I'm humbled whenever I consider the position I have. I get to tell your stories, whether it's crime, fire, personal triumph, or even just a fun weekend activity that brings a smile to kids' faces.
This is not a scientific list, nor indicative of how well I may have gotten to know people personally; it's just my observation of who always seemed to 'be there' when something was happening in the community. There is also no meaning to the order, so don't read into it.
1. Suzi Link - folks either love her or hate her, but I have to admit she shows up. A lot of long Common Council meetings during much of the year would have worn others out, but Link has been a perennial presence to argue her point and to make sure the aldermen take the public into account. It has made her a lightning rod, and may make some shrink from speaking out.
That's admirable when I consider so many other people don't come to important meetings that do impact their lives. Small government is also the most accessible, and as one alderman once told me, "it's her voice that I hear whenever I'm considering a decision, because I know I have to state my reasoning so that people understand why." If that is Link's impact, we all win.
2. Phil and Steve Ziegler (yep, that's two, but it's one pair that I can't separate) - heading up InPro Corp. in Muskego's business park, the brothers have posted quite a year: expanding their markets to India, expanding their footprint locally to reunite their New Berlin offices back in Muskego and hosting Mitt Romney at the end of March. Most of the philanthropic work they do is unheard of by many, and they often request it to be that way. If not their name in print, their impact on many sports teams, buildings and organizations has been lasting and appreciated.
3. Gary Mrotek - an officer with the Muskego Police Department, Mrotek (and I may never get out of a speeding ticket for saying this) is called 'Mr. Incredible.' However, aside from the likeness, Mrotek is also incredible in his involvement with the community.
He teaches the Muskego Police Citizens Academy twice yearly, a ten-week course to show residents what police officers have to know and deal with on a regular basis. He is also an instructor with Safety City, teaching the youngest residents how to react in an emergency. For the grown-ups, he's at the head of the class for Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training, and also is active with that organization on a regional level. Basically, if it's a community-centered initiative, Mrotek is the ambassador for the police department, and we're a lot smarter and safer as a result.
4. Tina Weiss - taking a lot of flak over her signature on a Walker recall petition - and I mean a LOT of flak - may have had others bowing to public pressure to quit a position at the Muskego Area Chamber of Commerce. Fortunately for the pro-business lobby, she stayed on and helped bring back a hugely successful Jammin' on Janesville 2012, and added on to the Chamber's scope by helping foster two new groups under its wing.
The Young Professionals networking group seeks to bring in the 20 and 30-somethings to build their careers, and Women's Business Connections, which will hold its first program meeting on January 22, helps connect and empower women in business in the Muskego area. It takes a lot of backbone and just as much vision to thrive, and Weiss has helped grow the business community into a much stronger unit than it was even two years ago.
5. Gail Levin - If you want to get something done, ask a busy person. Levin is the Energizer bunny, which not only helps her direct her clients at the Curves fitness center she's owned for 12 years, but has also helped the organizations she's a part of. An active Woman's Club member, Levin also is a co-founder of the Women's Business Connections group, a part of the aforementioned Muskego Chamber satellite groups.
With health as part of her focus, Levin has also spearheaded 'Conversations for the Cure," which provides breast cancer information to women.
Underlying all of her efforts is a positive and enthusiastic 'I dare you, life' attitude that is infectious to those who work with her, are counseled by her, or happen to share a room with her for a little while. It's not hard to imagine Levin as a former mud logger on an oil rig, all five feet of her. While it's said of some people that you are smarter for having known them, Levin is that person I feel stronger for having met.
I look forward to sorting through another list in 2013. Thanks for sharing your talents and your tales, everyone.