2012-2021 Women to Watch: Where Are They Now

By Shayna Mace

Since BRAVA Magazine launched Women to Watch in 2012, we’ve honored 207 Women to Watch as of 2022. Here’s what some of our past Women to Watch have been up to.

2012

JULIA ARATA-FRATTA

What she was doing then: As the president of the board of directors for the Latino Chamber of Commerce, Arata-Fratta was working to bolster new and existing Latin-run businesses.
What she’s up to now: In 2015, Arata- Fratta left the Latino Chamber and was elected to the Fitchburg City Council, where she is currently serving her fourth term as District 2 alder. In 2020, she became president of the council. (Her day job is with Wegner CPAs.) She is also the board treasurer for the Overture Foundation and the Madison Region Economic Partnership.
What are you most proud of? “I am very proud of being the first Latina to be elected in the City of Fitchburg and of my public service commitment to Fitchburg residents,” says Arata-Fratta.

FRANCES HUNTLEY-COOPER

What she was doing then: Huntley-Cooper was the first African American board chair of Madison College and was a political trailblazer before that, serving as the first (and still only) Black mayor in Wisconsin’s history with the City of Fitchburg from 1991 to 1993.
What’s she up to now: She continues to serve as a board member at Madison College, and in November 2021, a proposal was put forth to rename Fitchburg City Hall to the Frances Huntley-Cooper Municipal Building. Stay tuned.

2013

LILADA GEE

What she was doing then: Gee was recognized for founding Lilada’s Livingroom, a healing organization for girls and women who are sexual abuse survivors.
What she’s up to now: Gee, who is a sexual abuse survivor herself, also founded Black Women Heal, a Madison- based nonprofit that creates a safe place for Black girls. In 2020, she launched the “Defending Black Girlhood” podcast where she discusses her advocacy for Black girls. And, she’s a prolific artist in the area — many of her works popped up in the murals downtown on State Street in 2020, and she continues to sell her artwork.

CHARLENE MOUILLE

What she was doing then: As district director of Junior Achievement of Wisconsin for Dane and Rock counties, Mouille worked on increasing financial literacy in young people.
What she’s up to now: In 2014, she joined the United Way of Wisconsin and 211 Wisconsin as its executive director. Mouille says she partners with the state’s 40 local United Ways that work in the areas of improving education, financial stability and health outcomes across the state.
What W2W meant to her: “There are a tremendous number of women that I admire and strive to emulate in the Madison area. It was an honor to be recognized and I feel it helped me to gain confidence in a fairly new leadership
position,” says Mouille.
What’s she up to now: She continues to serve as a board member at Madison College, and in November 2021, a proposal was put forth to rename Fitchburg City Hall to the Frances Huntley-Cooper Municipal Building. Stay tuned.

2014

CARLA PUGH

What she was doing then: Two years into her career with the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Pugh was a surgeon, vice chairman of education and patient safety and clinical director of the simulation program at UW Health.
What she’s up to now: In 2018, Pugh joined her Ph.D. alma mater, Stanford University, as its professor of surgery
and director of the Technology Enabled Clinical Improvement Center. Her overarching goal is using technology to change and improve medical and surgery education. More than 200 medical and nursing schools use her patented sensor enabled training tools, and she has received numerous awards and recognition for her innovative work.

2015

NASRA WEHELIE

What she was doing then: Wehelie founded Muslim Youth for Madison, a group that brought together adolescents for recreational, spiritual, educational and charitable activities.
What she’s up to now:  In 2020, Wehelie started Empathy 4 Equity, LLC, a company that helps businesses build a culture of empathy for “organizational excellence through a structured social change process,” she says. Since fall 2020, she’s served as the District 7 alder for the City of Madison.

2016

CORINDA RAINEY-MOORE

What was she doing then: Rainey-Moore was honored for her work as outreach and engagement coordinator with the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families. Her list of contributions to the Madison community have been vast, serving in other leadership positions.
What she’s up to now: As UnityPoint Health-Meriter’s community engagement manager, she focuses on external engagement and community health needs. She also launched a girls leadership program called Queens Leadership Academy. The initiative works with high school girls, teaching them leadership development skills, with the goal of them mentoring their younger peers in middle school.
In 2019, she was awarded the MLK Humanitarian Award from Gov. Evers.
What W2W meant to her: “It meant that I was being recognized among some amazing women doing amazing work. It was both an honor and a privilege to be able to do the work that is needed in the community with folks that need it the most,” says Rainey-Moore.

MARILYN RUFFIN

What was she doing then: After a 20-plus year career in electrical engineering, Ruffin was elected to the Sun Prairie Schools’ Board of Education (and the first person of color to serve on the board).
What she’s up to now: Ruffin joined One City Schools, a Madison-based charter school, in 2017 as its vice president of family and community initiatives. Within this role, she spearheads school programs and develops partnerships, among many other things.
What W2W meant to her: “At the time, I was just honored to be amongst other powerful women. I vowed to myself then that I will step up more, get out of my comfort zone and make a bigger impact in my community and across Wisconsin,” says Ruffin.

