2021 Spirit of the Midwest Honorees

Each year, the WICT Midwest Chapter recognizes four outstanding chapter members who have made an extraordinary contribution to our industry through volunteerism, technology, and leadership. Congratulations to our 2021 award nominees. You should be proud of your accomplishments.

Chapter Volunteer of the Year

This award recognizes an individual who has shown exemplary volunteer support for WICT Midwest in 2020.  This leader should show dedication to volunteering/serving to help grow the Midwest Chapter and inspire others in the community.

Wendy Thebeau
Program Manager, Charter Communications

Wendy Thebeau

Nominated by: Ian Poertner
Sr. Director, Charter Communications

How does the nominee fits each of the desired qualifications and eligibilities listed for the award?

Wendy has been in the industry for a number of years, but I am not sure how many. While not in a position of leadership by title, she has lead the Women in Technology committee for Charter and done an amazing job of regularly putting together quarterly presentations for members that have added a lot of value to a large number of people.

How does the nominee exhibit the WICT Touchstones of Leadership? (Know Yourself. Communicate. Listen. Be a Catalyst. Be Fearless. Inspire.)

Wendy leverages other members of the Women in Technology committee to support her in areas where she feels she has gaps in her own ability. She is honest and up front about that. She manages to work with each team member to support meeting goals in a timely while understanding and responding to roadblocks they may encounter. She also pushes team members to get engaged in areas they may not feel comfortable in while leading by example tackling items she herself considers her own areas to improve.

How has the nominee has made a meaningful contribution to the cable telecommunications industry?

Wendy has been leading the Women in Technology committee to regularly pull together presentations on topics affecting women in the industry such as how to lead, leading versus managing, and how to cope with working from home during challenging times.

Why do you believe the nominee has earned the award you are nominating them for?

Wendy really works hard to support women in technology with little to no thanks, certainly no financial gain, and minimal impact to her career advancement.

 


Woman in Technology

This award recognizes an industry woman serving in a technical position who has contributed significantly to her organization as well as the cable and telecommunications industry.  In addition to her technical expertise, she is a valued team member who is committed to supporting and motivating others.

Tara Mueller
Web Applications Manager, Midco

Tara MuellerNominated by: Amanda Potter
Social Media Manager, Midco

How does the nominee fits each of the desired qualifications and eligibilities listed for the award?

Tara has worked for Midco as the Web Applications Manager for six years. In this role, she oversees Midco’s residential, business and Midco Sports websites, the company’s intranet, and Midco’s mobile app strategy and development.

How does the nominee exhibit the WICT Touchstones of Leadership? (Know Yourself. Communicate. Listen. Be a Catalyst. Be Fearless. Inspire.)

Tara leads a small but mighty team of software developers who are responsible for the website experience for the approximately 9,000 daily visitors. She has to listen to and communicate with diverse stakeholders companywide, as well as vendors, in order to keep major projects moving forward – as well as maintain day-to-day operations! She is unafraid to make recommendations to leadership about technologies and practices we need to employ. At the same time, she welcomes and encourages everyone’s ideas. She leads innovative projects that make big differences externally and internally – for example, creating and implementing a single sign-on API for customers across multiple Midco systems to streamline and improve customer experience. She has also been a catalyst for adding customer response channels so that customers can reach support using their preferred method – such as web chat, SMS, or Apple Business Chat. Finally, Tara oversees a diverse group of developers, and inspires them to be a connected, cohesive, innovative team that truly cares about one another – as well as the work they do.

How has the nominee has made a meaningful contribution to the cable telecommunications industry?

Tara’s commitment to Midco’s customers and to finding a way to improve, upgrade, and streamline systems has brought Midco’s user experience into the 21st century. Thanks to the work of Tara and her team, Midco’s customers can do everything from sign up for services to get support with the click of a button or tap on a smartphone screen.

Why do you believe the nominee has earned the award you are nominating them for?

Tara’s can-do spirit, fearless leadership, and passion for innovation has made a big difference for Midco, our customers, and beyond. At a time when the digital user experience is becoming more and more important, Tara has streamlined and improved user experience both internally and externally – helping Midco provide vital services to our customers.

 


Rising Leader Award

This award recognizes an industry woman, considered a newcomer to the industry, who has demonstrated her own personal leadership style and has become accomplished in both her job and in her working knowledge of the cable and/or telecommunications industry.

Eligibility:

  • Must exhibit the Touchstones of Leadership – Know Yourself, Communicate, Listen, Be a Catalyst, Be Fearless, and Inspire.

and meet one of the following:

  • Recipient will have been in the industry for less than five years.

-OR-

  • Changed career paths/business fields within the past two years (e.g. from marketing to operations).

-OR-

  • Received a promotion within the last year to the manager level.

 

Melissa Wolf
Government Relations Manager, Midco

Melissa WolfNominated by: Andrew Curly
Director of Government Relations, Midco

How does the nominee fits each of the desired qualifications and eligibilities listed for the award?

Melissa has been in the industry for less than 2 years.

How does the nominee exhibit the WICT Touchstones of Leadership? (Know Yourself. Communicate. Listen. Be a Catalyst. Be Fearless. Inspire.)

