Partnering to Strengthen Our Communities

Madison Gas and Electric
Annual Report on Giving 2018

Unidos Against Domestic Violence features messages of empowerment on artwork created by survivors of domestic violence. Unidos, a Madison-based nonprofit, provides services in Dane County and surrounding areas as well as education and technical support statewide to organizations that assist survivors of domestic violence. Unidos started in 1996 after volunteers identified a gap in services and resources for assisting survivors in Latino communities.

Giving Back to Our Community

Madison Gas and Electric’s (MGE) commitment to those we serve extends far beyond reliable energy. As your community energy company, we are committed to improving the quality of life for all who live and work here. We contribute to and help to better our community in three different ways, as demonstrated through examples in this annual report:

  • Charitable giving by the MGE Foundation.
  • Corporate giving by MGE through partnerships, collaborations and projects with local organizations and stakeholders.
  • Volunteerism and service of our valued employees.

This report captures some of the ways in which we give, partner and work to support the communities we are privileged to serve. Our hope is to provide a few examples that illustrate the numerous activities through which we have been honored to give back to our communities in 2018.

MGE Foundation

MGE Corporate Giving

MGE Employees

MGE's May Lor, Cedric Johnson and Laura Kaker

MGE’s May Lor, Cedric Johnson and Laura Kaker show their support at the YWCA Madison’s annual Circle of Women luncheon. Funds donated at the event support local programming to address race and gender equity, job training and transportation, and housing and shelter.

MGE Foundation

Established in 1967, the MGE Foundation is MGE’s philanthropic arm. Support from the Foundation helps our local organizations improve lives today and the lives of future generations by working to preserve the long-term health and vitality of our community.

In the last five years, the Foundation has given more than $5.2 million to more than 400 community organizations. These organizations help to create a better present and future in many ways, including:

  • Supporting the community’s most vulnerable populations.
  • Fostering our community’s culture, arts and history.
  • Protecting our health and environment.
  • Advancing diversity and inclusion.
  • Educating and nurturing our children.

In 2018 alone, the Foundation contributed to more than 175 local organizations, a few of which are featured in this report. The Foundation is proud to support the work of these organizations and the goals of many others across our community.

Foundation Giving: Community Service

The MGE Foundation's contributions to local organizations help to support long-term quality of life in our area and serve those who are at risk among us. From support for local community centers to our area’s domestic violence shelter, from child counseling and daycare to our local foodbank, our public libraries and beyond, there are many people working hard to serve and to improve our community for those who live here.

We see it as our responsibility and privilege to support these efforts and to work as partners. Here are some examples of the more than 175 organizations the MGE Foundation supported in 2018.

Kristin Rucinski
“The Road Home Dane County provides opportunities for homeless children and their families to achieve self-determined goals and affordable, stable housing. It takes a community response to end family homelessness, and the MGE Foundation has been a strong partner with The Road Home in finding solutions. Your support of our housing programs and energy-efficient improvements in our buildings makes it possible for more families to succeed.”
Kristin Rucinski, Executive Director
The Road Home Dane County (Pictured)

The Road Home Dane County

The Road Home logo

Access to stable and affordable housing in Dane County remains a critical issue for many families. Last year, The Road Home Dane County helped 183 families – including more than 400 children – find and maintain stable housing. Through partnerships with local nonprofits, government agencies, volunteers and businesses, The Road Home Dane County works with families to help build skills, connect with community resources and foster relationships that help to reduce the extreme emotional toll that homelessness has on children and parents alike.

In June 2018, The Road Home Dane County moved into a larger office space to serve more local families. The new facilities include better accessibility for families, private office spaces to ensure confidentiality, more space for classes and community-building activities, a children’s play area and a room for group therapy sessions and community meetings.

