News & Updates

Spotlight on Holly Brenner

Holly Brenner was featured in the SPAC Spotlight for the November 2019 Envision Initiative Newsletter. To view the full newsletter, click here.

Holly Brenner

Holly Brenner, Regional Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Foundations for SSM Health of Wisconsin, has been involved with the Envision Initiative since its inception when it was a community project as part of the Leadership Fond du Lac program. She’s played leadership and supportive roles with many projects related to the Envision Initiative. We invite you to learn more about Holly’s involvement below.

How did you get involved in the Envision Initiative?

The idea for Envision Fond du Lac was born out of our Leadership Fond du Lac class of 2014 team project (Scott Brutosky, Jamie Cleland, Chris Serres, Dawn Gadicke, Kim Mueller, Holly Brenner). Though it was admittedly a “boil the ocean” plan, and arguably more than a team should take on as a Leadership Fond du Lac project, we persevered. The idea gained quick support from various agencies and key stakeholder groups within our community. We knew we were on to something that would be worth investing our time in.

The idea continued to gain momentum. Based on our meetings with many community leaders, a common theme emerged. The need for a united, long-term vision really took hold. While most companies and agencies we met with already had strategic plans and were working toward a desirable outcome in accordance with their own mission, leaders agreed that from a community standpoint, there was a gap.

Our community has a long history of creating meaningful partnerships. This time was no exception. United by a common vision, a diverse group of community stakeholders came together to fund the launch of what’s known today as the Envision Initiative. Per our consultant partner, Houseal Lavigne, it was extremely unusual for a community to come together the way we did. In their assessment, our collaborative approach to this work put us in a great position to realize sustainable change within our community.

What success(es) of the Envision Initiative make(s) you the most excited or encouraged?

There have been quite a few! But, to be clear, nothing that happens through the Envision Initiative is solely because of the Initiative. This is community work. Our area communities weighed in on what was important and identified the things that would make our Greater Fond du Lac Region even better in the mid and long term. The successes we’ve seen are thanks to the countless individuals, agencies, government and organizations that have contributed to the lift. 

The thing that has made me most encouraged so far, is the coming together of two great organizations – the Fond du Lac Area Association of Commerce and the Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corporation – to form Envision Greater Fond du Lac. Over the past two decades, there had been several attempts to bring these organizations together in the interest of providing even more positive impact to our communities. The conversation was afoot again and, for a variety of reasons, the timing was right for this change to happen.

But, the most DELICIOUS Envision Initiative activity that I’ve seen so far is the Pop Up Crepe Café. That was AWESOME!!

What would you like the greater community to know about the Envision Initiative?

One of the best things about the Envision Initiative, in my opinion, is that it was created by an extremely broad representation community members. For example, we spent time in 5th grade classrooms, board rooms, factory floors and with the poor and marginalized within our community to truly understand what our community looks like today to better shape our plan for the future.  

Literally hundreds of people weighed in on what they would like to see happen within our community over the next 10-20 years. We know what “better” looks like at this point. Focusing efforts and resources on three big challenges: growing our economy and cultivating entrepreneurship, strengthening our sense of community, and investing in our youth and young professionals will enable us to keep what’s already great about our community while also achieving our vision for the future.

To be successful in fulfilling the vision that we collectively created, we all need to pitch in and help from where we are.

No individual or organization, agency or governing body owns this work in total, but we have seen the greatest successes when someone owns a specific project and commits to moving it forward. There is much work to be done to achieve the vision that our community aspires to, but it is fun work and the reward is an even better place for us all to live, work and play! If a specific item in the plan speaks to you, jump in! YOU can make a difference!