Kristen Mekemson loves hearing alumni talk about their college days.
"I love the stories. I love that people can be so connected to a place they haven't been back to for 50 years," she said. One particularly inspiring story she heard came from a successful businessman. He recalled the professor who required daily office appearances to keep him from flunking out as a freshman. That professor saw potential in him that he could not see at the time.
Those stories remind her of the transformative power of education and how UW-Whitewater changes lives.
"UW-Whitewater is very cutting-edge. It has progressive programs and dedicated faculty,'' she said. "But students still need help. Because a lot of them are first-generation, this could mean a big direction change in their lives."
Mekemson's understanding of philanthropy grew when she worked for a family foundation, overseeing programs to be sure they met the donor's strategic goals.
Combining both sides of the philanthropy experience helps
her understand the motivations of donors and their willingness to give.
"People want to help, especially if they were given help at a particular stage, whether at college or somewhere else,'' she said. She is delighted to be at a place so focused on supporting promising students. "I have a passion for education and I really believe it's the key to changing people's lives.'
Mekemson lives in Wauwatosa, where her golden retriever, Homer, takes her on early-morning runs along the Menomonee River Parkway as she trains for sprint triathlons.
Contact Kristen at 262.472.1622 or email@example.com