The Order Sons of Italy in America, Grand Lodge of Illinois & Wisconsin, headed north for its 17th annual Leonardo da Vinci Awards of Excellence Gala, hosting the event on May 6 at the Roma Lodge in Racine.
The event featured a buffet luncheon at noon and an awards ceremony.
Profiles of the honorees follow:
Representative Peter Barca is a lifelong citizen of Kenosha and Somers. He currently serves as State Representative from the 64th Assembly District, which includes much of the City of Kenosha and portions of the City of Racine, Town of Somers, Village of Mount Pleasant, and Village of Elmwood Park.
Representative Barca returned to the state legislature in 2009, representing the district he had previously held from 1985 until 1993. When Congressman Les Aspin was appointed Secretary of Defense in 1993, Representative Barca won the open congressional seat in a special election and served in the U.S. House of Representatives.
After serving in Congress, Representative Barca served for four years as the Midwest Regional Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration during the Clinton Administration. He led the National Regulatory Fairness Program, an initiative which included more than 50 company presidents throughout the country aimed at making regulatory enforcement small business friendly. Representative Barca also served as CEO of Northpointe Resources, a non-profit organization focused on employment, training, and rehabilitation, and spent nearly a decade as Vice President and then President of Aurora Associates International, and international project management company that conducted long-term development projects in more than 25 countries.
Since rejoining the Legislature, Representative Barca has made creating good-paying jobs for Wisconsin families, assisting small businesses, and improving access to workforce training his top priorities. As a former member of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) board, he helped advance several major business developments, including the two Amazon.com distribution centers in Kenosha. He has authored and pursued bipartisan legislation enabling businesses to expand operations and create thousands of jobs in Southeast Wisconsin. As the former Assembly Minority Leader, Representative Barca led the efforts of his caucus to put forward legislation designed to create jobs, connect workers with available jobs, increase wages, and strengthen Wisconsin’s middle class.
Representative Barca received his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, received his master’s in public administration and education administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and attended graduate school at Harvard University.
Born in Madison, Wis., in April 1937, to Joseph A. and Anne Stassi Bruno, Anthony Bruno attended Catholic grade and high school. He received a B.A. in industrial arts and physical education in 1959 from U.W. Platteville, and was awarded a Wisconsin Life Teaching License after one year of teaching handicapped children at Southern Wisconsin Colony and Training School. He earned an M.S. degree in curriculum and instruction in 1966 from UW-Madison.
Bruno retired from the Wisconsin Department of Health & Social Services in 1995 after 30 years of service, the last 13 years as treatment director at Central Wisconsin Center for the Developmentally Disabled.
Under the sponsorship of his father, Bruno joined the Italian Workmen’s Club of Madison in 1983. He served on the IWC Council in 1984, ’91, ’92, ’93, ’05, ’09, ’11, ’12 NS ’13; as Vice President in 1986, ’87, ’89, ’97, and ’03; and as President in 1999/2000. He wrote the original mission statement for the club, established the scoring system for awarding the IWC scholarships, re-established the club’s annual Festa Italia after a one-year hiatus and re-vitalized the annual charity golf outing when interest was fading.
Along with Frank Alfano, Bruno established a Sister City relationship with Mantova in Tuscany, Italy, and created the Greenbush Heritage Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports the Sister City program. Bruno, Alfano and others went on to effect cultural, sports, musical and water quality exchanges with Mantova.
Along with Alfano and Al Rolandi, Bruno helped to establish WisItalia — which includes the Italian-American clubs in Madison, Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha and Green Bay — whose mission is to encourage and support the teaching of the Italian language in the schools in the state.
Along with Alfano and President Dave Rizzo, Bruno working with the University of Wisconsin Italian Department to establish an Italian Center to serve as a resource for Italian language students, as well as for teachers and students in Wisconsin elementary and secondary schools that have Italian language classes.
Bruno is proud to have helped the IWC become a recognized, dynamic organization in Madison, as well as in other Wisconsin cities, and looks forward to continuing those efforts.
Luigi Caira was born of immigrant parents, Franceso and Concetta (Passarelli) Caira, of Marano, Principato, Cosenza, Italy. His father moved to America in 1958, leaving behind his wife and children in Italy until enough money was saved for his family to join him in the states. Four years later, Francesco’s wife and children took all they had, leaving their family and friends behind in Italy to begin their new life as Italian Americans.