Sharyl Kato
“MGE has supported The Rainbow Project with their generous philanthropy since 1990. We are grateful for the MGE Foundation’s sponsorship of Rhumba 4 Rainbow, our annual fundraising gala. Some MGE employees also have volunteered to paint, clean and repair our clinic, while others raised funds to supply our play therapy rooms through United Way of Dane County’s Seasons of Caring. A few years ago, after a Rainbow therapist talked at MGE about how children’s superhero costumes helped child victims feel less vulnerable when they talked about their trauma, we received a dozen superhero costumes from MGE employees. These are the acts of kindness and caring that keep us going.”
Sharyl Kato, Executive Director
The Rainbow Project (Pictured)

The Rainbow Project

The Road Home logo

The Rainbow Project provides support to families with young children who experience trauma including abuse, neglect and violence. Evidence-based counseling services help build, strengthen and support healthy parent and child relationships in Dane County and surrounding areas. Programming is available to address the overall well-being of affected families as well as preventive education to promote community awareness to childcare centers, schools and local agencies. The Rainbow Rapid Response team also exists to provide immediate response and support for families involved in community violence or trauma crisis situations.

In 2018, The Rainbow Project was able to help more than 1,500 children and 1,600 adults through fundraising events such as the annual Rhumba 4 Rainbow event. Rhumba 4 Rainbow showcases a celebrity dance competition, a professional Latin dance floor show and an amateur salsa dance competition.

Foundation Giving: Culture and Enrichment

As the capital city, Madison enjoys a rich history from the seat of government to the state’s flagship university and the vision of Frank Lloyd Wright, architect of the city’s lakefront Monona Terrace. The city’s vibrant arts scene has grown with the community. The MGE Foundation recognizes the importance of culture, arts and history, to the fabric of our community, we’re committed to supporting the local programming, creativity and education that enrich our community’s arts and culture.

crowd playing jazz on the square
“Our mission is to make Madison a better place to be and visit by providing live jazz events free to the public. We promote awareness of the jazz art form and increase local community culture with performer diversity, enhanced visibility for our local jazz artists and public performance opportunities for area youth musical groups.”
Spencer Stanbery, Event Director Jazz at Five

Jazz at Five

Jazz at 5

Madison has a love for the performing arts, and live music is at its core. Jazz at Five, an outdoor summer concert series, provides free, live jazz performances to showcase the art while enhancing the visibility of local artists. The outside stage is set up where State Street meets the Capitol Square, a prime location that draws nearly 3,000 spectators to gather and enjoy live music from local youth and adult performers on Wednesday evenings in August.

The unique event is run mostly by volunteers and has been part of Madison’s culture for the past 25 years thanks to support from area businesses. The festive atmosphere has showcased many diverse acts both young and old and has become a true summer tradition for the community.

Deb Gilpin
“MGE has been a proud partner of Madison Children’s Museum for many years. They have supported our efforts to reduce barriers to access through our Access for Everyone programs and have been amazing supporters for our environmental education programming. Together we have worked to provide outdoor play experiences and nature exploration to all children through the museum’s three outdoor green exhibit spaces.”
Deb Gilpin, President and CEO
Madison Children's Museum (Pictured)

Madison Children’s Museum

Madison Children's Museum

The Madison Children’s Museum (MCM) is dedicated to connecting children with their families, communities and the world around them by fostering a love of learning through discovery and creative play. The museum, founded in 1980, hosts nearly 200,000 visitors, 300 school groups and more than 800 education programs annually. With its focus on children and the future, MCM is committed to sustainability - and is the only museum in Wisconsin to be awarded LEED Gold certification. Through recycled materials, repurposed exhibits and solar-powered energy generation, MCM seeks to go beyond green by working locally and sustainably on all projects.

Through corporate and individual donations, the Access for Everyone (AFE) programs at MCM were designed to welcome all members of the community to the museum regardless of financial, cognitive, cultural or physical barriers. AFE sponsors support monthly family free nights, subsidized admissions and memberships, group visits for schools and organizations at reduced prices; free memberships for first-time parents; and exclusive time for children with sensory challenges and their families to explore the museum.

Foundation Giving: Environment and Health

Investments today can yield a more sustainable tomorrow—launching environmental initiatives, advancing quality health care and building bridges of understanding. MGE has long supported health initiatives that touch many lives—from infants to seniors. We also have funded initiatives to protect our water, air and land as we work to educate the next generation. Environmental progress and a healthier population go hand in hand. We’re dedicated to promoting both in the communities we serve.

