Graduate Social Innovation & Sustainability Leadership

The first place-based, face-to-face social innovation and sustainability leadership MA program in the nation.

We believe the purpose of leadership is to co-create well-being in ourselves, our workplaces and in our communities through bridging the three divides.*

  1. The divide between self and our highest potential. How do we become the most effective leader possible and co-create well-being in our organizations and communities?
  2. The divide between self and others. How do we strengthen relationship with other individuals and groups so that we can have a more equitable and inclusive world.
  3. The divide between self and nature. How do we create organizational, social, and economic systems that are in harmony with natural systems?

*Adapted from the work of the Presencing Institute


Program Description

The Social Innovation & Sustainability Leadership Graduate Program Is ...

In the Social Innovation & Sustainability Leadership graduate program, you will join a cohort of no more than 18 students from a broad range of professional fields and academic backgrounds. Together, you will develop the leadership skills, knowledge, and mindset to effect social innovation and systems change. Students undertake a social innovation project related to their area of interest. Courses accommodate both full-time students, as well as working professionals. 

Our interactive classes leverage the breadth and depth of expertise in the region including guest speakers, group projects, hands-on activities, and field trips. Collaborate with community organizations, businesses, government agencies, and other partners to make a positive impact while gaining experience and expanding your network. 

We provide the skills and network to transform ...

Passion to Action
Learn through an action-oriented curriculum to apply skills and knowledge to create systemic change. You will learn to recognize the entry points for cross-sector collaboration and lead the development of innovative solutions to social and/or environmental challenges in communities and organizations. While working with a diverse network of practitioners, professors, and peers, you will develop the professional relationships necessary to support the work of effecting deep systems change. Students undertake individual or group social innovation projects in each core course.

Action to Results
As a student, you will:
  • Develop your leadership strengths
  • Identify the opportunities for partnerships
  • Learn methods for inclusively engaging stakeholders
  • Identify high impact approaches to pushing dominant systems in new directions
  • Co-create innovative ideas to apply to community projects that have measurable results
  • Develop a professional network for growth and support
  • Form strong bonds with a supportive cohort of fellow students

Program Options

Master of Arts in Social Innovation & Sustainability Leadership

Students can complete their 33-credit Master’s Degree in as few as 17 months, depending on full or part-time status and course load. The first three courses (12 credits) of the program (SUST 650, SUST 651, and SUST 652) are based on the cohort model where students move through all three classes together. There are an additional three required courses (9 credits), including the capstone course. In addition to these required courses, students take 12 elective credits from a wide range of offerings allowing students to tailor their degree to their area of interest. All course offerings accommodate the schedules of working professionals. See Course Descriptions for details. You are welcome to meet with the Program Director, Steve Gilchrist, to consider your path to complete a Master's Degree.

Accelerated Master's Pathway

Undergraduate students have the opportunity to begin a Master of Arts in Social Innovation & Sustainability Leadership while completing their bachelor's degree. The Accelerated Master's Pathway allows students who are juniors or seniors, and who have the consent of their advisor, to take 12 credits (3 courses) of the Social Innovation and Sustainability Leadership Master's Program in order to earn a Master of Arts within one year of completing an undergraduate degree. These 12 credits can count as electives for an undergraduate major or minor while fulfilling the first three required courses of the graduate program. The courses are: Sustainable Development Leadership (SUST 650), Ecological Sustainability and Social Innovation (SUST 651), and Social and Economic Sustainability (SUST 652). For more information, contact your undergraduate advisor or Stephan Gilchrist, Social Innovation and Sustainability Leadership Graduate Program Director at or 608-663-6991.

Graduate Certificate in Social Innovation & Sustainability Leadership

The Social Innovation and Sustainability Leadership Graduate Certificate allows students to expand their knowledge, leadership skills and network while completing social innovation and sustainability projects related to their area of interest. Students come from a wide range of fields, including nonprofit and corporate management, economic development, education, local government, public health, energy and utilities, regional planning and design, hospitality, religious service, and more. A sequence of 3 classes (SUST 650, SUST 651, SUST 652) is completed in 10 months. See Course Descriptions for details.