Melissa truly exhibits all of the Touchstones of Leadership. Two Touchstones stand out, in particular: Connect and Be Fearless. She has developed tremendous connections within Midco, across multiple departments, in her 18 months with the company. This is particularly impressive considering for all but 1 month of her tenure she has been working remotely due to the pandemic. In addition, Melissa has gone above and beyond to connect with others across our industry. She has developed a great working relationship with our industry government relations partners involved with MCCA and was eager to join and get involved with WICT as soon as the opportunity was presented. Melissa has also been Fearless in her time with Midco. She came to Midco with a great background in government and politics, but had no experience in the telecommunications industry. In an unprecedented time for our industry’s involvement with government initiatives, Melissa has taken the bull by the horns and become an invaluable leader for Midco, far exceeding the goals and expectations set out for her. Midco is has been very active growing our footprint in Minnesota, with both private capital investments and public-private partnerships. Melissa has been placed at the forefront of these efforts given the required coordination with state and local governments. She has led these endeavors with poise and determination.

How has the nominee has made a meaningful contribution to the cable telecommunications industry?

Melissa has worked diligently with our industry partners to represent both Midco and the entire industry well within the State Capitol in Minnesota. When a Senate Committee hearing on rural broadband deployment in Minnesota was convened, they sought a testifier to offer a providers perspective. Despite being in the industry less than a year, Melissa stepped up to testify and her presentation was met with rave reviews within Midco, within the industry, and by our legislative allies. She communicated the Midco story, specifically, and industry story, generally, with great ease, as if she had been representing our industry for years, not months. Our industry can face scrutiny at times from government officials and telling our story as well as Melissa did goes a long way toward developing and maintaining a positive image with these officials.

Why do you believe the nominee has earned the award you are nominating them for?

The very phrase “Rising Leader” perfectly describes Melissa and how she is viewed at Midco. In a very short time, she has gone from a new team member to a trusted leader, taking on several important initiatives for the company. She has already accomplished a lot in her time in our industry, including representing Midco well during legislative session and successfully navigating the franchising process for dozens of greenfield expansions Midco is pursuing in Minnesota. She has an extremely bright future ahead of her as she continues to grow and lead.

 


Spirit of the Midwest

This award recognizes an industry woman who has made significant contributions to the cable and telecommunications industry throughout her career, serves as a mentor and role model for others, exhibits leadership qualities that have made a difference in her organization, is a risk taker and a groundbreaker, and inspires others.  This woman is highly regarded by her peers and teammates for career accomplishments and quality of work-life balance.

Maryann Eastman
Director, NOC Metrics & Reporting, Charter Communications

Maryann EastmanNominated by: Karen Zumwalt
Sr. Manager, Network Operations, Charter Communications

How does the nominee fits each of the desired qualifications and eligibilities listed for the award?

Maryann has held numerous positions within several different telecommunications companies for over 15 years. Maryann is currently a Director of NOC Metrics and Reporting for Charter Communications. Maryann has the touchstones hanging in her office, and lives each one in her daily work life, and personal life.

How does the nominee exhibit the WICT Touchstones of Leadership? (Know Yourself. Communicate. Listen. Be a Catalyst. Be Fearless. Inspire.)

Maryann embraces the WICT touchstones and demonstrates them in her daily interactions with team members, peers, and leadership. Maryann shows the KNOW YOURSELF touchstone by allowing others to see that she is strong, capable, and knows where she wants to go in the future. She is always looking at opportunities for professional and person growth. Maryann has an exceptional ability to COMMUNICATE, and does so with individual contributors to CEOs with skill and style. By using the LISTEN touchstone, she has an increased perception of others and is able to use those observations to CONNECT in ways that not everyone can accomplish. Maryann is a CATALYST for change and improvement in processes regarding her team, the department, the organization, and the industry. By her ability to BE FEARLESS, Maryann has led initiatives to launch several new programs and metrics for performance measurement to push for the success of the organization. Maryann definitely knows how to INSPIRE those around her to push for better opportunities and ways to improve, and is a constant supporter of women in the telecommunications industry.

How has the nominee has made a meaningful contribution to the cable telecommunications industry?

Through Maryann’s efforts at Charter, the way NOC performance is measured and reported has made a huge difference and has opened doors and the eyes of leadership to opportunities for improvement that were hidden or missed in the past. She is also showing executive leadership the value and benefit of strong analytics and what a difference they can make to the bottom line.

Why do you believe the nominee has earned the award you are nominating them for?

I believe that Maryann embodies WICT in her daily actions, applications of the touchstones, and her drive for success. She is paving the way for future generations of women to come into this industry and be bold enough to make a difference.

 


2020 Winners

Volunteer of the Year - Debra Malick; Rising Leader - Emilie Gragert; Woman in Technology - Amber Schwiesow; Spirit of the Midwest - Trish McCann

2019 Winners

Volunteer of the Year - Lauren Ray; Rising Leader - Tera Dubs; Woman in Technology - Maryann Eastman; Spirit of the Midwest - Jenny Massey

2018 Winners

Volunteer of the Year - Katie LoRusso; Rising Leader - Sydney Smith; Woman in Technology - Julie Bent; Spirit of the Midwest - Lisa Neuwirth

2017 Winners

Rising Leader – Tara Anderson; Woman in Technology – Marsha Gee; Spirit of the Midwest – Kimberly Noetzel

2016 Winners

Rising Leader – Jada Marcotte; Woman in Technology – Erin Hayes; Spirit of the Midwest – Pamela Hermann

2015 Winners

Rising Leader – Lisa Shea; Woman in Technology – Andrea Wegley; Spirit of the Midwest – Melissa Morris

2014 Winners

Rising Leader – Sally West; Woman in Technology – Ginni Hartley; Spirit of the Midwest – Theresa Sunde

2013 Winners

Rising Leader – Katie Atkinson; Woman in Technology – Julie Sparlin; Spirit of the Midwest – Jean Edhlund

%d bloggers like this: