Individual Award Winners






2006 Individual Award Winners

(Joint winners) Karla Cornell-Wevley and Connie Blackman

Long before the media began publicizing credit card debt through newspapers, financial gurus and TV news, Karla Cornell-Wevley and Connie Black worked together at River Bluff Middle School in Stoughton to create realistic financial curriculums for their students. They taught them about saving, credit cards, checkbook management and living within one’s means. They partnered with representatives from the local Home Savings and they measured progress with tests, quizzes and through graded assignments. Because of their sustained, pioneering classroom work, it is a pleasure to present them with the Governor’s Financial Literacy Award.

Ricardo Diaz

Ricardo Diaz, Executive Director of the United Community Center won the Governor’s Financial Literacy Award for his work as Executive Director of the United Community Center in Milwaukee. He could not be with us today.

Jim Guenther

Under the leadership of president Jim Guenther, EconomicsWisconsin promotes the importance of financial literacy in Wisconsin. One of its most successful programs is the Stock Market Simulation Game that is open to all Wisconsin high schools. Jim Guenther has helped build this program to the point where more than 30,000 Wisconsin high school students participate in this competition every year, the third largest participation of any state in the country. Jim and his organization also arrange for a trip to New York and the Stock Exchange for each winning team.

Lori Koenig

Lori Koenig also is involved with classroom work but all her students are grownups. Lorrie recently created a class in financial literacy to be taught to adult offenders within the Stanley Correctional Institution in Stanley, WI. It has been documented that this new course helps inmates increase their level of financial literacy at the same time that they are about to be released back into their communities. Many are minority and low-income individuals. This class gives these individuals an edge in becoming productive, contributing members of society.

Jodi Owens

Jodi Owens won her award for her many accomplishments while working at the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. She helped create the Money Conference that will run in six Wisconsin communities this year and also an employee financial literacy DVD for state employees. Jodi and her family recently left Wisconsin for Ohio where her husband has taken a job with Wright State University.

Dr. Mark Schug

Dr. Mark Schug of UW-Milwaukee could not be with us today because of a speaking engagement in Florida. He is a giant in promoting financial literacy in Wisconsin. He has been involved with the National Institute, Youth Enterprise Academies and many other programs. Congratulations to Dr. Schug.

Dr. Thomas Scullen

It is not an accident that the Appleton Area School District is widely recognized as the state’s leading district when it comes to promoting financial literacy. The guiding hand of its Superintendent Dr. Thomas Scullen is the main reason. His ability to innovate, partner and move things along to promote financial literacy in a large school district setting is the envy of every community. Each Appleton High School boasts a credit union branch within its walls—run and patronized by students! Each student must complete a curriculum called Personal Financial Management to graduate.

Deloris Sims


Sharon Waukau

Sharon Waukau has done pioneering work on several fronts to promote financial literacy in her community. She helped bring the first-ever Money Conference to her community just this past Saturday. Recently Ms Waukau helped create a financial literacy poster contest that involved students from Menominee Indian High School. She also has worked to create community-wide awareness of predatory lending and she has implemented the Building Native Communities-Financial Literacy program within Menominee Tribal Departments and other agencies including the Forest County Potawatomi tribe, Onieda Nation, and Lac Du Flambeau tribe.

William Wilcox, President, CBM Credit Education Foundation, Inc., Madison, WI

Bill Wilcox of the CBM Credit Education Foundation came from the business world to the nonprofit world to promote financial literacy and he has been a tireless advocate. He is Vice Chair of the Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy. He has championed the National Institute teacher-training program from its infancy to national prominence. He took the lead in funding the Task Force on Model Academic Standards in Personal Finance. He is vice-chair of Wisconsin Jumpstart. Thanks to Bill Wilcox financial literacy in Wisconsin has come a long way.


2007 Individual Award Winners

Joint Presentation—Ken King, Lisa Arneson and Deb Trcka

It is well known that Sheboygan County was the shining star of Wisconsin's first Money Smart Week Wisconsin campaign last fall. The community set the gold standard for what one community could accomplish. Their successful campaign included: successful recruitment of local media—cable, newspaper and radio to participate, huge billboards around the community, a hotline, the involvement of local politicians, creation of grocery bad stuffers, posters and other materials and 90 events that attracted 1,000 individuals. But, one of the biggest keys to their success was the local planning committee’s ability to turn the campaign into a community event that got lots of people and more than 50 organizations involved.

Ken King, Lisa Arneson and Deb Trcka were the driving force behind this activity. Ken King and Lisa Arneson are credit counselors with Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Sheboygan. Deb Trcka is a teacher in the Sheboygan School District. She got her students so committed that they willingly pounded the pavement in the rain to get the word out. All three are very deserving of the Governor's Financial Literacy Award.

Ammar Askari

Ammar Askari is receiving this award for his activities in the Milwaukee area. He is a founding member of the Financial Literacy Alliance of Milwaukee for Education or (FLAME). This unique alliance which is financial-institution based has the goal of spreading financial literacy among urban youth. Its programs are now integrated into five urban Milwaukee elementary schools. Ammar also has helped improve many aspects of the Make a Difference Wisconsin financial education organization and he is a leader in the annual Milwaukee Money Conference held for low-income families.

Professor Bill Duddleston

Professor Bill Duddleston has played a key role over several years in the development of the National Institute of Financial and Economic Literacy. He has served since its beginning as the academic advisor of the Credit and Money session. This group of three graduate-level programs has been designated a "recognized best practice for teacher training" by the Financial Literacy and Education Commission of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. There is no other program on this scale in the United State. It attracts educators from around the country. Thanks for helping to create this jewel and congratulations on this well-deserved award Bill.

Vicki Kalman

Vicki Kalman founded a student run bank called Cardinal Bank in 2000 at South Division High School. It is a branch of Mitchell Bank. As the "first of its kind in the nation, the Cardinal Bank," has become a model used throughout the United States. In addition to being an enriching teaching laboratory it has served hundreds of students. Many are the first in their families to open bank accounts. The student activity often leads to other family member getting involved for the first time in the financial mainstream by opening accounts. The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin has supported the Cardinal Bank from its inception. The Cardinal Bank has even earned an outstanding rating from its regulator.

Carol May

Carol May has been active and innovative in reaching out to citizens of the Fox Valley region. Over the past four years Carol has helped students and businesses in the Fox Valley area with classes and seminars, lunch and learn sessions and through building partnerships with nonprofits such as Asset Builders of America and with area financial institutions. She also was involved in the Money Smart Week Wisconsin campaign last fall and has worked to make the Fox Cities Money Conference a valuable event for the community. Both strong attendance and surveys show she is getting people to change their money behavior. Congratulations to Carol.

Debra Neubauer

Debra Neubauer has championed financial literacy for many years in many ways in many places. As a bank officer she promoted financial literacy in several communities. She helped get the Dane County Housing Roundtable going to help potential homebuyers. She routinely serves on boards and other bodies because of her recognized expertise. As an administrator at the Financial Education Center in South Madison in its first year of operation she has helped more than 600 low-to-moderate income people increase their financial literacy skills through classes and coaching. She also was a key leader in the success of Money Smart Week Wisconsin in Dane County.

Annette O'Hern

Ten years ago when Annette O'Hern learned that LaCrosse students lacked financial know how, she decided to take action. She created a dynamic event called the Reality Store to help them. It puts students in a real life situation with dozens of real community businesses leaders including grocers, auto dealers, retailers, housing sources and other community businesses. Students then must learn to navigate a maze of real adult financial decisions that we all face. The popular event has served thousands of LaCrosse students and Annette has also helped other districts develop their own version.

Carol Seichter

For the past five years at Blackhawk Technical College Carol Seichter has worked to get the teaching of financial literacy incorporated into adult basic education classes because she recognized that many adults needed help. She herself has used knowledge gained at the National Institute of Financial and Economic Literacy to help county prisoners gain financial knowledge and decision-making skills as part of the Rock County Education and Criminal Addictions Program. She has also partnered with other organizations to promote financial literacy in the Rock County area.

