What are the 2023 Women to Watch Up To?

By Shayna Mace | Photography by Hillary Schave

Ann Catlett

Catlett is the founder of Solace Friends, a nonprofit that provides end-of-life care to people who are housing insecure, impoverished or don’t have family to turn to. In 2023, volunteers spent more than 800 hours renovating and updating the nonprofit’s first end-of-life home, in preparation for its projected opening in January 2024.

Read her story here.

Diane Hanson

Hanson launched her United Madison “Dose of Unity” podcast in 2023, and its 12 episodes tackle a variety of issues. In December, the nonprofit received a $10,000 grant from 100 Women Who Care, and they’re donating a portion of it to Jevon Diming’s Pierre Outreach Safe Home.

Read her story here.

Karen Laing

Laing founded Okkanti, a website for birth-industry professionals to connect and share resources. In October 2023, she launched CareFinder within Okkanti, which allows pregnant and parenting people in five states to find vetted providers in their listings or book a free consult. Laing also hopes to launch a pilot program with a major Midwest health insurance provider this year.

Read her story here.

Michelle McGrath

As project coordinator for the Waunakee Community Cares Coalition (WCCC), McGrath welcomed 52 new members in 2023. She also kicked off the Students Empowering Each Other program — another new WCCC offering. McGrath is also working on a leadership summit to encourage youth to “find their ensemble” and build connections with peers.

Read her story here.

Alyson Schaefer

Mental Fitness 4 Teens continues to hold regular retreats for teens in the Dane County area. Schaefer also implemented her new Rise, Inclusion, Support and Educate (RISE) program within a fourth-grade classroom, and is looking to expand it in 2024.

Read her story here.

Megan Sollenberger

In 2023, The Village Diaper Bank expanded to Columbia County, distributed 1.3 million diapers (as of press time) and added five new partner agencies to their distribution network. In 2024, the nonprofit is building out a cloth diaper program and launching a period supply program.

Read her story here.

Mercury Stardust

In 2023, Stardust and her team raised over $2.25 million for trans healthcare through Point of Pride. She also released her book “Safe & Sound: A Renter-Friendly Guide to Home Repair,” which became a #1 New York Times Best Seller, and she went on a 52-city book tour. She plans to raise $4 million for Point of Pride in 2024.

Read her story here.

Rosa Thompson

Black Girl Magic Educational Services (BGM) partnered with six Black women-owned organizations in 2023 to introduce new programming. The organization hired four new facilitators to lead BGM groups in Madison schools, and hopefully other school districts, in 2024. BGM is continuing to hire leaders, especially for middle school.

Read her story here.

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