Community Fellowship, Social Innovation & Sustainability Leadership

Working professionals with significant experience in a particular area of social innovation, leadership, and sustainability can apply for a Community Fellowship in Social Innovation and Sustainability Leadership. This mutually enriching arrangement lets the Fellow share expertise with other program participants while receiving the framework and support to complete a significant social innovation and sustainability project. The Community Fellowship role combines traditional roles of participants as students and instructors, with more flexible roles of participants as teacher/learners, community partners, mentors and servant-leaders. Community Fellows receive a certificate of completion for participating in the program but do not earn graduate credit. They pay a reduced program cost. Fellows may be sponsored by an organization (e.g., their employer) that in turn benefits from the professional development and community engagement of the Fellow and from recognition as a supporter of sustainability in the larger community. 

MA in Education with a Social Innovation & Sustainability Leadership Concentration

Educators and schools are an integral part of any sustainable community, and teachers are increasingly looking to incorporate sustainability concepts throughout their curriculum. Edgewood College offers an MA in Education with a concentration in Social Innovation & Sustainability Leadership to support teachers in their growth as sustainability leaders in their classrooms. Teachers can integrate their projects directly into their lessons, curriculum or larger school- or district-wide initiatives.

Continuing Education Courses

The drive towards social innovation and sustainability leadership can emerge from within a range of professional and personal contexts and according to individual timelines. Are you ready to hone your leadership skills or bring a new level of focus to your team around today’s complex challenges?  In collaboration with Edgewood College and leading-edge partner organizations, SISL faculty and instructors have designed courses to support you in your journey. We welcome alumni, students, friends and community members to explore social innovation and sustainability leadership topics such as mindful leadership, design thinking, participatory leadership, and much more.

Course Descriptions

Master of Arts in Social Innovation & Sustainability Leadership

A total of 33 credits is required to complete the Master of Arts in Social Innovation and Sustainability Leadership.

Required Courses (21 credits):

