Meet the Board

Taylor Jackson - President

TaylorJackson.jpgBoys & Girls Club of Dane County

What do you do in your spare time?: Spare time is rare, but I do like to spend a lot of it outdoors! I love taking hikes with my pitbull, Emma, and traveling all over the state and the country! I also love to read, and listen to a few of my favorite podcasts.

Who inspires you?: The students I have worked with who have been through so much but are still pushing through to earn their degrees and make their future their own.

Why are you in nonprofit work?: I am passionate about knowing that my work makes a difference and improves the lives of others. I also love how amazing the people I work with are, and that they care so much about the causes we are working towards.

Who is a hero of yours?: I am unashamed to be incredibly inspired by Leslie Knope (and, of course, Amy Poehler). Both are strong, passionate, and independent women who are dead-set on making a difference in the world!

Valerie Chesnik - Vice President

Valerie.jpgUW-Madison College of Engineering (Development)

Bio coming soon!

Valerie works with the UW-Madison College of Engineering as an Associate Director for Development. Valerie has experience in fundraising and served as the YNPN Communications Chair before transitioning into her role as Vice President. 

Eileen Newcomer - Treasurer


League of Women Voters of Wisconsin

What do you do in your spare time?: Like most Millennials, I’m a Netflix junkie. In my truly spare time, I like to relax and binge watch my new favorite show. My long list of things I like to do, but don’t do often enough is: reading, camping, going for bike rides, drawing, traveling, volunteering…really, where does the list end? Other than that I really enjoy spending time with my family, we just spend the whole time laughing.

What inspires you?: The amount of young talent in our sector. There are so many people starting their own nonprofits or in leadership roles at the organizations they passionately believe in. You all push me to be the best I can be.

Why are you in nonprofit work?: I’m in the nonprofit sector for most of the same reasons I think we all are. I want to make a difference in the world. It took me a long time to decide what I wanted to do. I just knew that I wanted to be doing something where I was helping people. The range of resources our sector provides gives us the opportunity to make a real impact on people’s lives. Not to be cliché but I’m dreaming of a better tomorrow, and want to know that I’m part of the effort to make that happen.

Who is a hero of yours?: Bettie Locke Hamilton, founder of Kappa Alpha Theta. Bettie along with a group of 3 friends started Kappa Alpha Theta in 1870 to give women a support group and to empower them to get an education at a time when women were not very welcome in the academic world. Today, what she started as a small support group has grown into an organization impacting the lives of thousands of women, creating the leaders of tomorrow.

What's something quirky about you?: I know the difference between wilderness and wild lands. I spent a summer giving historical tours at Great Camp Sagamore, a Vanderbilt Family Estate in the Adirondacks that is situated between wilderness and wild lands.  

Scott Coenen - Secretary

Wisconsin Conservative Energy Forum

What do you do in your spare time?

You can find me on a boat, kayak, paddle board somewhere in Wisconsin on a lake or river.

What inspires you?

I am consistently inspired by leaders that have the ability to know what they're talking about and communicate big ideas. I also value our country and communities and have a deep respect for anyone that makes it their mission to make things better, even in the smallest ways.

Why are you in nonprofit work?

I'm in nonprofit work because it offers a unique place to influence both public and private sectors. The nonprofit world offers you the ability to bring many different voices to a table on many issues.

Who is a hero of yours?

Right now I would say any decision maker that has the ability to see and communicate two sides of an issue and not see debate and dissent as threatening. Now, more than ever, we need leaders to focus on areas of agreement and common cause.

What's something quirky about you?

I've officiated five different weddings for various friends. If anyone needs a good marrying, let me know! 

Rebecca Makowski - Membership Chair


Habitat for Humanity ReStore

What do you do in your spare time? My spare time greatly depends on the season. In the winter you can almost always find me spending time with my cat and watching documentaries or bingeing my latest Netflix obsession.

When Wisconsin weather is above freezing I love exploring Madison and attending events around the city! I am always a sucker for spending the day at the Terrace.

No matter the season I am always finding new ways to provide effective self-care and sharing them with others!

What inspires you? I find inspiration through happiness. This can be seeing others living in joy and also finding joy in my life. I have always found that the more happiness that is produced in any situation always inspires me to create more and work harder.