Deb Mike Wollmer
“With over 2,000 volunteers contributing almost 80,000 hours this past year, enthusiasm for our mission has never been higher. The Ice Age Trail provides an inexpensive, premier, outdoor experience only a short drive away for most Wisconsinites. MGE’s support of the expansion of our national headquarters in Cross Plains is allowing the Alliance to expand current initiatives and to develop new, meaningful opportunities for the ever-evolving diversity of future outdoor enthusiasts.”
Mike Wollmer, Executive Director
Ice Age Trail Alliance (Pictured)

Ice Age Trail Alliance

Ice Age Trail Alliance

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail is a 1,000-mile footpath, tracing ice age formations through some of Wisconsin’s most beautiful natural areas. The trail is maintained by a vibrant network of nearly 2,000 volunteers. Their work helps to give countless walkers, runners, hikers, nature enthusiasts and others the opportunity to enjoy and to travel the path year-round through 132 communities in 31 Wisconsin counties.

The Ice Age Trail Alliance, established in 1958, was created to support and to protect the trail through strongly rooted programs focused on trail development, land conservation, outreach, education, communications and philanthropy. Youth education programs provide future conservationists the opportunity to explore educational concepts through nature and provide service learning opportunities through volunteerism. Alliance volunteers and staff collaborate with local groups and organizations to introduce people to the economic, environmental and social benefits offered by the Ice Age Trail.

Lisa Peyton-Caire
“Partners like MGE make it possible for us to do the real work of supporting women every day to improve their health, transform their circumstances, and to literally save their own lives. Partnership makes the powerful difference, and MGE is on the front lines with us!”
Lisa Peyton-Caire, Founder and President
The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness (Pictured center)

The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness

The Foundation for Black Women's Wellness

Black women in Dane County and across Wisconsin face alarming health disparities and are more likely to die from heart disease, cancer and stroke as well as other highly treatable and preventable illnesses at higher rates and younger ages. Despite having greater access to health care in Wisconsin, black women face unique social and economic barriers and are less likely to receive preventive health care that facilitates timely detection, diagnosis and treatment of chronic conditions.

The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness is dedicated to disrupting these disparities by implementing long-term solutions to improve the lives and health of black women and girls in our community. Through sponsorships, the Foundation provides year-round health and wellness education and social supports centered around physical, emotional and financial well-being and partners with organizations to address systemic issues that impact black women’s health. The Foundation also hosts an annual Black Women’s Wellness Day, an event that brings together more than 500 attendees with informative and inspiring workshops focused on fitness, health, wellness and available community resources.

Foundation Giving: Equity and Inclusion

Respecting the differences of all people, perspectives and cultures helps us to advance the well-being of our community. MGE supports organizations that advocate for inclusion and provide opportunities and programs to help people reach their full potential regardless of race, ability, gender identity, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Our service area is fortunate to have a wide array of organizations that strive for the equitable participation of all groups in the communities we serve.

Vanessa McDowell
“We are grateful to Madison Gas and Electric and their strong partnership to promote and sponsor our Moxie Conference and Racial Justice Summit. These events provide an environment for people to learn and engage in authentic and reflective conversations around racial justice and gender equity. Attendees are equipped with resources to affect systemic and interpersonal change and leave empowered to carry out that work in their own respective ways and spheres of influence. Thank you for standing with us, MGE!”
Vanessa McDowell, Chief Executive Officer
YWCA Madison (Pictured)

YWCA Madison

YWCA logo

The YWCA Madison is dedicated to eliminating racism and empowering women. Through race and gender equity programs, the YWCA is working to create a more inclusive community that addresses and trains against racism and sexism. The organization’s programs help women develop skills to advance in their careers. The YWCA also works with individuals, organizations and companies in our community to improve in racial justice and gender equity.

To further its mission, the YWCA Madison hosts annual events such as the Women of Distinction Awards luncheon, designed to highlight and honor women in our community who are doing great work around YWCA Madison’s mission, and the Racial Justice Summit, which brings together community stakeholders to work on eliminating barriers that foster racism in our community.

Ruth Winas with dog

Ruth Winans, pictured above, is thankful to have been paired with her standard poodle, Faith. Both graduated from Occupaws in 2017. The two live on Madison’s west side and are inseparable. Winans says having Faith gives her the ability to walk confidently in the course of doing errands and participating in social activities, and Faith’s watchfulness increases Ruth’s sense of security.