  • (SUST 650) Foundations: Leadership for Social Innovation and Sustainability (4 credits)
    2020 Dates: 4-day immersion course - Thurs. Aug. 6th - Sun. Aug. 9th (9a.m-8p.m. Thurs.-Sat.; 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sun.)
    This course provides the foundation for the Social Innovation and Sustainability Leadership Program. It creates a community of reflective learners that support each other in becoming effective social entrepreneurs and sustainability change agents. We introduce foundational leadership frameworks and tools such as Theory U, Emotional Intelligence and Diversity, Systems Thinking, Just Sustainabilities, Design Thinking, Collective Impact, Social Entrepreneurship, and several others. We visit with local, national, and global changemakers to learn how they are applying social innovation and sustainability leadership. The course also explores relationships among sustainability, economic development, and social equity. Students begin to explore and identify a social innovation project they wish to implement in SUST 651.
  • (SUST 651) Self and Natural Systems (4 credits)
    Fall Semester
    How do we live in harmony with the natural systems of the planet in order to create wellbeing in ourselves, communities and organizations? Students explore the importance of understanding climate change, sense of place, eco-systems, indigenous knowledge systems, technology, energy, food, water, and waste. Students deepen their understanding of new leadership tools learned in SUST 650 and apply these tools to their social innovation projects. Site visits and dialogue with changemakers continue throughout the course. Prerequisite: SUST 650
  • (SUST 652) Innovation for Social and Economic Well-Being (4 credits)
    Spring Semester
    In this course, we consider the challenges to organizational and community change presented by global trends and by traditional socioeconomic and public policy models, and we introduce alternative models aimed at meeting these challenges: equity, ecological economics, community development, sustainable development, the sharing economy, social innovation and participatory democracy. We discuss how deeper knowledge of human perception and behavior can help us formulate transformative communication and education strategies and practices. Key concepts include: social capital, corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship, social equity, urban design, transformational leadership and ecopsychology. Prerequisites: SUST 651
  • (SUST 751) Designing Regenerative Communities (3 credits)
    Fall Semester
    This course offers students opportunities to explore how housing, economic development, inclusive community-based engagement and sustainable infrastructure (built and governance) might come together to more rapidly and more equitably advance wellbeing for all, in the urban context. Students will learn and apply social innovation and sustainability principles to co-design community engagement processes in the urban environment as we collaborate with community leaders including grassroots activists, agency staff, and elected officials in developing and implementing two projects related to equitable, community-driven, sustainable development. Students will have the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills in any of the following areas, depending on their own interests: watershed planning; green infrastructure; ecological design; inclusive community engagement; community-driven design; equitable community development; placemaking; livability; and community development policy. The framework of social innovation will underpin the approach to these concepts in the course.
  • (SUST 752) Leadership for Organizational and Community Well-Being (3 credits)
    Spring Semester
    This course explores examples of community and organizational practices that fulfill the vision of co-creating inclusive well-being that reflects the interrelatedness of personal well-being, organizational culture, socio-economic well-being, and the well-being of nature. Along with examples and case studies, students learn specific leadership skills that facilitate the creation of well-being in their organizations and communities. These include conflict transformation, collaborative decision making, social-emotional intelligence, scenario planning, along with other tools and frameworks. The class applies their learning while working with a community partner on an initiative directly impacting well-being at a local/regional scale.
  • ORG 630 Organizational Change (3 credits)
    Investigates the nature of change, forces for change, and the impact of change on its recipients. Introduces students to the practice of organization development with respect to change efforts in organizations as they examine their own roles and skill sets as change agents. Stresses the design and implementation of various organizational interventions. Students learn to choose between, and then design, appropriate interventions to transform an organization from a current state to a desired future state.
  • (SUST 760) Capstone A (2 credits) & (SUST 761) Capstone B (2 credits)
    Capstone A & B are offered fall and spring semesters. Students can take one Capstone section at a time. The Capstone course is run as a peer-coaching learning community where each student implements a social innovation project of their choosing. Capstone A focuses on analyzing the system that the student is interested in changing, identifying a leverage point, and creating a theory of change.

In Capstone B, students implement a prototype and social impact evaluation based on the systems analysis conducted in Capstone A. Students also learn oral communication and written communication skills in presenting their capstone project, writing a case study, and writing a short article for publication. Pre-requisites: SUST 650, SUST 651, SUST 652. Students are encouraged to take Capstone A and Capstone B in their last two semester of the program.

Sample Elective Courses (12 credits): 

Elective credits allow students to tailor their degree to a special area of interest or deepen specific leadership skills and knowledge. The SISL Community Course Electives will now be offered as either SUST 695 or SUST 795.

  • SUST 795 Guided Study Special Topics 
    The Guided Study Special Topics provide emerging opportunities for students to deepen their knowledge on rotating topics such as Deep Diversity, Theory U, and Positive Psychology.

  • Adaptive Leadership
    Instructor: Michael Mucha
    The adaptive leadership course will provide the knowledge, skills and tools for any person to mobilize others to do important work around change and thrive. It will strengthen a person’s ability to lead meaningful change through systematic approaches. The course is taught by Michael Mucha, Director of the Madison Metropolitan Sewage District and draws from his experience in a broad range of change efforts. 2 Graduate Credits

  • Mindful Leadership: Essential Skills for Leading in a Complex World
    Instructor: Lisa Baker, PhD
    Description: In this course, participants will learn how mindfulness concepts and practices can help us cultivate our natural abilities to lead with excellence. This course provides an exploration of mindfulness practices aimed at cultivating greater awareness, focus, clarity, and compassion – qualities that enhance our ability as leaders to create safe and trusting environments. We will explore how to apply these qualities to enhance our professional and personal lives, including creating more diverse, inclusive, and equitable environments. This course is experiential and applied, where participants will engage in mindfulness practices, inquiry, and dialogue. A variety of highly relevant and empirically-supported frameworks, theories, practices, and concepts are interwoven throughout the course, including Theory U, Appreciative Inquiry, Process-Oriented Psychology, Neuroscience of Mindfulness/Meditation, and Emotional and Social Intelligence.