Caira was born shortly after in December of 1967. He knew little of his father, who had passed away when his young son was 3 years old. Caira’s mother began working full time at Leblanc in Kenosha, raising four children on her own, with a few relatives nearby. A work ethic was developed quickly for all of them to pull together and make ends meet. Caira never slowed down and to this day is a strong, kind and successful man.
After earning his Catholic grad and middle school education at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, he began shinning as a star student in Kenosha. Receiving all honors throughout high school was among his many accomplishments while growing up in a single-family home. He became the athlete everyone looked up to, earning medals on the Kenosha Bradford High School baseball and football teams. He also served on his homecoming and prom courts, representing his class.
He continued his successes, starting college at Parkside still living at home helping his mother every chance he could. With little jobs during high school, saving every cent as a family, he then started working at A&T Polishing to earn money for a college education.
While working full time and part time, Caira completed his three years at Parkside and four more years at Marquette graduating in Dental School. A little quicker than most thanks to the drive and desire he inherited from his father.
He immediately became an entrepreneur, learning the business of owning income properties as well as opening his own dental practice. He earned honors and awards as a successful dentist within the Kenosha community while serving many Italians of all generations.
He married Lora Debartolo on Sept. 11. With three full-blooded Italian children of their own, they have kept their Italian family traditions alive in many ways, often making pizza, sausage and pasta together. This family makes an impact on their entire community. Caira has coached baseball, soccer, hockey and so much more, often with his family’s involvement and always with tremendous success.
A great candidate to represent his heritage and community, he is warm-hearted and always puts his family first. A man you can count on, his success is worthy of emulation and he is a mentor and friend to all that know him.
John DiMotto is a Circuit Court Judge for Milwaukee County. He currently serves in the Civil Division. He was first elected to the Circuit Court in 1990. Since his first election, DiMotto has served in every Circuit Court Division. Prior to his election, he was an assistant district attorney in the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office for over 15 years where he was the Director of the Sensitive Crimes Unit. DiMotto received his J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1974 and received a B.A. from Marquette University in 1972. He is a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Bar Association, American Bar Association, Wisconsin and Milwaukee County Trial Judges Associations, Association for Women Lawyers, National Italian-American Bar Association and Wisconsin Chapter of the Justinian Society.
DiMotto is a former member and Chairperson of the Criminal Jury Instructions Committee, a former member of the Judicial Education Committee, a former associate dean of the Wisconsin Judicial College and is a frequent presenter at judicial education conferences. In May,1998, he and Judge Jean DiMotto taught American Criminal Law, Process and Procedure to Chinese judges at a Chinese Judges College Seminar in Beijing, China. The Wisconsin Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates named DiMotto 1998 Wisconsin Trial Judge of the Year. The Wisconsin Chapter of the Justinian Society of Lawyers named him 2005 Jurist of the Year. In 2014, the Wisconsin Law Journal selected him one of its Leaders in the Law. In 2018, the Wisconsin Law Journal presented DiMotto with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
Joseph Emanuele has served the Milwaukee community throughout the 61 years he has been a resident of the city he calls home. That service includes being a police officer for Milwaukee Police Department from 1992 to 2017, when he chose to retire to spend more time with family. He is a devoted father of five — Jamie, Danny, Michael, Santino and Jessica — as well as a grandfather to three beautiful children.
During his tenure with the Milwaukee Police Department, Emanuele was promoted numerous times, allowing him to make optimal uses of his expertise and skills. He was promoted from police officer to Forensic Investigator in 2002 and to Identification Systems Specialist in 2006. Recognizing the scope of his abilities, Department Administrators requested that Emanuele travel throughout the United States to work with police departments nationwide. In this role, he worked in an advisory position, reviewing and testing the departments’ records management practices and identification software.
Furthering his focus on being of service to his community, Emanuele is active in the Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America (OSIA), as well as in the Italian Community Center (ICC) located in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward. His contributions to each organization led to his being elected President of OSIA in 2013. He served two consecutive terms, completed in 2017. Presently he serves as Vice President of the ICC, a position he has held since 2016. He is slated to be elected President of that organization in 2018.
Each summer, Emanuele can be found volunteering both in a leadership role as well as hands-on at the annual Festa Italiana. He currently chairs the bylaws committee for the ICC and has served on the entertainment committee for the organization for the past two years.