“We appreciate the support that Madison Gas and Electric Foundation has given us over the years. With your help, we are able to provide veterinary care to our guide dogs and puppies in training to ensure we’re providing healthy, safe and effective partners for our clients.”
Barbara Schultze, President
OccuPaws Guide Dog Association

OccuPaws Guide Dog Association

OccuPaws logo

OccuPaws, based in Madison, raises, trains and places guide dogs with visually impaired adults throughout the state and parts of Illinois and Minnesota at no cost to the client. Since its inception in 2005, more than 50 individuals and guide dogs have been matched, free of charge, through careful assessment of lifestyle, activity and personality traits. The organization’s innovative training program provides custom sessions for the dog and client in their home environment. This ensures that each client learns the specific skills, learning style and innate characteristics of their dog without having to leave their home, job and family to receive effective training.

OccuPaws, run on a network of volunteers, provides full-time, in-home training to puppies at an early age to provide a foundation for learning and socialization. OccuPaws is accredited by the International Guide Dog Federation. As one of only 13 accredited training facilities in the country, military veterans also are able to receive all veterinary expenses paid for by the VA (the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs).

Foundation Giving: Youth and Education

Today’s youth represent our community’s future. MGE and the MGE Foundation are committed to providing the next generation with energy education for a more sustainable tomorrow. From elementary to college students, MGE provides programming around energy efficiency, sustainability, safety and utility industry careers. We also support local organizations that enrich the lives and expand the minds of young people through science, technology, engineering, math and beyond. Education and opportunity fuel a vibrant community, strong local economy and healthy families for our future.

Becky Steinhoff, Executive Director Goodman Community Center
“Some kids don’t know how good they are, how smart they are and how much their voice matters. Goodman is all about changing that. The more holistic our approach, the better outcomes we see. So we listen and surround our young people with opportunities to reignite their natural curiosity. They develop a strong sense of self and their potential. This promotes physical and emotional health and helps them envision their path to a meaningful, engaged life.”
Becky Steinhoff, Executive Director
Goodman Community Center (Pictured)

Goodman Community Center

Goodman Center logo

The Goodman Community Center has become a cherished community resource, serving 35,000 people every year. The center offers innovative programs that help preschool children through young adults succeed in school and life, nutritious meals and social activities that keep older adults healthy and connected, and an abundance of activities to support and enrich parents and families. Healthy food, fun and fitness are provided through a food pantry, gym, fitness center, skate park and free outdoor splash pad. The center’s community rooms are popular venues for weddings, classes and meetings with on-site catering offered through a teen-employment program. It’s a vibrant hub of activity.

For 65 years, Goodman has been powered by broad support from donors and community partners like MGE and nearly 3,000 volunteers annually. Goodman keeps growing and changing, but its growth is driven by one thing that will never change — its commitment to helping build a stronger, more inclusive community.

kids orchestra
“Music Makers is a program that has been impacting young people in the Madison area and their families for over 10 years. Now under the umbrella of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras, this program has the opportunity to grow and expand and meet the needs of even more young people. WYSO Music Makers enriches and develops the skills of children from all backgrounds in an inclusive and non-competitive environment. With shared experiences in music making, our program brings together a truly diverse group of families from all across the racial, ethnic and socioeconomic spectrum.

Thanks to the generous pledge from the MGE Foundation, we will continue to grow our programming and pursue our mission of providing transformative music experiences and opportunities to Madison’s young people.”
Bridget Fraser, Executive Director WYSO

Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras

WYSO logo

The Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) Music Makers program was established in 2007 for young children who have a passion for music. The program has grown from 11 violinists at its inception to more than 85 current students who make up an orchestra of violins, violas, cellos, pianos, guitars and vocalists. Students receive private and group lessons from professional musicians, access to instruments and performance opportunities for little to no cost.

The program also provides highly skilled and motivated middle to high school students the opportunity to build leadership experience, gain professional training and extend their musical coaching by mentoring and instructing students. Support for this program comes from local organizations and donors and helps develop the musical skills of children from diverse backgrounds throughout our community.

Corporate Giving

The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Andrew Sewell, delights audiences by bringing the unique characteristics of chamber music to audiences in settings as formal as a concert hall, as intimate as a classroom and as open and accessible as parks and other public spaces.

MGE Corporate Giving

MGE collaborates and works together with hundreds of organizations to provide service, help improve lives, tackle challenges and seize opportunities facing our community. We partner with local stakeholders in a variety of ways to advance shared goals and initiatives. From projects to partnerships, board service to support, we are privileged to work with many serving our community. Every day we work to be engaged in the fabric of our community, whether it’s helping to build a healthy local economy or helping to extend service to those in need. MGE commends all in our community who invest their time, energy and resources to make our area a better place to live.