          Intentions/Objectives: Through participating in this course, participants will:

o Establish a regular (daily) mindfulness practice, including informal practice at work, supporting an understanding of different practices and what they can support.
o Demonstrate knowledge of how mindfulness can enhance our sense of self as leaders and our impact we make on the world. 
o Decreased stress-related complaints and increased self-efficacy in handling stress and challenges
o Greater understanding of some ways that mindfulness supports different leadership approaches and styles.

3 Graduate Credits

  • (SUST 745) International Engagement: Sustainable Community Wellbeing (3 credits)
    Gain intercultural leadership skills through collaborative, community-based social innovation initiatives in Alto Cayma, Peru. Enhance global understanding of sustainability through hands-on projects that contribute to cultural, social, economic and ecological wellbeing. An optional portion of the trip takes place in the Cusco and Machu Picchu areas where students learn further about cultural preservation and sustainable food systems. Students meet every other week in spring term and spend two weeks in late May/early June in Peru.
  • Permaculture Design Certificate (3 Credits)
    Instructors: Kate Heiber-Cobb, Marian Farrior
    Description: Our Permaculture Design Certificate Training will cover all the usual topics and skill sets around Permaculture Ethics and Principles, ecological principles, water, soil, food, wildness, observation, networks, food forests, plant guilds, systems thinking and more. This is a 7- hour course held over three 3-Day weekends. Attendance is necessary to receive your certificate. We will be holding our course this year out at Terra Simpla Permaculture & Retreat Center outside of Stoughton. We are dedicated to making this course accessible financially for all those who hold it in their hearts to attend and learn. The Madison Area Permaculture Guild has been supporting scholarship dollars and sponsoring these courses for 9 years now. We have graduated 150 people. We believe education and modeling are the best way to create healthy systems change. For more information and to register visit
  • Students can also take electives from our Master’s in Business Administration and Master’s in Organizational Leadership and Change

Tuition and Financial Aid

The annual cost of attending the Social Innovation & Sustainability Leadership (SISL) graduate program will vary among students based on the number of credits taken per semester. In addition, the total program cost of earning a Master of Arts in the program will depend upon chosen electives and transferred credits. If you compare the cost of an Edgewood College graduate degree with other institutions in the region, both public and private, you’ll find Edgewood College is in the middle of the range. As you consider the costs of programs offered by various institutions, be sure to factor in course fees, books, and other miscellaneous costs that may not be included in per credit tuition.

Tuition and Fees for 2020-21

Master of Arts Degree, 33 credits                            $750/credit + applicable course fees
Graduate Certificate, 12 credits (600-series)          $750/credit + applicable course fees

We offer up to 6 community course electives to students at a lower cost than the other required 6 SUST electives. Most students choose the community course electives. The new total cost reflects the lower cost of the community course electives. 

SISL Program Director Steve Gilchrist can work with you to create a course schedule that fits your needs. 

Course fees vary per course. Some course fees are an average cost for required books, while other courses meet for full days and include the cost of lunches, snacks and field trips in addition to the books and materials. If you have any questions about course fees, contact the program director.

Additional Benefits

Financial Aid

Graduate students are eligible for financial aid in the form of Federal Stafford Loans. Learn more about Stafford Loans, including eligibility requirements and application instructions.

Graduate Student Financial Aid

Our admissions and financial aid counselors have worked with thousands of students who have questioned how they could afford to complete their graduate education. They will use their experience to suggest creative solutions for financing your education. We extend tuition discounts to various corporate partners in the region, offer a couple payment plan options, monthly and employer reimbursement, and work with veterans to maximize their available aid.

How To Apply

Admission to the Social Innovation & Sustainability Leadership Graduate Program is determined by an assessment of the candidate's academic qualifications, work experience and interest in the field. Class sizes are small and cohorts are limited to 18 students. Applications are reviewed as they are received, so it is advisable to apply early.

Key Dates

We are now accepting program applications for the next cohort.

