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Board of Directors and Advisors

Marianne Cotter


Being involved in social justice has always been a part of my ministry as a United Methodist pastor. About five years ago, shortly after starting to serve First United Methodist in Baraboo, I sensed God calling me to do something about climate change. In the summer of 2015, Todd Persche and I led a community-wide discussion on Bill McKibben's book “Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.” That group evolved into a monthly climate change discussion group that became Powered Up Baraboo in August, 2019. I am grateful to be working with others to move towards a carbon-neutral future for Baraboo/Sauk County. In my spare time I enjoy cooking, riding my ebike, contemplative prayer, and spending time with my spouse Jim.

Beth Persche


My family has called the Baraboo area home for the past 26 years. Along with raising our two children within Baraboo’s School District, I’ve been involved in many aspects of the community. Currently, I sit on the board of the Carnegie-Schadde Memorial Public Library and am also a member of the Baraboo Economic Development Commission. Over the years, I’ve felt an increasing sense of alarm from the escalating climate crisis. Discussions with friends and family have made it clear that many of us feel hopeless and overwhelmed by this news. It has been gratifying being part of Powered Up Baraboo from its inception and working with fellow community members dedicated to promoting sustainable practices. I have seen firsthand what our close-knit community can do when working together and am heartened by the can-do attitude exhibited by Powered Up Baraboo. A wise person once said that the antidote to despair is action, and I’ve certainly found that to be true in my life.

David Kell


Just living is an adventure for me. I have always wanted to make a difference in our world and in the spot where I am living. Powered Up Baraboo is an exciting group that works together to accomplish a great deal more than I ever could do alone. Edward Everett Hale said , "I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything; but still I can do something." I believe time is running out on our planet and its climate as we know it. Just maybe we can make a difference and turn things around. My wife, Barbara, and I are retired and enjoy living on Lake Wisconsin. I love fishing, hunting, canoeing, boating, gardening and supporting groups dedicated to improving life anywhere. I am active in the Baraboo First United Methodist Church and Lake Wisconsin Alliance which along with Powered Up Baraboo help make a difference.

Joan Wheeler


I have an abiding interest in sustainable living. In the early 2000s, this interest led me to help with various community projects, including developing a school rain garden, organizing a local initiative to encourage kids to bike and walk to school, and organizing educational forums on wind power, manure digesters, and plasma waste conversion. More recently, I have been involved in developing public library programs on preserving water resources, sustainable gardening, and a conservation film festival. In each of these endeavors, I have had the privilege of working with experts in conservation and environmental sustainability. I believe it is this expertise, coupled with local grassroots citizen action in communities around the country, which will make real inroads in fighting climate change at the local level, and influence decision makers to wake up to the need for action at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

Lena Nissley


As a person who has only lived in Baraboo since the year 2000, I sometimes still feel like a newcomer! My husband and I moved here with a small child and another one on the way. We now have 2 adult children who grew up here, went to the Baraboo schools and consider Baraboo their hometown. This place has been good to us. I increasingly feel that my being part of this community means giving back to it in any way that I can. I have always lived in the Midwest and despite the occasional longing to travel to parts unknown, I consider myself lucky to live here. I love living in a four-season place and watching how the world around us changes throughout the year, whether it be in the hills around Baraboo or in my own backyard. My joining Powered Up Baraboo is a way for me to feel more connected to my community. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the climate or what needs to be done to move our community forward in a sustainable way, but I do think it’s time to learn. My hope for this group is to promote learning and spread understanding and connection in our community in a way that feels inclusive and hopeful.

Judy Spring


Growing up, I spent much of my time out of doors with lots of fresh air, room to roam, trees to climb, and animals to watch. Within my lifetime, I've seen what happens to local air, water and land quality as the result of careless disregard for the next generation. "Ethics" to me means showing that I understand that my personal actions affect others, now and in the future. Powered Up Baraboo is a way to close the commitment gap between what we say we will do and what we need to do to prevent dangerous levels of climate change, including decreased dependence on fossil fuels. Photo credit: Deb Gerencser

Rick Eilertson


My family and I have had a close connection to the Baraboo Area for nearly 80 years. I grew up in the Town of Merrimac on a farm that my grandfather and his siblings purchased in 1946 following the end of World War II. My wife Yenti and I met in 1992 on a blind date, paddling down the Baraboo River and have been falling in love with each other and the Baraboo Area ever since. I graduated in 1993 from UW-Madison earning a Civil & Environmental Engineering degree and a certificate degree in Environmental Studies. In 1995, we bought our current home on First Street in Baraboo and married a month later. We’ve enjoyed fixing up our 1896 Victorian home and making it more energy efficient each year, while trying to maintain as much of its historic integrity as we can. I’ve been working with AECOM since 2017, and have enjoyed cutting my previous work commutes of up to 180 minutes per day down to ~2 minutes per day (working in my home office). This extra time has allowed me to give back even more time to the Baraboo area by volunteering for non-profit groups like Friends of the Baraboo River, Kiwanis, Rotary and, most importantly, Powered Up Baraboo.

Carl Rosenstock


I moved to Baraboo in June 2008. This is when the 500-year flood occurred. The reality of what this meant moved me to begin signing petitions, especially involving the Climate Crisis issue. I proceeded to sign over 50,000 petitions. I learned through educating myself that the climate issue was already extreme. This had become a primary focus of our non-profit I have joined and am actively involved in supporting local climate groups, as well as several groups online. I am a proud member of Powered Up Baraboo and look forward to what we will be accomplishing in Baraboo. My passion is to work with young people around these issues. I have the good fortune to be involved with three of these groups whose purpose is about mitigating the suffering of all life on our precious planet Earth.

David Wernecke


I had the privilege of being Executive Director for the Baraboo Range Preservation Association from 2001 to 2013. The job is a front row seat for watching how a rapidly changing climate is affecting our local quality of life for both human and natural communities. I want to bring together deeply concerned citizens interested in addressing this crisis, understanding that we have little time left to build a healthier carbon neutral future. Years working in conservation has taught me that action is the great counter to despair, so please join us. Photo credit: Deb Gerencser

Haley Ryan


Social Justice has always been a passion; calling me to action since I was a young girl. Upon returning to school to finish my Bachelors Degree in Sustainable Management, I learned about Environmental Justice and how crucial it is for stability in our world. I believe every living thing has a right to clean air, water, and soil. We must take into consideration future generations of all walks of life when finding solutions for current issues. Originally from Milwaukee, I enjoyed growing up minutes from Lake Michigan and spent countless hours at the shore and surrounding woods. I moved to Baraboo 8 years ago and have since started a family. We enjoy the charm and natural beauty Baraboo has to offer. I am excited for this opportunity to promote and expand sustainable practices in the Baraboo area.

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