My name is April Fair. I started at Great Rivers United Way in September 2023. My past role as an Adolescence Shelter Worker in the WRAS shelter unit at La Crosse County opened the door for me to want to do more for my community.
I graduated from an HBCU (Historically Black College and University) in 2012 with a Criminal Justice degree. I have always had the passion to help others. I am a person with a huge heart. I am excited about being a Community Health Worker (CHW) at Great Rivers United Way. I know I have so much to bring and learn within the role. My plan is to continue to build the CHW brand in a positive way and put CHWs on the map.
In my spare time, I coach the dance team that I founded last year: the Lax Elite Majorettes. I see that as my way of giving back to my community. I love coaching my girls – it brings me joy to see them grow not only as dancers, but young ladies.
15 Questions for April
- What are you most excited about in your new position? Getting to know new people, and connecting with resources to help individuals and families in my community.
- Favorite color? Pink
- Number of children? 3
- Least favorite household chore? Dusting
- Latest tidbit you’ve learned about United Way? The many different departments within the company.
- Favorite recreational activity? Dance
- Genre of music? Saxophone Jazz, Hip Hop, and R&B
- Most likely to order on a menu? Steak and Cheesecake
- Favorite movie? Waiting to Exhale and Sparkle
- Most looking forward to in your first United Way campaign? Meeting the goal
- Role model? Angela Bassett and Kandi Burruss
- Favorite place to visit? Texas
- Guilty pleasure? Staying busy
- Memorable moment in the new job thus far? Graduating from CHW training
- Favorite thing about our community? The diversity
Hello! My name is Jennifer Roberts. I grew up in Black River Falls but moved away for college, and began a life in Ohio. I had two wonderful children, who have since provided me with three beautiful granddaughters. I also lived in Iowa, where my children completed school, for 14 years.
I went back to Upper Iowa University as a nontraditional student and completed my elementary education degree. I started my professional career as a home visitor at HAWK Partnerships for Children and was saddened when the grant that funded my position ended. I then ran the Postville Community School District’s home school program, working in partnership with the boys and the girls private, Jewish schools.
I found myself wanting to spend time with my dad, so I moved back to Black Rivers Falls about 10 years ago. He was diagnosed with cancer, and we have since lost him. I now reside in the home I grew up in.
I heard about a job as a home visitor at Children’s Wisconsin in Black River Falls and applied. I worked at Children’s as a home visitor and later as a Community Health Worker (CHW). I started with Great Rivers HUB in October 2023. I am excited to see the growth of the HUB’s CHWs and all of the great work they do to support those who need it the most.
15 Questions for Jennifer
- What are you most excited about in your new position? Helping those that help others.
- Favorite color? Red
- Number of children? 2
- Least favorite household chore? Any! I would rather clean the barn!
- Latest tidbit you’ve learned about United Way? How much great work they do in the community.
- Favorite recreational activity? Horses and reining horses, in particular.
- Genre of music? Anything but country.
- Most likely to order on a menu? I am trying to stay away from fried foods, but you have to order it sometimes.
- Favorite movie? Horse movies
- Most looking forward to in your first United Way campaign? The excitement of the team and team effort everyone shares.
- Role model? Great leaders, who have real passion and dedication – no one in particular.
- Favorite place to visit? Any vacation – perhaps an all-inclusive resort.
- Guilty pleasure? Chocolate and flavored coffee
- Memorable moment in the new job thus far? I love how positive and helpful everyone is. It is a true team here.
- Favorite thing about our community? How friendly and helpful everyone is.
Our newest staff member, Connor Glassen, just started as our Community Engagement Coordinator. Connor is 31 years old and lives with his partner, Thomas, and cat, Chopsticks, in La Crosse. Originally from Racine, Connor came to La Crosse for university at the UW-La Crosse and fell in love with the area right away. He studied political science and economics, and minored in Chinese, graduating in 2016. Connor started his career working in political campaigns and nonprofits, and caught the bug ever since. He has lived in La Crosse on and off for a decade, with moves to Seattle and then Minneapolis before again landing back in his home state of Wisconsin, and college town of La Crosse, in 2021.
Connor came to GRUW from a Wisconsin state agency; however, he traditionally worked in political organization, community engagement, and political fundraising. He was eager to get back to community engagement work and volunteer coordination with an integral organization that helps the Coulee Region.
In his free time, Connor enjoys long walks on the beach; cooking; kayaking; hanging out with Chops and Thomas; trying new restaurants; hiking in our beautiful bluffs; mushroom foraging; and traveling to places he has never been at least once a year, a list that includes China, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Italy, France, and the UK – and growing!
15 Questions for Connor
- What are you most excited about in your new position? The opportunity to connect with our corporate partners, volunteers, and donors. The relationship building is what I enjoy most about any of my positions I have held in the past.