Scholarship Applications: To apply for a scholarship, fill out a Scholarship Application and submit it with your application materials by June 18, 2020.

Classes begin: August 2020

Application Requirements

  • Transcripts
    Students seeking the Master's degree must provide official transcripts for ALL undergraduate and graduate academic credits received from United States regionally accredited or equivalent post-secondary institutions.

    Students seeking the graduate Certificate need only provide official transcripts demonstrating completion of a bachelor’s degree at an accredited post-secondary institution.

    Transcripts should be sent to:
    Edgewood College Graduate and Professional Studies
    1000 Edgewood College Dr
    Madison, WI 53711
  • Graduate application (with $30 fee). You can fill out an online application.
  • Admission interview: Schedule your interview with Program Director Steve Gilchrist or (608) 663-6991. The interview may be done in person or over the telephone. This may be done prior to submitting an application, and is a great way to ask questions about the program.
  • Essay: In 2-3 pages address the questions: 1) What do you bring to the Social Innovation and Sustainability Leadership Program? 2) What do you hope to take from it? Include your full name, email and telephone number on your essay and submit as an attachment to
  • At least one letter of recommendation: from a college or university professor, supervisor, and/or professional colleague who can speak to your potential for success in the Social Innovation & Sustainability Leadership program. Follow this link for letter of recommendation guidelines

Community Fellowship Application Requirements

Requirements include: Program Application, Admission Interview, and Essay (see PDF linked below for essay instructions).
Working professionals with significant experience in a particular area of social innovation and sustainability can apply for a Community Fellowship. This mutually enriching arrangement lets the Fellow share expertise with other program participants while receiving the framework and support to complete a significant social innovation and sustainability project. Community Fellows receive a certificate of completion for participating in the program but do not earn graduate credit since they audit the courses at a reduced program cost.  

In compliance with federal regulation, Edgewood College must disclose certain data regarding non- degree academic certificate programs, including program cost, time required to complete the certificate program, and certain employment information for those completing the program.

  • Tuition and Financial Aid (found above)
  • Schedule and Course Information (found above)
  • Right To Know

Students and Alumni


Program participants represent a wide variety of fields: social entrepreneurship non-profit, government, small business corporate management; economic development, planning and design; education; public health; and energy and utilities. Students enter the program at various stages of their careers. Some students have recently completed their undergraduate degrees and are looking for the skills, connections and project-based learning that will propel them into their careers. Others are already in their chosen careers, and are looking for the knowledge and skills to enhance the work they are doing by launching or furthering the social innovation and/or sustainability efforts of their current organization.

2019-20 Cohort 


AllisonMartinson BeatrizAguilar

Anneka BarrowAllison MartinsonBeatriz Aguilar

CarolynBetz CynthiaMuakaEvanStone

Carolyn BetzCynthia MuakaEvan Stone

GraceReutten HewanSchadePeterBeeson 

Grace ReuttenHewan SchadePeter Beeson


Sarah StoehrSujata Gautam


Our alumni are making a difference in the many complex social-emotional intelligence challenges facing our world today including equity, climate change, violence prevention, education, energy policy, green building, community development, equity, land use and water quality, biodiversity protection, food security and public health. They work for a wide range of organizations including: American Family Insurance, Boys & Girls Club, Community Groundworks, Environmental Leadership Program, GDS Associates Engineers & Consultants, Group Health Cooperative, Lincoln Elementary School, Madison Gas & Electric, Sustain Dane, Trek Bicycle Corporation, UW Health, and Wisconsin Department of Transportation.



Social Innovation and Sustainability Leadership in Health Care

Michael Weber, '18

Michael Weber is the Executive Director of Sales, Client and Health Promotion Services Division for Dean Health Plan and Prevea360 Health Plan, one of the largest, most diversified managed care organizations in Wisconsin. As part of Dean's Executive team, Michael leads the Sales, Client and Health Promotion teams representing fully insured and self-funded health insurance products to large, midsize, and small employers, as well as to individuals on and off the Federally Facilitated Marketplace exchange. In addition, Michael oversees the Medicare sales team at Dean and the Health Promotion staff. He is a member of the MA Program class of 2018. In this video feature, learn how Mike's project, Gone for Good, an organized effort to rid our waterways of prescription drugs, has grown and evolved. He also speaks to the leadership qualities he has been able to bring to Gone for Good as a result of his participation in the SISL Master's Program.