Jeff Sroka

As an instructor Jeff Sroka has played a lead role in the success of the Business and Economics Academy of Milwaukee. His personal dedication and hard work have helped many who need to improve their level of financial literacy. These include students, many of whom are from central city Milwaukee and low-to-moderate income households. By taking a leadership role over the past five semesters in coordinating the after school Milwaukee Millionaire's Club Jeff has helped central city students improve their personal finance and learn how to invest through the Stock Market Simulation Game. Many members continue to invest in Wisconsin companies.

Bob Wynn

There is not enough time to list everything that makes Bob Wynn deserving of this award. Throughout his career which included five years in the Office of Financial Literacy at the Department of Financial Institutions Bob has been a catalyst for change and pioneered many new initiatives. They have helped to better the standard of living of those underserved by the economic mainstream. He helped create the Money Conference, the Marketplace Conference to promote minority business, the Urban Economic Development Association of Wisconsin, Communities Learning to Invest and Mobilize for Business or CLIMB which will start 100 investment clubs in central city Milwaukee and far too many other initiatives to mention. Bob continues his efforts today.


2008 Individual Award Winners

Janet Bewley

Janet Bewley became WHEDA’s native liaison to Wisconsin’s 11 tribes while working as a representative in Ashland, Bayfield, Douglas and Sawyer counties. She saw a need and put into practice every money program she could find. Recently she helped snare the Indian Business Conference for Wisconsin for the very first time.

Donna Kennedy

Involving 350 students in a learning exercise takes a major effort. Convincing dozens of active business people to help you calls for even greater energy. Donna Kennedy pulled off this double feat almost single handedly when she arranged the first-ever Mad City Money Simulation for students at Madison’s La Follette, East and Memorial high schools. Students loved it.

Stephanie Pelliterri

In 2004 Stephanie Pelliterri took responsibility for the opening the Tower Credit Union at Wausau West High School. When she expanded the Wausau School District Apprentice Program from one to five areas, she included a personal finance area. She has also promoted financial literacy during Money Smart Week and tried to make personal finance mandatory in the Wausau School District.

Teri Schult

Teri Schult of Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College pushed for change in far northwest Wisconsin. She spent countless hours getting businesses involved in Money Smart Week. She organized literature, newspaper articles and ads to invite community involvement. She taught fifth graders and girl scouts as well as their parents. Teri sets a high mark for individual leadership.

Fay Wagner

Like Teri Schult, Fay Wagner of Lakeshore Technical College seems like a dynamo. Her methods include developing courses, teaching, Money Smart Week planning, technology integration and showing others how to slot financial literacy into such topics as reading. Last year, she wrote modules with technology links for budgeting, credit, and savings. Her current focus is alternative delivery.


2009 Individual Award Winners

Sharon Abel

One group needing financial skills when they re-enter society is inmates in the corrections system. Inmates in the Sheboygan County Detention Center get it from Sharon Abel of Lakeshore Technical College. She partners with Consumer Credit Counseling Service to teach inmates and to give them valuable resources to use upon their release. One recent inmate came back after his release to complete his course because Sharon Abel convinced him how valuable it was.

Suzanne Dennik

Susan Dennik is a consumer and housing coordinator for Milwaukee and Racine counties. She addressed the needs of families caught in today’s mortgage crisis head on. She compiled accurate foreclosure data in every Wisconsin county and worked with UW-Whitewater to host an up-to-date website of foreclosure information to help them. She also helped sponsor three sequential statewide foreclosure events in 2007 and 2008.

Ann Meronek

Ann Meronek’s efforts started with a first financial literacy class at D.C. Everest High School in 2001. Since then, she added curriculum to it. Next, she involved community members in projects and as speakers. She also used a great deal of her personal time to speak to school boards and community groups. She worked with Brokaw Credit Union to establish branches at D.C. Everest and Merrill High Schools. Ann has also helped other schools to develop financial education curriculum.

Rita O’Brien

Rita O’Brien is a career and technical education program leader for the Appleton Area School District. Her leadership in promoting financial literacy began with a Personal Financial Management course at Appleton North High School. She helped make it a required course. It made Appleton one of the first districts in the state to pass such a requirement. Recently, she obtained a grant to pilot a program for fourth graders at three Appleton middle schools last summer.