Emanuele’s reputation professionally and community work is one of excellence, earned through his impeccable record of service. In addition to dedication to his profession and the organizations that have benefited from his leadership, he is a devoted family man. In 2001, Emanuele published a book recording the history of the Emanuele family in America, titled “Our First 100 Years.”
He is spending his first year of retirement enjoying the additional time he is now able to spend with his children and grandchildren. He is an avid golfer, organizing an annual golf outing as well as playing 18 with his three sons. He enjoys playing guitar and traveling to northern Wisconsin to visit extended family.
It wasn’t until the 6th grade that Joseph Mangiamele realized that he had the ability to shape who he would become, and that he would do that through the way he educated myself. Later, his beloved philosophy professor convinced him that he wouldn’t be able to make living at philosophy, so he looked at other fields. Economics seemed interesting, and later he would conclude that it is a kind of philosophy. Upon receiving his degree, he found there was not much call in the business world for those with only a bachelor’s degrees, so he returned to school and worked on a master’s.
He developed an interest in the design of cities and city economics, and with a master’s degree got a job as a city planner in his own hometown. He knew then that that was what he was to be, a city planner, especially from the point of view of urban design.
He received a scholarship from Cornell University in New York to do Ph.D. work and while there was offered a Fulbright scholarship to finish his Ph.D. work at London School of Economics and Political Science. During this time, he became a town planning architect for London County where we planned new towns.
With a Ph.D. in city planning from London University, he became the first university and campus planner at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1962.
He also taught at UWM in the School of Architecture, a school that he helped bring to UWM through his involvement as a university planner. He headed the committee to choose the first dean and became the first instructor in the school, where he taught for 37 years. H also was a consultant in the planning of many surrounding communities.
His urban design interests have led him into designing urban scale steel sculptures. The Italian community has recently accepted one of them as a donation and will be erecting it this spring.
CJ James Martello was selected nine years ago to become a correspondent for Chicagoland’s Italian American news magazine, Fra Noi. Martello’s assignment: Take the helm of the Petals from Roseland column.
Chicago’s South Side community of Roseland, along with Kensington and Pullman, were the neighborhoods that formed Martello’s foundation. In 1970, after returning from U.S. Army service that took him to Vietnam, he moved from Roseland to Chicago’s North Side. In 2008, he didn’t hesitate in accepting the challenge of ensuring and continuing the recognition due the Italian heritage of Chicago’s Far South Side.
Martello returned to his roots by attending Roseland’s St. Anthony of Padua Parish, and reacquainted himself with many of the Italian-American parishioners who were part of his youth and interviewed them. On Sundays, following the 8:30 a.m. Mass where Martello does the second reading in Italian, he provides his home-baked treats for the coffee group and joins in discussions in search of more material.
Numerous Italian-American organizations are laced throughout the south suburbs and Martello joined these groups or was invited to speak to them. These groups included the Veneti nel Mondo, the Piemontese Society, the Roselandite group Spaghetti-O’s, the OSIA Leone d’Oro Lodge, the Roseland Roundtable, the Pullman Civic Organization and many senior clubs.
By attending these meetings and interviewing numerous Italian Americans, Martello has served his Italian heritage well by building a readership network that reaches out to him in recalling their Italian roots. In addition, Martello has helped younger generations of Italian Americans to savor the honor and pride in their roots and to learn of the lives of their forebears.
Martello has taken his mission so seriously that he not only purchased a home in Pullman, now known as the Pullman National Monument of the National Park Service, but he also wrote, directs and stars in his one man show “George Pullman: The man and his model town,” which he performs for community groups and organizations.
As a tour guide in the Pullman National Monument, Martello never fails to mention the many Italian immigrants who became part of the fabric of the Pullman community in the early 20th century. Many of today’s Italian American Pullman residents can trace their roots to those immigrants.
Martello is the proud father of U.S. Navy Commander James L. Martello, who with his wife, Heather, will be residing in Naples, Italy for three years, and his daughter Jamie Reinhardt, M.Ed., who with her husband Eric, daughter Fiona and son Ethan, reside in Chicago’s Edison Park neighborhood.