Annette Miller, '17

Annette Miller is the CEO and founder of EQT By Design, LLC. Her passion is ensuring inclusion, and engagement is front and center in her work. She has 25+ years of strong professional policy and analytic skills, a wide network of community, government and business relationships, and extensive networks within Madison and Dane County’s diverse populations. Annette works as a strong connector between community, business, government and nonprofits. This results in developing and implementing ideas and strategies that are inclusive, resilient and evolve into a strong community backbone. Annette graduated with her Master’s degree in 2017.

Alex Law

Alex works for the Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation (WECC) as a Program Manager for Energy Finance Solutions (EFS). In this role he manages existing energy efficiency and renewable energy loan programs throughout the United States, supervises two teams of loan specialists, coordinators and administrators, and consults new clients to guide the setup and implementation of new loan programs. EFS’ clients are state government agencies or large utilities interested in promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy by making financing available to consumers or businesses. Some of EFS’ programs provide incentives for low income customers, and some programs also offer non-traditional loan underwriting criteria, such as looking at the utility bill history instead of credit scores or debt-to-income ratios

When Alex decided to pursue a graduate degree he wanted to combine his background in business and banking with his passion for sustainability, diversity, and inclusion. Getting an MBA from UW-Madison at the same time as the masters in the SISL program provided him with this perfect merger of focus areas, and was key in getting into his current position and field, which needs unique and creative approaches to solving some of the most pressing issues of our times.

Advisory Board

Our advisory board consists of distinguished local social innovators and sustainability leaders.

Alia Stevenson

Alia is committed to building and sustaining highly effective organizations. Alia has significant experience in team development, data collection, program planning, evaluation, and training facilitation. An advocate for health and wellness, Alia brings a holistic approach to her work through assessing and improving environments to support the health needs of both the individual and the organization. Alia has advanced leadership skills to drive responsive organizational development and change efforts. Alia was recognized as one of Brava Magazine’s 2015 Woman to Watch, a 2017 graduate of Nehemiah’s African American Leadership Capacity & Development Institute, and a 2017-2018 Human Impact Partner Health Equity Awakened Fellow. Alia has a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling Psychology, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Beth Churchill

Beth is a seasoned Corporate Responsibility/Sustainability strategist. A respected leader committed to guiding organizations towards sustainability planning, program management and facilitation in both business and community. Beth served as a fellow in Edgewood College’s first Social Innovation and Sustainability Leadership cohort. She is an accredited member of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals. Beth has an insatiable appetite to help others make the change they want to see in the world. A systems thinker, always learning from nature.

Gloria Reyes

Gloria Reyes has committed her career to public service, currently serving as Deputy Mayor to Public Safety, Civil Rights, Community Services, Public Health, and City Attorney’s Office. Gloria is responsible for policy development, management and community outreach. Gloria advises the Mayor on political and policy implications. As Deputy Mayor to Public Safety she is responsible for administrative priorities in public safety disciplines. Gloria is a long time resident of Madison attending Madison East High School and the University of Wisconsin Madison where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Science & Law and Criminal Justice. She recently completed the Leadership in Police Organization training. She is currently working on her Master’s in Public Administration with a focus in Security Management and certification in Organizational Management.

Grant Abert

Grant is the director and founder of the Kailo Fund, a Wisconsin-based investment and philanthropic fund working to address social issues and opportunities through investments, philanthropy and entrepreneurial engagement. An active philanthropist for 30 years, he co-founded the Wisconsin Community Fund, Sustain Dane, Slow Money Wisconsin and Madison U.Lab Hub.

Jessie Lerner

Jessie is the Executive Director of Sustain Dane. From 2007-2013 she developed and managed the nationally recognized MPower Champion Program, working with Madison area businesses to turn sustainable intention into action. She previously worked as an educator at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center, and in program development and environmental education at the Kigio Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya.