Susan Schilz

Susan Schilz of the Wisconsin Department of Trade, Agriculture and Consumer Protection received six nominations for her award. Her hands-on approach to educating people across the state about privacy protection has resulted in large numbers of them getting on NO-CALL lists, obtaining free credit reports and guarding their personal information more closely. She also reaches large audiences through radio talk shows and interviews.

Michelle Tidemann

UW Extension’s Michelle Tidemann started the Ultimate Money Quest, a middle youth workshop held in Fond du Lac. It furnishes hands-on activities exposing youth to financial topics. It also provides a simulation called Reality Day whereby students experience valuable real-life money transactions. Michelle Tidemann will also co-chair 2009 Money Smart Week activities in Fond du Lac.


2010 Individual Award Winners

Dr. Gabrielle Banick

Dr. Gabrielle Banick, Career and Technical Education Coordinator of the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD), has demonstrated her innovation through the development of several key initiatives: The second annual Madison Finance and Investment Challenge Bowl (FICB) is a study program that promotes financial literacy among teams of students culminating in a live quiz show competition where students demonstrate their knowledge of investing, economics, credit concepts, and other personal finance topics; and MMSD high school students participate in the “Mad City Money” Reality Store. This simulation encourages students to be responsible money managers and consumers and builds positive habits for lifelong financial literacy. Because of her work with teachers, the MMSD now has personal finance classes and curriculum for four Madison high schools. Ms. Banick is an instructional leader in implementing the standards-based lessons and activities.

First Lady Jessica Doyle

Wisconsin First Lady Jessica Doyle has had a long, omnipresent involvement with financial literacy in Wisconsin, especially conveying the sense of importance by which financial literacy is regarded in Wisconsin. She has been actively involved with nearly all major financial literacy events in Wisconsin over the past eight years including, but not limited to, the following: Working closely and continuously with the Department of Financial Institutions' Office of Financial Literacy (OFL) boosting financial literacy awareness across Wisconsin; Supporting the National Institute of Financial and Economic Literacy (NIFEL), a week-long, teacher-training course, serving as a guest speaker at its sessions and hosting numerous closing events stressing the importance given to financial literacy for youth in Wisconsin; serving as the honorary chair of Governor Doyle's Council on Financial Literacy, taking a leadership role; Actively worked to make the nation's first statewide financial literacy campaign Money Smart Week Wisconsin (MSWW) a major success, in particularly, promoting the student learning simulation known as the Reality Store in several locales including Madison and Appleton. In short, she has helped make Wisconsin the recognized national leader when it comes to statewide financial literacy campaigns.

Cabinet Secretary Lorrie Keating Heinemann

DFI Secretary Lorrie Keating Heinemann has been an active advocate for financial literacy in Wisconsin for many years. As leader of the Department of Financial Institutions, worked closely with the Office of Financial Literacy (OFL) in a spirit of cooperation to raise awareness of the need for improved financial literacy and to encourage the OFL raise the bar and push the envelope to its limits in its efforts. She also serves as Chair of Governor Doyle's Council on Financial Literacy and has served on the Task Force that developed Wisconsin’s Model Academic Standards for Personal Financial Literacy, the nation’s first model academic standards and served as honorary chair of the State Superintendent’s Entrepreneurship Task Force whose charge is to develop model academic standards for teaching entrepreneurship in Wisconsin schools. In additional areas, Secretary Heinemann has championed angel and venture investing in Wisconsin, including the “fund of funds”, as a way to better link the state into major investor syndicates and promote investment and development of new companies in the state and has worked to enlighten Wisconsin citizens about the successes of women-led life science companies and the success women have had with them.