Martello continues to connect with all things Italian in his work, his play and his writings. At present, he is working on “The Best of Petals from Roseland” and a book dealing with the internment of Italian Americans during World War II. His column of nostalgia, information, and current topics is a breath of nostalgia and news for his local, national, and international readership continuing the legacy of our Italian American heritage.
Over his 10 decades of life, Russell Missureli has been a husband, father, catechist, businessman, teacher and, since 1981, a deacon in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. In that role he performs baptisms, officiates at funerals, witnesses marriages and brings the Eucharist to the ailing and homebound.
Missureli is part of the pastoral team at St. Edward Catholic Church. He also works in pastoral care at Wheaton-Franciscan Healthcare-All Saints, formerly known as St. Mary’s Hospital. He began that work in 1979. He has also served at St. Patrick, St. Richard and St. Rose parishes in Racine.
Missureli was born in Racine on Nov. 13, 1920, to John and Jennie Missureli. His parents both immigrated to America from Italy in the early part of the 20th century. Missureli attended Sacred Heart School, St. Catherine’s High School and St. Francis Seminary. He served as a tech sergeant in the quartermaster school of the U.S. Army at Fort Lee, Va.
On Nov. 29, 1941, he married Helen A. Matagrano to start a happy 67-year marriage. Helen died on July 1, 2008. Missureli started his career working for Louis Matagrano & Sons, a distributor of beer, wine and soda. He later purchased the company with an associate and founded Marquette Distributing Co. Inc. The company was sold in the mid-1970s and consolidated with two other distributors to form a new company in Kenosha.
Missureli taught First Holy Communion Classes at St. Patrick Catholic Church for 18 years. He was president of the St. Patrick Athletic Club. He was awarded the Pope Pius X Medallion by Milwaukee Archbishop William E. Cousins at Cardinal Stritch College.
After four years of study, he was ordained a deacon in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee on June 13, 1981. For over 30 years he has performed Communion services at Lincoln Lutheran, Lakeshore Manor and St. Mary’s Hospital. He still makes weekly visits to distribute the Holy Eucharist.
He has been active in the community for many years. He has been a member of Roma Lodge for 76 years and served 13 terms as president. In the 1970s he served on the City of Racine Board of Ethics. He joined Council 697 of the Knights of Columbus in February 1970. He is a Fourth Degree Sir Knight in Msgr. Anthony G. Weiler Assembly 1207 of the Knights of Columbus. Missureli also served 9 years on the board of St. Monica’s and 2 years as president.
He and his wife had one son, Russ Jr., who passed away in 2013.
Dr. Kathryn Occhipinti is a proud third-generation Italian American who has lived in the Chicago area for the last 20 years. She grew up in the New York City area, and her fondest childhood memories are of visiting her Italian grandparents in their home in Brooklyn, on Avenue T, in what was then a neighborhood of Italian immigrants. Occhipinti’s maternal grandparents, Pietro and Maria, were originally from the Palermo region in Sicily, and her paternal grandparents, Carmelo and Giovanna were from Ragusa, Sicily. Both sets of grandparents immigrated during the 1920s and became American citizens. Occhipintii’s parents, Rose and Salvatore, were born and raised in New York.
As a child, Occhipinti loved hearing Italian spoken in the streets of Brooklyn when she walked with her grandfather to the Italian general store. Her grandfather would buy the Italian newspaper and a special Italian ice cream treat for her. Her grandfather also taught her how to raise tomatoes and care for fig trees from the small plot of land behind their brick apartment house. Of course, Occhipinti’s grandmother would prepare the traditional Sunday for the extended family, who would gather around the table and speak in English mixed with Italian phrases that always seemed to make the point so much better than English ever could.
The mystery the Italian language held for Occhipinti as a child during those special times in Brooklyn would stay with her, and play an important role later in her life decision to dedicate herself to learning proper Italian and to helping other Italian Americans learn Italian as well. Her Italian language book series, “Conversational Italian for Travelers,” was written for the Italian-American audience like herself — Adults who want to return to Italy or simply reconnect with their roots. The books focus on teaching Italian through the story of the Italian-American character Caterina, who returns to Italy to visit her Italian family. Occhipinti provides much free material to learn Italian through her website, www.LearnTravelItalian.com, including free audio dialogues recorded by native Italians. She taught informal classes out of her home for the Italian-American Society of Peoria while she was writing these books, and was president of the society in 2015.