Why are you in nonprofit work? I am in non-profit work because I have always had the goal in life to continually help others and provide a positive impact in the people’s lives. Non-profit work flowed perfectly with my life ambitions. A lot of this was driven by my collage experience. As a legal studies major I had learned about a lot of the injustices that many individuals faced and decided that I wanted to be able to fight those injustices.

Who is a hero of yours?: Pope Francis is a hero of mine. I find inspiration from him because he takes his faith and puts it into action though serving others and pushing for love throughout different communities and denominations. I also appreciate his humility he brings to position that he holds such great power in.

What's something quirky about you? I am absolutely terrified of butterflies. 

Halley Pucker - Fundraising Chair

Wisconsin Historical Foundation

What do you do in your spare time?

I spend my spare time hiking with my two dogs, Poppy and Freyja, baking, reading nonfiction, travelling, and following the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cubs, and Ottawa Senators.

What inspires you?

I'm inspired by the natural world and all of its beauty.

Why are you in nonprofit work?

I'm a passionate person, and I believe that nonprofit work is the best way to share my passions. It feels like cheerleading for the underdog, which I love to do.

Who is a hero of yours?

Major Richard "Dick" Winters

What's something quirky about you?

I own more coffee mugs than any sane person should.

Tony Abate - Organizational Development Chair


Groundswell Conservancy

What do you do in your spare time? I love to cook and hate to clean. I love to travel and hate to pack. I love the outdoors and hate leaving. I spend my spare time overcoming these obstacles.

What inspires you? You mean other than sweeping landscape vistas? People with deep passions willing to teach and share.

Why are you in nonprofit work? A generous work/life balance and a desire for purpose in that “work.”

Who is a hero of yours?

In the words of the late Fred Rogers:

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” (edited)

Katie Gaynor - National Liaison 

Filene Research Institute

What do you do in your spare time? 

Aside from spending time with my friends and partner, I am an avid reader, play co-ed flag football, hike in WI’s beautiful parks, proudly (and loudly) cheer on the Pittsburgh Steelers, love to learn new card games, monitor my dog’s social media presence and of course, volunteer whenever and wherever I can.

What inspires you? 
This is cheesy but it is true - people. I am constantly inspired and motivated by the people around me. I have been lucky enough to work with hundreds of volunteers in my career so far, and being able to support and see ordinary people do extraordinary things for their community is one of the greatest honors I have had.

Why are you in nonprofit work?
Giving back to the community was a very central part of my family while I was growing up. Whether it was my brothers and I playing Christmas carols at nursing homes or getting involved in organizations like Key Club in High School. It felt only natural that I would channel that family value into my career.

What's something quirky about you?
I intentionally do something new and outside my comfort zone every year which has led me to trying out for roller derby, walking in a fashion show, travelling to a foreign country for the first time, learning a new instrument, and finally deciding to adopt my precious puppy.

Heather Ferguson - Board Member at Large

UW-Madison Registrar's Office

What do you do in your spare time?

I’m a bit of a dreamer, so I spend a lot of time reading or listening to podcasts about innovations, leadership models, or positive psychology. I also regularly attend Zumba classes, go biking, and spend as much time at festivals and local foodie destinations as possible.

What inspires you?

Tons of things; I actually keep a running list in one of my many notebooks. But two things keep me consistently inspired: learning and working with teams of passionate people. So I guess it makes sense that I’ve found a career in higher education.

Why are you in nonprofit work?

I seek meaning in my work—whether that is mentoring staff, helping my team tell its story, or working toward a common goal. I want to be part of a team that is strategically striving to improve and that values people over profit. I believe students and staff (including myself) are always growing, and I want to see them be successful; therefore, I enjoy finding ways to help them better articulate their stories, expand their skills, and utilize their strengths. I also work hard to offer my students and staff members support and to help remove barriers that may stand in the way of their success.

Who is a hero of yours?

Can I pick two? Emilie Wapnick, who first coined the term “multipotentialite,” and Susan Cain, who brought visibility to and understanding about introverts in her best-selling book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Both of these women are shattering misconceptions about the “one true” model for leadership and career development. They are helping make the professional world more inclusive by widening the characteristics of success. I find their contributions to be incredibly empowering.

What's something quirky about you?

Sometimes, I assemble outfits for the week as a way to relax. I see styling clothes as a creative outlet; it is fun to see how different silhouettes, pieces of jewelry, and colors come together in unique ways. In a society where we are often taught to judge our bodies, we can flip the script by experimenting and using clothes as a tool to express ourselves.

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