- Favorite color? I’ve always had an affinity to a nice bright orange or dusty blue.
- Number of children? Just Chopsticks and no plans for any others!
- Least favorite household chore? I’d have to say deep cleaning a bathroom or anything that involves scrubbing.
- Latest tidbit you’ve learned about United Way? Our services or partner services have been used over 71,000 times in 2022 in Monroe County alone!
- Favorite recreational activity? Going on Fall hikes in the bluffs
- Genre of music? Independent Rock and 90’s R&B
- Most likely to order on a menu? Appetizers/Small Plates and then go to another restaurant to try different appetizers/small plates
- Favorite movie? Chocolat or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
- Most looking forward to in the first United Way campaign? Learning how they operate and run and making connections with all of our sponsors and volunteers.
- Role model? President Lyndon B. Johnson for his work on the Civil Rights Act & Voting Rights Act
- Favorite place to visit? Seattle & the Washington/Oregon Coast
- Guilty pleasure? Doing my semester abroad in China. I love love love authentic Chinese food. But, my guilty pleasure… I will do a lot for a Crab Rangoon as much as I hate to say it.
- Memorable moment in the new job thus far? Tabling at Century foods with my colleagues and being able to practice my Spanish!
- Favorite thing about our community? The generosity of it and our proximity to the outdoors along with a very vibrant downtown.
Hello, I am Autumn Grooms, Great Rivers United Way’s new Development Director. In my position, I will oversee fundraising efforts, develop a grant program, and work to increase brand awareness in the community through relationships with current and potential sponsors as well as individual donors.
I have worked in the public and nonprofit sectors for 13 years managing human services programs and writing and administering grants. Most recently, I was the Community Services Manager for the City of El Mirage, Ariz., leading a team that delivered and administered the City’s grants program, as well as Homelessness Services, Transit Services, Special Events, and the El Mirage Senior Center. During my time in Arizona, I was fortunate to develop relationships with public and nonprofit partners that allowed for additional opportunities for the City’s residents.
Before moving to Arizona in 2017, I worked in grants and communications for the Sparta Area School District and YWCA La Crosse. I began my career as a reporter with the La Crosse Tribune. I am also currently an adjunct professor with Grand Canyon University, where I teach public administration courses.
An Onalaska native, I graduated from West Chester University, with a Doctor of Public Administration. I also graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, earning a master’s degree in cultural foundations of education, and the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, earning a bachelor’s degree in human services.
15 Questions for Autumn
- What are you most excited about in your new position? Finding grant opportunities that will help to strengthen partnerships and collaboration with our Great Rivers United Way partners.
- Favorite color? Green
- Number of children? One, Vincent, a junior at Onalaska High School
- Least favorite household chore? Folding clothes – I don’t think the pile ever ends.
- Latest tidbit you’ve learned about United Way? GRUW has partnered with UW-La Crosse, Viterbo, and Western Technical College on an amazing website for those looking to be connected with volunteer opportunities: Ugetconnected, www.ugetconnected.org. Right now, there are holiday opportunities, as well as long-term opportunities, available. It’s definitely worth checking out for those who want to get involved in the community.
- Favorite recreational activity? Hiking
- Genre of music? Folk Rock
- Most likely to order on a menu? If it’s on the menu, Taco Pizza.
- Favorite movie? “Weekend at Bernies”
- Most looking forward to the first United Way campaign? Meeting the campaign coordinators who do so much for GRUW at their organizations.
- Role model? My parents. They taught me to work hard and always be kind.
- Favorite place to visit? Phoenix. The city was at first a place I loved to visit, then it became a second home.
- Guilty pleasure? I’m not sure I have one.
- Memorable moment in the new job thus far? The Kick-Off Breakfast. It was wonderful to see so many GRUW supporters in attendance.
- Favorite thing about our community? It’s hard to choose one favorite thing about our community – it’s welcoming, beautiful, and there is a sense of community and collaboration that is difficult to duplicate. Having left and returned, our community also feels like home no matter if you are visiting for a weekend or longer or staying long-term. People here care about one another and want to help their friends and neighbors, even if they have never met.
Hello! My name is Aron Newberry, the inaugural Workforce Development Manager at Great Rivers United Way’s Great Rivers HUB. My primary responsibility is to collaborate statewide in advancing the Community Health Worker (CHW) workforce, particularly in underserved rural communities.
Having previously served as the Director/Health Officer at the Trempealeau County Health Department and the La Crosse County Covid-19 Vaccine Coordinator, I have always embraced tackling new and complex problems. I firmly believe in seeking collaborative solutions with partners, engaging the community for feedback, and demonstrating the courage to make difficult decisions or changes.
The CHW workforce is essential for promoting health equity, improving access to care, and delivering culturally appropriate services. Their unique skills and community connections make them valuable assets in addressing health disparities to create healthier, more resilient communities.