As your community energy company, MGE is thankful for the opportunity to work with all of our local partners to support their meaningful work. This brief report includes a glimpse into some of those activities in 2018.

Corporate Giving: Community Partnerships

We appreciate all of the opportunities we have to work together with local stakeholders and our customers in pursuit of shared goals for our community. A few of our activities from 2018 follow.

Concerts on the Square

Concerts on the Square

Few things scream “summer in Madison” more than Concerts on the Square (COS). This favorite summer tradition, presented by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (WCO), was born in 1983 when local businesswoman Pleasant Rowland saw an opportunity to increase accessibility to the arts and create a sense of community while utilizing the beautiful Capitol lawn as a gathering place. Now in its 36th year, COS is the “Biggest Picnic of the Summer” and the six-concert series draws 120,000 to the State Capitol Concourse for “donation-supported” music and community gathering. It is the perfect example of how WCO strives to provide opportunities for people to “get close to the music.” Thanks to the outstanding efforts of the staff and musicians of the WCO, under the direction of Maestro Andrew Sewell, and the support of businesses and organizations committed to supporting a strong community, this treasured summer tradition will continue long into the future.

Latino Youth Summit

Latino Youth Summit
“We are proud to partner with the Latino Youth Summit to expose Latino middle school students to the energy field. Their interest and curiosity are always inspiring.”
Mario García Sierra, MGE Senior Customer Engagement and Community Development Manager and Centro Hispano Board Member

The two-day Latino Youth Summit, titled “On My Way to College,” hosted more than 70 middle school students from the Madison Metropolitan School District in June 2018. Students participated in culturally responsive workshops to explore various topics and skills and potential career paths in their journey from middle school to high school and college. Workshops included reimagining neighborhoods and learning about screen printing and computer video game design.

The Latino Youth Summit is a yearly event organized by Centro Hispano of Dane County in partnership with the UW–Madison School of Education and UW–Madison’s Office of the Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer, Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement.

MGE was honored to play a role in the summit by hosting students at the West Campus Cogeneration Facility, which provides heating and cooling for the campus and electricity for MGE customers.

Hmong New Year Celebration

Hmong New Year Celebration
“The Hmong New Year Celebration serves as an important social and educational opportunity for the community to learn about the Hmong culture, customs, language and history."
Phillip Yang, Executive Director
Wisconsin Hmong Association, Inc.

The Wisconsin Hmong Association, Inc. (WHA), has been serving the Hmong-American community in Dane County for more than 30 years. Hmong-Americans are the largest Asian ethnic group in Wisconsin with approximately 4,300 individuals living in the Madison area. The nonprofit embraces the Hmong culture and traditions, promotes leadership and provides educational opportunities. WHA operates a host of programs that promote traditional Hmong culture throughout the area; provide educational support for youth and adults; offer safety and wellness education; and encourage community engagement, leadership and entrepreneurism.

With several thousand attendees, the Hmong Madison New Year is WHA’s largest annual celebration. Free and open to the public, the annual celebration includes traditional Hmong singing and dance competitions, a fashion competition featuring Hmong designers, the Miss Hmong Madison pageant and talent shows.

The Big Share

The Big Share
“We wouldn’t be as successful with the Big Share as we’ve been without MGE. It helped with digital underwriting costs the first year of the Big Share and has been involved every year since. It’s not just dollars but expertise. The commitment of their team to share their expertise has been invaluable.”
Justin Williams, Campaign Manager
Community Shares of Wisconsin

Community Shares of Wisconsin (CSW) makes it possible for dozens of local and statewide nonprofits to do the work they do best. As the nation’s oldest social action fund, CSW partners with its more than 70 member organizations to provide workplace fundraising, staff development and capacity building so members can focus on their mission.

CSW stays nimble to meet the changing needs of its members and the businesses that support those members. As baby boomers began to retire and more millennials started to enter the workplace, CSW saw the need for alternatives to traditional workplace giving so it launched the Big Share—a single day of online giving. In the five years since it started, the Big Share has raised nearly $1.7 million to support organizations in Dane County and throughout the state.

