Reflecting on the Past 12 Months

November 24, 2020

The growth of the Foundation for Dane County Parks since Thanksgiving 2019 has far exceeded our expectations. The following accomplishments could not have been possible without these five basic elements of support and for which we are immensely grateful:

Countless hours of work from our committed Board of Directors and volunteers, a climate of support and ready willingness to help from Dane County Parks staff, significant in-kind help from local businesses, generous community partners, and contributions from supporters in the Dane County community who care about our Parks.   

Since Thanksgiving last year, the Foundation has:

  • Received two capacity grants totaling $135,000 over the next three years from the Madison Community Foundation and the Schlecht Family Foundation.
  • Hired two part-time staff: Elisa Guerrero as Foundation Coordinator and Jess Hankey as Fundraising Coordinator. 
  • Built and launched a new website (
  • Implemented donor management software to build a robust database of our supporters.
  • Elevated Tom Thoresen to Executive VP with his energy, organizational skills, easy going nature and leadership, in addition to his wealth of support for the Foundation.   
  • Developed a first draft of a three year financial sustainability plan. 
  • Commenced planning for a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan to be completed in 2021.  
  • Hired a bookkeeping service, obtained a professional volunteer Treasurer, and reorganized our financial processes. 
  • Started developing processes, policies and procedures for internal operations. 
  • Executed a three year partnership with Dean Health Plan and SSM Health for the Healthy Parks Healthy You project. 
  • Received a grant from MCF Legacy Society for "Legacy Trees" to be planted in Dane County Parks in 202, in order to replace trees lost to Emerald Ash Borer
  • Received a grant from American Family Insurance to implement a junior Naturalist Program at the Lussier Family Heritage Center and Lunney Lake Farm County Park. 
  • Acted as fiscal agent for the Lewis E-Way restoration project, which will be located in the Lussier Family Heritage Center.
  • Helped build capacity of several friends groups and build educational and interpretive programs through grants from the Friends of Dane County Parks Endowment; totaling $32,000 over the past two years, all while keeping the integrity of the fund in tact. 
  • Built the Friends of Dane County Parks Endowment to nearly $650,000. 
  • Continued to help spearhead the Accessible Piers Project (Salmo and Babcock and Fish Camp Parks). 
  • Published four newsletters; set up an active Facebook page and began using social media to raise funds. 

We are so proud of these accomplishments, especially considering how much the pandemic changes our plans this past year. We could not have done this without the incredibly dedicated support of the following individuals and organizations : 

Community Partners: 

Madison Community Foundation

Schlecht Family Foundation

Acumium and Samantha Haas

Heidi Habeger and Caleb Pourchot

Lon Sprecher, Mike Weber, and the energetic Dean Health Plan/SSM Health Team

Madison Community Foundation Legacy Society

American Family Insurance  

Andy Lewis and the E-Way Project

County Executive Parisi and the Accessible Piers committee

Dan Miller and the Mad City Dream Homes Team 

Foundation Board of Directors:  

Tom Thoresen, Lon Sprecher, Matt Carlson, Randy Hackbarth, Gail Shea, Caryl Terrell, Mike Weber, Andy Lewis, Jim Hubing, Mike Slavney, Judie Pfeifer, and Bill Lunney

Active Volunteers

Dan Miller, Dean Kalmerton, Heidi Habeger, Samantha Haas, Tracy Kapela, Jean Mraz, Stefanie Brouwer, Nelson Eismann, Gary Werner, Ray Ropers. Monica Spaeni, Chuck Rolfsmeyer

Dane County Parks Staff

Darren Marsh, Lael Pascual, Chris James, Rhea Stangel Maier and Laura Hicklin

And over 600 additional supporters!

Judie Pfeifer and I are eternally thankful for these successes and the work of so many friends and colleagues. We have built new friendships, renewed old friendships and look forward to continuing our work. 

- Bill Lunney

Published on
November 24, 2020

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