15 Questions for Aron
- What are you most excited about in your new position? I have successfully facilitated building bridges between communities at the County level, but this project has the capabilities to reach the much larger region of Western Wisconsin. I am excited to build/grow something to enhance the lives of all Wisconsinites.
- Favorite color? Blue
- Number of children? 2
- Least favorite household chore? Any inside chore.
- Latest tidbit you’ve learned about United Way? There are 42 local United Way branches throughout Wisconsin as of 2023.
- Favorite recreational activity? Recreational boating. I don’t have one, but if you do, look me up. I’m a good time.
- Genre of music? Almost anything. It either needs to get me pumped up or to calm me down. Sad songs don’t usually make the cut.
- Most likely to order on a menu? A taco…you can never go wrong with a taco or any of its brothers and sisters the burrito, quesadilla, enchilada, fajita, etc.
- Favorite movie? Gladiator
- Most looking forward to the first United Way campaign? Helping to build/rebuild community.
- Role model? The late Senator Paul Wellstone who said, “We all do better when we all do better,” which is one of my core life principles/beliefs. We lost him too soon.
- Favorite place to visit? My folk’s home in Central Illinois, on the West facing front porch swing, in the summertime. Looking out over an ocean of corn while the sun goes down. Absolute perfection!
- Guilty pleasure? The NFL, what’s not to love? Throw in a little fantasy football amongst friends and you have a potent combination.
- Memorable moment in the new job thus far? I think watching the first CHW class graduate. They do important work, and it isn’t easy. I’m inspired by anyone who commits to a process in service to others. The results may not be immediate, but the investment in people will pay dividends in time.
- Favorite thing about our community? La Crosse is really great. It is a nice small city with a little bit of everything. It has a great deal of history, it’s incredibly beautiful, and there is a good sense of community and stewardship.
Jan Henry is new to Great Rivers United Way, but she is very familiar with non-profit organizations, and the great impact these organizations have throughout our community. Jan was the Finance & Operations Manager for the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra for eighteen years and had developed a new inspiration for the Arts and its impact on this area. Music truly is good for the soul.
As the Finance Director here at Great Rivers United Way, she’s excited about the opportunity to help support the community programs that make this area so special.
15 Questions for Jan
- What are you most excited about in your new position? Learning more about the agencies we collaborate with.
- Favorite color? Purple
- Number of children? 2
- Least favorite household chore? Cleaning the litter box.
- Latest tidbit you’ve learned about United Way? They do more for the region than I had originally thought.
- Favorite recreational activity? Reading
- Genre of music? Pop/Rock
- Most likely to order on a menu? Chimichangas
- Favorite movie? Any of the Batman movies.
- Most looking forward to in the first United Way campaign? Developing a full understanding of the campaign process.
- Role model? Giannis Antetokounmpo
- Favorite place to visit? Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
- Guilty pleasure? Donuts
- Memorable moment in the new job thus far? Having to paint a picture of Teri during a staff meeting.
- Favorite thing about our community? The beauty
Great Rivers United Way announces 2023-24 Campaign Co-Chairs
Great Rivers United Way is pleased to announce that Chuck and LuAnn Roth will serve as the nonprofit organization’s 2022-23 Campaign Co-Chairs.
Originally from Janesville, Chuck and LuAnn moved to the La Crosse area in 1988 when Chuck became Vice President and General Manager of WXOW-TV in La Crosse and WQOW-TV in Eau Claire. LuAnn worked as a physical therapist at the time.
The Roths have a long history of volunteering for their local United Ways.
Prior to moving to La Crosse, Chuck and LuAnn lived in Eau Claire, where Chuck served on committees for the Eau Claire Area United Way. Once established in La Crosse, Chuck served on the Board of Directors for what was then known as the United Way of the La Crosse Area from 1992 to 1996. He was elected Board President 1995. More recently, Chuck and LuAnn served on Great Rivers United Way’s Campaign Cabinet in 2018 and 2019.
“Now that we are both retired, we felt this was the opportune time to serve as Campaign Co-Chairs and to do our part in supporting our United Way. We were honored to be asked and happy to say yes,” shared the Roths.
As Campaign Co-Chairs, Chuck and LuAnn will advocate in their personal and professional circles, as well as out in the community, to help raise funds for Great Rivers United Way. They will serve as a public face at events and in the media.
When asked what they were most looking forward to in the next year, Chuck and LuAnn said sharing the positive United Way story.
“GRUW serves such an important role in our community, and we are proud to support its purpose and mission..”
Great Rivers United Way accepts donations year-round at www.gruw.org/waystogive. Donations made by January 31, 2024, will be granted to local nonprofit programming throughout that year.
Hello! My name is Charity Givesalot, and I’m the newest member of Great Rivers United Way’s fundraising team. I came to GRUW from the North Pole, where I worked as a Scout Elf (aka an Elf on the Shelf). I’m very curious and love to learn. There’s nothing I like more than helping!