2017

WENONA WOLF

What she was doing then: Communications and development manager for the Wisconsin Council for Children and Families, as well as serving on the boards of various local organizations.
What she’s up to now: Wolf is Gov. Tony Evers’ deputy director of external affairs, continuing her work in championing inclusion and community-building. In 2017, she was recognized as a “Native American 40 Under 40” by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development in Tulalip, Wash.

2018

ALEKSANDRA ZGIERSKA

What was she doing then: A researcher, assistant professor and physician with UW-Madison’s Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Zgierska was working in the addiction field. Two of her studies and initiatives were aimed at treating people for drug addictions instead of incarcerating them, as well as how therapies and mindfulness might reduce dependency.
What she’s up to now: Now at Penn State, Zgierska is continuing her work on addiction — her meditation-based mindfulness study suggested that it could work as a promising therapy for chronic pain.

MONIQUE MINKENS

What was she doing then: In an effort to cut down the waitlist for emergency shelter beds maintained by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Services organization, Minkens created programming that aimed at lowering the number of repeat clients, so that the people they served would have more stability in their lives. The program addressed housing, mental health, financial literacy and substance abuse.
What’s she up to now: In 2019, Minkens joined End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin and became its executive director in May 2021.

2019

CRISTIN INCITTI

What she was doing then: Chief operating officer for Girl Scouts of Wisconsin-Badgerland Council.
What she’s up to now: Incitti is now CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota, a statewide organization advancing affordable homeownership in Minnesota. “I work, every day, to make our nation’s greatest wealth building opportunity, homeownership, more accessible for low and moderate income and BIPOC households through Habitat’s work,” says Incitti.
How W2W catapulted her career: “Going through the W2W process helped me solidify my passion for affordable housing. Being recognized through the W2W process was an incredible honor and I believe the work I’m doing today is reflective of what the W2W recognition is all about — leading to make our communities stronger and better for everyone,” says Incitti.

AMY GANNON

In memoriam: Gannon was co-founder of Doyenne Group with Heather Wentler. In December 2019, Gannon, along with her daughter, was tragically killed in a helicopter crash on a family vacation in Hawaii. The Madison community mourned her loss, and honored her contributions to the business and entrepreneurial community. Gannon said about Doyenne back in 2019: “Our mission became clear — build ecosystems where women entrepreneurs from all backgrounds can thrive.”

2020

HEIDI DUSS

What she was doing then: Duss was with Summit Credit Union as the manager of diversity and inclusion, wellness and community engagement.
What she’s up to now: In 2020, Duss founded her own business called Culturescape Consulting, a nationally certified LGBTQ+ owned business that helps employers build strategies towards gender equity, LGBTQ+ inclusion and intersectional allyship. She also started Bridging Belonging, an online group of inclusion-focused individuals who want to do better in life, community and work. She also serves as an ambassador with the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce and president of OPEN Madison, a professional engagement network.
What W2W meant to her: “‘Empowered women, empower women,’ and as a Woman to Watch, I have paid this honor forward to two other amazing leaders who are striving to create more equitable and inclusive spaces in their community and business,” says Duss.

SHELIA STUBBS

What she was doing then: Stubbs wore many hats, including pastor, community activist, Dane County Board District Supervisor and a State Representative.
What she’s up to now: In October 2021, she introduced the Birth Equity Act, which is a package of legislation that works to reduce racial disparities in child and maternal health. Stubbs also serves as chairwoman of the Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus and as the co-chair of the Speaker’s Taskforce on Racial Disparities.
What W2W meant to her: “Being a W2W in 2020 was a distinguished honor that connected me to so many other strong, ambitious and trailblazing women in our community. Being placed alongside a diverse set of leaders strengthened my drive to serve the State of Wisconsin,” says Stubbs.

2021

KRISTIE GOFORTH

What she was doing then: Executive director of Free Bikes 4 Kidz Madison, a nonprofit that provides bikes to underserved populations in Dane County, as well as serving on the Monona City Council.
What she’s up to now: In May 2021, Goforth says Free Bikes 4 Kidz achieved their highest number of 2,026 bikes given away to low-income and diverse communities — even during a nationwide bike shortage.
She also ran for the Mayor of Monona in April 2021. “While I did not win the election, I truly believe there is no losing when you run for office, only doors opened. Numerous opportunities have come my way since then and life is more exciting than ever.”
What W2W meant to her: “I think women tend to doubt their skills and struggle with being confident because it’s often perceived as arrogance. This acknowledgement has substantiated my belief in myself and validated that my skills do indeed contribute to making our community a better place to be for all people,” says Goforth.

CAROL CARLSON

What she was doing then: Executive director of Music con Brio, an after- school instrumental music program.
What she’s up to now: In May 2021, Music con Brio students recorded four pieces by Black composers, collaborating with four local Black artists, including Alida LaCosse, who was the Madison Area Music Awards 2021 Teacher of the Year. Music con Brio also received the 2021 the Dane Arts Blockstein Award for their 10th Annual Community Concert Series.

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