Occhipinti is also the author of two blogs. “Conversational Italian!” teaches simple Italian and “Learn Italian!” contains advanced Italian that Occhipinti is currently learning, along with cultural notes and Italian recipes. Many of the recipes in her blog are a tribute to those she learned at home. On Facebook, Occhipinti is the administrator of the Conversational Italian! group, where she provides tips for learning Italian. On Occhipinti’s Twitter site, Stella Lucente Italian tweets an Italian phrase “almost every day.”
Occhipinti’s father, Salvatore, was the youngest of five siblings, and the only one to attend college. He received a master’s degree in economics from Adelphi University in New York. Her mother learned shorthand and typing in high school, and was a secretary and homemaker. Her parents were married 63 years, until Salvatore’s passing on March 4, 2015.
Occhipinti graduated first in her class from H. F. Carey High School in Franklin Square, New York and went on to the Six-Year Medical Program at Boston University. This special program took only 40 students per year at the time, and provided acceptance into both Boston University and Boston University Medical School for its 18-year-old students based on academic excellence and a series of interviews.
Medical training was rigorous, and after medical school graduation, Occhipinti took up internship and residency in New York City, and trained to become a radiologist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. She completed a fellowship year in San Francisco, at a renowned MRI center for MRI training at Moffit Hospital. She found her first job as a radiologist in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, married and had her first child, Corrine Callaway. Soon after, she moved to Peoria, Illinois, where she divorced and raised Corrine, a student of the Peoria Ballet School, and her second son, Jared Callaway. Corrine will graduate from the University of Indiana, Bloomington as a business major.
Occhipinti now lives with her second son, Jared, in Hinsdale. Ill., and is employed by Suburban Radiologists, S.C. After moving to her new home in the Chicago area, Occhipinti joined the Sons of Italy, Leone d’Oro Lodgen #2700.
She continues to give talks and lessons to help others learn Italian as she did – from her life and through her two books.
John Salza has been a practicing tax attorney for the last 24 years, and currently serves as the tax Managing Partner for RSM’s Milwaukee Tax Practice. RSM is the nation’s leading provider of audit, tax and consulting services focused on the middle market, with 90 offices in the U.S. and 800 offices worldwide in 120 countries. Salza has been a tax and valued business advisor to many companies in the manufacturing, retail, distribution, technology and services industries during his career. Salza is also an internationally acclaimed author and speaker, and is fluent in the Italian language.
Raised in Milwaukee, Salza began studying the Italian language at the age of 14 at Dominican High School, where he was also a varsity basketball and all-conference football player. He graduated magna cum laude from UW-Milwaukee in 1991 where he majored in Italian and maintained an A average. His Italian professors made him take advanced writing courses and do extracurricular work, and he received the UNICO scholarship for his achievements in Italian. He was also a Phi Beta Kappa scholar and worked as an Italian translator during college. Also during college, and before the internet, Salza engaged in an extensive genealogical study of his Italian ancestry, tracing his relatives back to Puglia Italy, going back as far as the year 1715. He also (by snail mail) contacted relatives in Italy, and discovered he has an uncle, aunt and three cousins in Rome. He has visited his family in Italy many times and continues to enjoy their relationship after first meeting them almost 30 years ago.
Salza graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School cum laude in 1994, completing his studies in 2-1/2 years. He was founder and student president of the National Italian-American Bar association chapter for the UW-Law School. He also audited courses in Italian during law school and often gave free Italian lessons to students. Salza has also served as Treasurer and Board member for the National Italian-American Golf Invitational for Charities, an organization devoted to raising scholarship monies for high school students of Italian descent.
In addition to being a successful attorney, valued business advisor and Italian linguist, Salza is a highly-esteemed Catholic apologist. He has written 12 best-selling books on the topics of Catholic doctrine, Scripture and history, which have received international acclaim. These titles include “The Biblical Basis for the Catholic Faith,” “The Biblical Basis for the Papacy,” “ The Biblical Basis for the Eucharist,” “The Biblical Basis for Tradition,” “The Biblical Basis for Purgatory,” “The Mystery of Predestination,” “True or False Pope? – A Refutation of Sedevacantism and Other Modern Errors.” He has also written two books on Freemasonry called “Masonry Unmasked,” “Why Catholics Cannot Be Masons” and has been featured on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), Church Militant TV and the Discovery Channel to discuss his expertise on Freemasonry and secret societies. He is a frequent lecturer at Catholic conferences throughout the world and his many conference videos can be seen online.