OutReach Pride Parade and Rally

Pride Parade
“I've been the executive director of the OutReach Center for 12 years, and that whole time, and well before, MGE has been a donor to the Awards Banquet. When we say that MGE is a big sponsor, it gives other corporate sponsors confidence to participate. MGE's involvement goes beyond financial. It is a partner that gives us feedback and tips on working with other corporate sponsors.”
Steve Starkey, Executive Director
OutReach LGBT Community Center

The OutReach LGBT Community Center promotes civil rights and social justice and celebrates the presence and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The center and its root organizations have been offering support and social and educational services throughout Madison for more than 40 years.

OutReach provides a long list of advocacy, support, informational and educational services to thousands of members of the LGBTQ+ community and the broader public. For example, OutReach Center initiatives have provided more than $80,000 since 2011 in emergency housing grants to LGBTQ+ homeless individuals. Last year’s Pride Parade had more than 90 entries and attracted thousands of people.

MGE is a longtime supporter of OutReach’s annual fall Awards Banquet. The event raises more than $50,000 for programming and brings together hundreds of people to celebrate individual and programmatic accomplishments.

Neighborhood Events

Orton Park

Photo credit: Ken Swift

“MGE has been a terrific partner to MNA over the years, and your support has ensured these special neighborhood traditions continue to thrive and evolve with community needs. These festivals bring more to the neighborhood than music and togetherness. They are the very fuel behind all of MNA’s many community initiatives.”
Katherine Davey, MNA Festival Committee

Vibrant neighborhoods—and the active neighborhood associations that serve them—contribute to the quality of life in our community.

The Marquette Neighborhood Association (MNA) has been representing and serving the residents of the historic near-downtown neighborhood for more than 50 years. Designated as one of the top 10 Great Neighborhoods by the American Planning Association, MNA hosts festivals that provide family fun and raise money for community-supporting grants and programming.

MNA’s Orton Park Festival in August provides four days of music and festivities, including a slightly zany auction, an elegant Jazz Brunch and trapeze artists (pictured) under the park’s massive oak trees. The festival is one of the country’s longest-running outdoor music festivals.

Throughout the Madison area, festivals and community activities like bowl-a-thons, concerts, potlucks and picnics help neighborhood associations raise funds essential for vital local projects and provide community-driven, family-friendly recreation.

Black Women’s Leadership Conference

The Black Women’s Leadership Conference
“Black women are often isolated in their offices. This conference takes them out of their isolation for a few days and puts them in a space where they are learning from and engaging with women with shared experiences in the professional world.”
Sabrina Madison, Founder
Black Women’s Leadership Conference

The Black Women’s Leadership Conference provides personal and professional growth opportunities for women. Conference founder and organizer, Sabrina Madison – “Heymiss Progress” – started the conference in 2016 with the goal of having more black women in positions of leadership – happier and thriving.

The conference creates an environment where black women come together to feel supported, motivated and equipped to reach their goals. Attendees participate in sessions led by women who are leaders in their fields to connect with mentors and resources, while engaging in important conversations about how to elevate the collective status of black women.

MGE has helped sponsor the conference since it began. Madison says the financial support is certainly critical, but the bigger value is having employees on-site and interacting with conference participants. Ultimately, Madison says her hope is that more employers see and value the work black women are doing and hire them into substantial roles.

March of Dimes and MGE employees

Members of MGE’s March for Babies team pose ahead of the local 2018 March for Babies in Madison’s Olin Park. MGE and the MGE Foundation support the annual fundraiser benefitting the March of Dimes, which supports research, education and awareness to provide for healthy moms and babies. Left to right: Kan Hua, Roxanne Penland, Amy Ziegler, Ria Dowd, Mark Shikoski, Krista Strassman, Mercedes Molina, Malee Yang and Anne Pecard.

MGE Employees

MGE is more than pipes and wires. Our dedicated employees embody what it means to serve as your community energy company.

Outside of their jobs at MGE, they play active roles in helping to improve our community. Many of our more than 700 employees volunteer on local boards and committees and as members of economic development and nonprofit organizations.

Their service goes beyond ensuring MGE provides safe, reliable energy every hour of every day. We thank them for their deep commitment to our community and its people.

