Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance Founders

This group saw that rural schools were being underserved and underrepresented. In 2008 some of them got together to look at the situation and develop a plan. It started with meetings that grew into the first Rural Schools and Communities Conference in Wausau in the Spring of 2009. This was then followed up with more brainstorming and conferences in 2010 and 2011. The interim Board found the conference to be successful, but growing the membership was challenging. In the Spring of 2011, the initial formulation of the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance began with the Interim Board creating a job description for a part-time Executive Director. In 2012 Joan Wade became the President of WiRSA and Jerry Fiene was hired as the Executive Director and WiRSA became an official organization and the first Board was elected.

The 13 Founders were Bob Beaver, Jerry Fiene, Nancy Hendrickson, Ken Kasinski, Art Keenan, Bob Kellogg, Guy Leavitt, Chuck Pursell, Dave Polashek, Fred Schlichting, Don Stevens, Joan Wade and Fred Yeo.

Thanks to the vision of these founders, WiRSA continues to grow with a present membership of 220, which includes 155 rural school districts. Today we want to say thank you to the 13 founders and recognize them for their vision and passion for Rural Education.

L to R

WiRSA Board President, Ben Niehaus, Fred Yeo, Don Stevens, Bob Beaver, Chuck Pursell, Nancy Hendrickson,
Senator Luther Olsen (accepting on behalf of Joan Wade), Jerry Fiene and WiRSA Executive Director, Kim Kaukl

Not pictured are Dave Polashek, Bob Kellogg, Guy Leavitt, Fred Schlichting, Art Keenan and Ken Kasinski