Growing up in southeastern Wisconsin, near the Kettle Moraine State Forest, Michelle Downer learned the phrase "Be good to your neighbor" early on.
"It's part of our DNA in Wisconsin, where we organize grassroots fundraisers for families experiencing crises and buy from businesses that care and serve," she said. For Michelle, this translated first to a liberal arts degree earned through service learning at UW-Milwaukee and a master's in library and information science at UW-Madison and then a professional journey to help others through philanthropy.
Her 15 years of advancement services experience bridges positions in higher education, the nonprofit sector and corporate social responsibility. "I'm an enthusiastic advocate for the power of philanthropy and its impact and ability to transform communities, people and institutions."
Keen organizational skills and a fondness for the University of Wisconsin System led her to her current passion, her position as database administrator in University Advancement and the UW-Whitewater Foundation. "I support a dynamic team that enables donors' philanthropic aspirations to be realized at UW-Whitewater," Michelle stated.
Michelle manages the database that houses information about alumni, donors, and other friends of the university. She ensures the integrity and accuracy of donor and gift records and supervises student employees who warmly greet Alumni Center guests.
"I was a first-generation college student, and my experience as a student in our state's public education system helped inspire me to give back to my local and broader communities. I feel blessed that I am part of the family of faculty and staff that help UW-Whitewater students make their aspirations to become a reality," she said.
Office of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
800 West Main Street
Whitewater, WI 53190