Employee Giving: The Power of Working Together

MGE’s dedicated employees volunteer on local boards, work for nonprofits and help generations from young to old. This report highlights only a small sample of the service of our valued employees who demonstrate a true commitment to our communities and the people who call them home.

United Way and MGE employees

MGE employees on our United Way Committee attended the United Way of Dane County’s Community Leadership Launch event to celebrate United Way’s 2018 community accomplishments and learn about upcoming changes. Left to right: Denise Hilleshiem, Laura Kaker, Trish Day, Vicky Heinz, Jeanne Burns-Frank, Pam Cross-Leone, Sue Skinner-Schmudlach, Bridget Creighton, Jim Jenson and Jillian Page.

Giving Through the United Way

United Way logo

Caring for the community is a big part of who we are and what we do at MGE. As a community energy company, we support the United Way of Dane County because of its extensive reach in helping our customers and broader community. The United Way works toward lasting change, sharing MGE’s goal of making our community a better place to live, work and enjoy.

MGE consistently ranks among the top 10 companies in total donations to the United Way. In 2018, our generous employees and retirees gave more than $163,000 to the Dane County campaign. We were recognized for our 2018 campaign efforts with a United Way Community Impact Award. This award honors MGE and its employees for their commitment to building a strong community where everyone can succeed in school, work and life.

Support throughout the year

2018 community impact award 5th place

MGE’s support of the United Way isn’t limited to an employee campaign each fall. We support United Way throughout the year, every year, in different ways.

MGE employees serve on various United Way boards, committees and Leadership Giving groups, helping to set the direction and address the needs facing our community. MGE employees also regularly volunteer their time and services at United Way partner agencies across Dane County.

MGE employees at Lussier Center

The Lussier Center gets a fresh coat of paint with (left-right) Holly Powell, former intern Riston Smith, Laura Kaker and Abby Schoeller.

Seasons of Caring

MGE employees assemble school supplies at the Urban League of Greater Madison

(Left to right) Steve Schultz, Andrea Billinghurst and Jim Jenson assemble school supplies at the Urban League of Greater Madison.

Many MGE employees also take advantage of the opportunity to help through the United Way’s Seasons of Caring campaign, which gets people involved by offering volunteer opportunities across Dane County. Seasons of Caring is designed to bring the community together throughout the year to make greater impacts through volunteerism.

One of our multiple teams of volunteers chose to work at the Urban League of Greater Madison for a few hours during the summer, helping to prepare program materials for the Urban League’s Schools of Hope Tutoring program.

Other employee volunteers in 2018 helped to paint rooms and hallways at the Lussier Community Education Center on Madison’s west side. Some helped clean up the grounds of the Bayview Foundation in Madison’s Triangle Neighborhood and prepare the garden for the season.

Other MGE volunteers helped Second Harvest Foodbank sort and repack bulk food items into smaller packages for distribution to families and individuals. Whatever the need, big or small, MGE employees have a long history of caring for their community.

Brian WIld and Joann Kelley

Joann Kelley and Brian Wild

Proud Theater is an award-winning, innovative youth theater program designed to foster self-expression and self-empowerment for youth who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer/questioning (LGBTQ) or who are the children of LGBTQ parents or allies of the LGBTQ community at large. The Proud Theater family is a unique space where queer-aligned youth can engage in in-depth discourse with several generations of diverse, queer-identified adults.

“I really appreciate the ‘ripple effects’ of Proud Theater beyond just the youth. Clearly the youth have opportunities to claim their own or others’ life experiences, but the impact it has on families – especially those who may have strained relationships is powerful. Seeing them on stage and among others who have accepting families sometimes makes parents say, ‘wow, I get it now.’”
Joann Kelley, Director of Residential and Community Services (Pictured with Brian Wild)

Two MGE employees, Joann Kelley, Director of Residential and Community Services, and Brian Wild, Administrative Support Specialist II, have been part of the Proud Theater family for years, and it has been part of theirs. Founded in 1999 by Kelley’s daughter, Sol Kelley-Jones, and Wild’s partner, Callen Harty, Proud Theater’s mission is to change the world through the power of theater and the theater arts and to make a positive difference in the lives of LGBTQ and allied youth.

“I’m a volunteer and have served on the board of directors. Sometimes I give young people rides to the theater and it’s a highlight of my life. I get to know them and talk with them. I’m a lesbian and open and talk about it. They don’t often see a professional woman in that light,” Kelley says.