Salza is also a world-class expert on the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima of 1917, and has authored two books on Fatima: “The Consecration of Russia” and his latest, “A Catechism on Fatima and the Related Crisis in the Church,” for which Cardinal Raymond Burke gave Salza a written commendation. Salza is a chief contributor to Fatima TV, a 24-hour Catholic television station located in Rome and broadcast throughout Italy, for which he produced and hosts the daily apologetics series Apologetica in Breve, as well as programming and interviews about Fatima, Vatican II and other Catholic topics, all in the Italian language. Salza has also given lengthy interviews in Italian about Fatima for various media outlets in Rome and has interviewed Andrea Tornielli, Paolo Rodari, and other respected Italian Vatican journalists in connection with the Third Secret of Fatima.
Salza has been a regular radio personality on stations throughout America. He has been a featured guest on “Catholic Answers Live,” “Kresta in the Afternoon,” “The Voice of Catholic Tradition,” “Sacred Heart Radio,” “Spirit Catholic Radio,” “Relevant Radio’s “The Drew Mariani Show,” “The Morning Air” and “Searching the Word,” where he has featured many series on biblical apologetics and also served as program host. Salza also produced a daily apologetics program on Relevant Radio called “Relevant Answers” and EWTN Radio called “Catholic Q&A.” Salza is also the creator of the website scripturecatholic.com, which he launched in 2001, and it has been one of the most popular Catholic apologetics sites on the Internet. The website is a veritable library of over 2,000 Scripture quotations and related exegesis, and over 800 quotes from the early Church Fathers that explain and defend the Catholic Faith. He is also a senior columnist for The Remnant newspaper, Catholic Family News and the Fatima Crusader and has written over 100 articles for these and other outlets. He serves as President of Apologetics for the Catholic Lawyers Association of America. In 2015, Salza received the Peace Educator Excellence Award from the Teach Peace Foundation.
Salza’s apologetics work, including his books, articles and videos, can be accessed at www.johnsalza.com.
First Lady Tonette Walker was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wis., by parents Geraldine and Anthony Tarantino. Know to family and friends as “Tony,” her father was proud of his Sicilian heritage. Her father Sebastiano Tarantino’s family was from Palermo while his mother Nunsiata D’Amico’s family was from Messina. The First Lady’s husband, Governor Scott Walker, has been known to refer affectionately to her Italian heritage, claiming it not by blood, but by marriage and by diet. Walker spent more than 20 years employed in the insurance industry before working for the American Diabetes Association. Currently, she works in the development department for the American Lung Association in Wisconsin.
As First Lady, Walker most enjoys using her role to help improve the lives of the people of Wisconsin. She is currently working in partnership with various foundations and nonprofit organizations to better recognize, understand, and address the effects of trauma on the lives of children and families in Wisconsin through her Fostering Futures Initiative. Through this partnership, she hopes to establish the state of Wisconsin as a national leader in the Trauma-Informed Care movement.
Walker also works regularly with Teen Challenge of Wisconsin, a faith-based organization dedicated to the healing and rehabilitation of those with substance abuse addictions. The First Lady works to raise awareness for the group throughout the state and also assists Teen Challenge in their fundraising and expansion efforts.
In an effort to promote health and fitness and to showcase some of the beautiful but lesser-known sites across the state, Walker invites the people of Wisconsin to participate in “Walk with Walker.” At each walk, the First Lady is joined by local residents, visitors, friends, and family to walk a short trail and explore Wisconsin’s most picturesque scenery. Additionally, Walker hosts women from all over the state for an annual Wellness Weekend to promote healthy lifestyles.
Wisconsin is home to some of the friendliest and most giving people in the nation. To recognize the generosity of many Wisconsin residents, the First Lady presents a Wisconsin Heroes Award. The award is conferred upon a Wisconsin resident who voluntarily devotes his or her time and energy to a nonprofit organization or cause. The First Lady understands the value of this devoted volunteerism and honors these “heroes” who ultimately make Wisconsin a better place.
The First Lady and Governor live full-time in Madison at the Wisconsin Executive Residence. Oldest son Matt graduated from Marquette University and is currently working for Associated Bank in Milwaukee. Younger son Alex graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is working in politics.