the Public Administration program can be found on its website, https://www.uwgb.edu/public-administration/.


Alumnus Brad Pfaff: ‘We need leaders that can build connections, move people forward’

Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection secretary designee and UW-Green Bay alumnus, Brad Pfaff ’90 (Public and Environmental Affairs) says college allowed him to expand his horizons beyond his rural community and work with people who were not farmers. “I needed to meet and work with people that didn’t know the difference between a cow and a steer,” Pfaff said in a story by Wisconsin State Farmer. “I needed to challenge myself in a different way. I didn’t know where to go or what to do. But I know I needed to go somewhere.

That “somewhere” was UW-Green Bay—205 miles away from the farm—where he studied business and public administration. As a freshman far from home, Pfaff said the new beginning pushed him out of his comfort zone and allowed him to learn how other people approached issues and led him to better understand what issues were important to him.

“I got to better understand and appreciate what agriculture and rural communities really meant to me. And I started to think about what I wanted to do with my life,” he said. “How I can better connect the dots between agriculture, rural communities, rural people and those that live in cities and suburbs and have no idea what agriculture is all about?”

In time Pfaff became a better listener and communicator and was able to put himself in others’ shoes. Read more via Pfaff: We need leaders that can build connections, move people forward.