Wild has been working in theater since age 8 and has been involved in more than 100 theatrical productions. He oversees six chapters of Proud Theater and is Artistic Director of Proud Theater Beyond – Madison, a pilot group for 18- to 24-year-old LGBTQ young adults. So, in addition to his “regular” job at MGE, Wild works nearly full-time overseeing these groups.

“Often, young people feel isolated. I work to make sure young people can express themselves and find a way to overcome bullying and family issues. I love watching young people come out of their shell and find themselves in the process,” Wild says.

“We regularly hear from youth who come to us saying, ‘You saved my life. If not for Proud Theater, I probably wouldn’t be here today.’ It horrifies me that they come from that place.”
Brian Wild, Administrative Support Specialist II (Pictured with Joann Kelley)

Dave Benforado

Dave Benforado
“I appreciate MGE’s flexibility in helping me be a community leader. The company is very supportive of community-building efforts.”
Dave Benforado, Senior Community Services Manager, MGE Residential and Community Services (Pictured)

Dave Benforado, Senior Community Services Manager with MGE’s Residential and Community Services, believes in public service and getting involved. He’s currently president of the Village of Shorewood Hills and previously served on the village board for 15 years.

“It’s in my DNA to try and help others in need. I want to help my community become better, and this is an extension of that,” Benforado explains. “I really enjoy representing the village.”

Benforado has called Shorewood Hills home for 25 years and spends many hours each month as an unpaid elected official attending meetings, working with the village administrator and connecting with many of the village’s more than 2,200 residents. Sometimes he’s called on to help celebrate community advancements like last summer’s expansion of the Ronald McDonald House or this summer’s groundbreaking for a much-anticipated east-west bike trail in the Marshall Court area. Sometimes he finds himself using his listening and facilitation skills to help the community work through divisive issues.


Orton Park

A number of employees and, often times, members of their families spend part of a Saturday morning in May picking up trash as part of the Adopt-a-Highway program supported by MGE. Employees who volunteered in 2018 include Matt Van Beek, Shelly Noonan, Mark Shikoski, Steven A. Schultz, Jeff Jaeckels, Carolyn Barker-Bowman and Dave Benforado.

A number of MGE employees participate every year in the state’s Adopt-a-Highway program, doing their part to help keep Dane County beautiful. Between April and November, MGE employees and their family and friends organize to clear trash along MGE’s two-mile stretch of Highway 14 near Madison.

The outings are reflective of MGE’s commitment to environmental stewardship. Every MGE employee is a member of the company’s Green Team, launched 25 years ago to encourage environmental responsibility and to ensure regulatory compliance at work.

MGE’s participation in the Adopt-a-Highway program is one way to put that Green Team ethic to work.

Wisconsin Public Television

MGE employees

MGE’s May Lor, Holly Lasky, Carolyn Whittaker, Maureen McCarville, and Dave Benforado pause while volunteering for the 2018 WPT Auction, which raises money for educational and children’s programming.

Television viewers have long relied on Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) for educational, informational and entertainment programming. WPT is home to national programming such as Sesame Street, Masterpiece Theater and Frontline and state-produced programming such as Here & Now, Wisconsin Life and Wisconsin Water from the Air. WPT has long depended on volunteers to help raise the money essential to producing and airing its exceptional programming.

WPT’s final televised auction in 2018 required 800 volunteers for the four-day event. More than 4,000 items were auctioned on-air and more than $125,000 was raised to support WPT’s programming, broadcasting and community outreach.

For many years, MGE has been a sponsor and supporter of WPT, and MGE employees have volunteered to help make WPT’s annual auction a success.


About Madison Gas and Electric

MGE Territory Map 2018

The company's roots in the Madison area date back more than 150 years. MGE's parent company is MGE Energy, Inc., which is traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange.

MGE Electric Services

  • Serves 153,000 customers
  • Serves a population of 327,000
  • Covers an area of 264 square miles

Communities served: Cross Plains, Fitchburg, Madison, Maple Bluff, McFarland, Middleton, Monona and Shorewood Hills

MGE Natural Gas Services

  • Serves 161,000 customers
  • Serves a population of 453,000
  • Covers an area of 1,684 square miles

Counties served: Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Iowa, Juneau, Monroe and Vernon

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