15 Questions for Charity
- What are you most excited about in your new position? I look forward to learning more about our communities’ needs and the many ways GRUW and its partner agencies are meeting them.
- Favorite color? Red.
- Number of children? None, but I really like kids!
- Least favorite household chore? Cleaning up after myself.
- Latest tidbit you’ve learned about United Way? Great Rivers United Way funds 51 programs offered by 27 agency partners. I hope to visit them all soon!
- Favorite recreational activity? Travel.
- Genre of music? Holiday.
- Most likely to order on a menu? Dessert! I have a sweet tooth.
- Favorite movie? Elf starring Will Ferrell (even though it’s not very realistic).
- Most looking forward to in your first United Way campaign? I get to lead this year’s Giving Tuesday efforts! You can learn more at www.gruw.org/givingtuesday!
- Role model? Santa – he’s the most giving person I know.
- Favorite place to visit? Home! The North Pole.
- Guilty pleasure? Getting into mischief.
- Memorable moment in the new job thus far? My colleagues gifted me an XXXXXS LIVE UNITED t-shirt on my first day. I love it!
- Favorite thing about our community? I like how generous people are. When they learn about an issue, they don’t hesitate to help solve it with gifts of time and treasure!
Carolyn and her adoptive parents moved to La Crosse from California when she was in elementary school. Her father’s job kept him away from home for long periods of time, leaving Carolyn alone with her mother, who lived with untreated mental health issues.
Carolyn experienced things no child should. When her mother invited strangers into their home, Carolyn put herself in harm’s way to protect her little sister, who was born when Carolyn was nine. Many years passed before Carolyn disclosed the sexual abuse she endured at the hands of these predators.
When Carolyn got pregnant at age 19, she felt societal pressures to get married even though the relationship was abusive. After a routine screening for risk factors at a prenatal appointment, Carolyn was referred to United Way funded program Healthy Families.
Carolyn was assigned a Healthy Families social worker, and soon they were preparing her to be the best mother possible. For once, Carolyn, who grew up equating love to self sacrifice, was on the receiving end of help.
Carolyn found the courage to leave her husband when her daughter was 13 months old. Her social worker connected Carolyn with resources, several of which were United Way funded programs. She and her daughter ate at The Salvation Army, received clothing from New Horizons’ boutique, and moved into subsidized housing.
With her social worker’s help and a lot of grit, Carolyn created a one-year plan that included insurance, employment, and going to college. She accomplished all of this and more thanks to the foundation provided by United Way funded programs.
Twenty-ish years later, Carolyn has two degrees with a PhD in progress, two more beautiful children, and a career focused on uplifting and empowering women with stories like hers. Among her projects is Fierce Foundation, a self-sufficiency initiative she hopes one day can become a United Way program, bringing her journey full circle.
Imagine a Coulee Region where Carolyn and women like her are not defined by past traumas, but rather the perseverance it takes to overcome. It’s possible with a gift to Great Rivers United Way.
My name is Chris Burks. I am passionate about making an impact on the youth and families in our community, whether it was volunteering with Big Brothers, Big Sisters when I was in college; to coaching youth athletes; to becoming a foster parent – all of which led me to becoming a Community Health Worker (CHW) for the La Crosse Area Family YMCA. It was one of the most life-changing experiences I’ve had. Helping our most vulnerable community members overcome barriers of health is extremely rewarding. This passion led me to the Great Rivers HUB, where I believe I can have a bigger impact on our community and spread the CHW workforce through out the state.
15 Questions for Chris
- What are you most excited about in your new position? Being able to help impact the CHW workforce in our community and the state.
- Favorite color? Carolina Blue
- Number of children? 4 – ages 12, 4, 3, and 6 months old. They definitely keep me on my toes with very little quite time.
- Least favorite household chore? Mowing the lawn and shoveling snow are a tie.
- Latest tidbit you’ve learned about United Way? I have been amazed with all the neat programs we offer.
- Favorite recreational activity? Sports (Hockey) and playing music (drums)
- Genre of music? I have a very wide range of musical tastes – my favorites are rock, hip hop, and musicals.
- Most likely to order on a menu? Cheese curds – I always order them when available.
- Favorite movie? Any of the Harry Potter movies.
- Most looking forward to in the first United Way campaign? Just seeing our community come together to support each other.
- Role model? My Grandpa – he set an amazing example of how to support and love your family.
- Favorite place to visit? Anna Maria Island – we went there as a family for Christmas last year.
- Guilty pleasure? Musical soundtracks
- Memorable moment in the new job thus far? Getting to hear Community Health Workers share their stories of all the amazing work they’re doing in the community.
- Favorite thing about our community? The way we come together to try and help others in our community.