Cathleen J Hunt

Mrs. Hunt has developed a financial literacy program for our alternative high school that she calls ‘Diapers to the Dow’. Within the curriculum she uses a variety of teaching strategies to engage our at-risk student population of Milwaukee Public School seniors, ages 18-21, during a semester Economics class that she tailors to the knowledge and needs of the individuals within each student group. Her high-energy approach to hands-on, project based lessons demonstrates the use of all the factors that are stressed in the Financial Literacy Initiative: Income and Earning, Money Management, Credit and Deb, Saving and Investing, Consumer Education, Community Responsibility, and Risk Management. Ms. Hunt has also assisted a number of special education students who have been integrated into her class and has had success with these students, and all the students who have historically been unsuccessful in the traditional classroom, thrive in this environment. Each class is a new surprise and never dull.

LaDonna Leazer

Ms. Leazer's is the Business & Economics Coordinator at the Business & Economics Academy of Milwaukee (BEAM). BEAM, located in the heart of Milwaukee, is a public charter school with 600 students who are primariliy African American, has placed economics and personal finance literacy at the core of its mission. The economics and personal finance programs developed at BEAM serve as a model for other Wisconsin elementary and middle schools who wish to make economics and personal finance as a serious part of their school mission. Ms. Leazer coordinates BEAM's school-wide business and economics curriculum witth all BEAM teachers teaching a separate, discreet set of personal finance and economics lessons. Ms. Leazer conducts the pre and post testing of students at all grades, monitors teachers' progress in implementing the curriculum, offers and refers teachers to professional development opportunities and serves as a resource to all teachers. In addition, Ms. Leazer directs several after school programs for students, including the Millionaires Club, Click Em' Photography Club, Youth Enterprise Junior Academy, Financial Investment Challenge Bowl, TEACH IT! Online Series, PARENT IT! Online Series. Ms. Leazer was also selected as the Third Place, Junior Division winner of EconomicsWisconsin's 2008 Excellence in Teaching Economics and Financial Literacy Teaching Award, sponsored by Robert W. Baird & Company, creating a game called Econ-Mania as an extra tool for middle school students to learn the curriculum. Ms. Leazer has presented her game at two national conferences. She presented at the BAEO (Black Alliance for Educational Opportunities ) in 2008 (New Orleans, LA), 2007 (Philadelphia, PA) and will again present in 2010 (Milwaukee). She also presented this project at the Council for Economics Education (CEE) in 2009 in Washington, D.C. Ms. Leazer also helps coordinate the annual Milwaukee Money Conference which a day of financial workshops for kids and adults and has also taken bus loads of students to other Money Conferences in Racine and Madison. She has been instrumental in writing grants in order to escort students on travel tours with a financial component taking students to Washington, D.C. New York and recently was awarded a grant for a two-day travel tour to Chicago. Ms. Leazer serves as a lead team member in partnership with Alliance for Economical Inslusion (AEI) and fifteen local banks/credit unions. This initiative is also partly sponsored by the Federal Reserve and brings financial education to the unbanked in the school community as well as citywide. Finally, Ms. Leazer was one of 24 U.S. economic educators from 17 states selected to represent the U.S. on a Study Tour to the Republic of South Africa conducted by the Council for Economic Education and funded through the U.S. Dept. of Education as part of the Cooperative Education Exchange Program in Economics and Civics.

Meridee Maynard

Meridee Maynard represents what's best in a Wisconsin citizen in her tireless work to promote financial literacy to Wisconsin and within her industry. From the earliest days of her career in the insurance/financial industry Ms. Maynard took time to teach financial literacy in schools through Junior Achievement. Throughout her career she initiated several innovative financial literacy teaching tools for parents, teachers and youth, such as, the celebrated web site,, and Penny the Pig. Ms. Maynard was an early sponsor and planning team member of the National Institute on Financial and Economic Literacy, an unparalleled teacher training program on financial literacy. Ms. Maynard's commitment to this initiative goes beyond the call of duty--Ms. Maynard not only secures funding but personally provides excellent insurance instruction to the participants and opens her organization's doors to the educators for a memorable experience and luncheon year after year. Ms. Mayard frequently speaks on the importance of financial literacy at various events and meetings including Milwaukee's Money Conferences, educational and industry panels and conferences. Recognized as a leader in financial literacy Ms. Maynard was appointed to the Governor’s Task Force on Financial Education and is an appointed member of the Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy; and serves on the Economics Wisconsin Council Board as Chair.