Jim Bradley

Jim is a life-long resident of Madison and a graduate of UW-Madison. Jim joined Home Savings Bank after graduation and was named president in 1985. Home Savings Bank is a $145 million community bank serving Dane County. The Bank has a long-term commitment to environmental sustainability. In 1977 the bank opened the first active solar bank office in Wisconsin, located in Stoughton. In May 2006 the bank opened the first LEED Silver bank office in Wisconsin at 3762 East Washington Avenue, Madison.

John Imes

John is a former Chairman of the Board and co-founder of Wisconsin Environmental Initiative, joined the organization as Executive Director in 1998. John has over 20 years of experience creating and managing award-winning programs and is recognized as a leader and spokesperson on ways to improve Wisconsin’s environment and economy. John is also co-owner of Arbor House, an award-winning inn and model for sustainable tourism located in Madison, Wisconsin.

Karen Lincoln Michel

Karen is publisher and editor of Madison Magazine and president of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism Board of Directors. Karen has spent much of her career in newspapers, where she held jobs from reporter to top editor. She is a former executive editor of The Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, Louisiana, and a former assistant managing editor of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Karen started in newspapers at the La Crosse Tribune and went on to The Dallas Morning News in Texas. From 1987 to 2005, she was a part-owner of News From Indian Country, a bi-monthly newspaper published in northern Wisconsin. She has written extensively about Native American issues as a freelancer and was a columnist for The New York Times Syndicate. Karen is a past president of UNITY: Journalists for Diversity and a past president of the Native American Journalists Association. Karen has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and a master’s degree from Marquette University. She is a member of the Ho-Chunk tribe in Wisconsin.

Kelly Hilyard

Kelly has worked in the green building industry in Madison for the past seven years, first as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) consultant with Madison Environmental Group, INC., and most recently as a freelance sustainability consultant. She has managed 14 LEED building projects in Wisconsin including the Edgewood College STREAM building. Before moving to Madison, Kelly spent eight years as an organic farmer in northern California and Texas and received her Master's degree in landscape architecture from University of Texas-Austin.

D. Michael Mucha

Michael is the Chief Engineer and Director for the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District. He has dedicated his 28-year career in local government to building public trust through sustainability. “Anything can be accomplished if you have the public working with you.” Michael has his BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, his Masters in Public Administration from the University of Washington-Seattle, and completed Harvard University’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government program. He is a registered professional engineer. Michael serves on the Board of Directors for the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure, and chair for the US Water Alliance’s One Water Council. He teaches courses in sustainable infrastructure management and adaptive leadership at the University of Wisconsin and Edgewood College.

Missy Tracy

Missy is the Municipal Relations Coordinator at Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison and a tribal member of the Ho-Chunk Nation. Her career spans three decades in business with 22 years of management experience. For the past ten years, Missy has worked for Indian country in Public Relations, Training, Regulation and Community Relations. She was the Senior Public Relations Manager for Ho-Chunk Gaming’s site in Wisconsin Dells wherein she executed an award winning strategic public relations program which won accolades from the Central Wisconsin Community Action Council, the Red Cross, and the Baraboo Chamber of Commerce. Missy has served as the Seminar Director at the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA Seminar Institute) in Washington, D. C. Missy continues to serve on the board for the Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling since 2009 in addition to serving on five local boards in the Madison community.

Penny Patterson

Penny serves the Promega Marketing Services and Corporate Affairs teams as the Vice President of Communications. She started with Promega in 2004 as manager in Marketing Communications and later moved into Corporate Affairs. Today the two teams provide marketing, internal and business communications across the Promega constituencies of customers, employees, community and shareholders.

Prior to Promega, Penny worked in advertising and PR at two Madison firms - The Hiebing Group and Knupp and Watson. She filled roles in PR, account management, and communications planning for national and local accounts. She started her career as a radio reporter in Madison covering news and creating public programming. Over the years, she has been a part of award winning work with recognition from the Milwaukee Press Club, Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and American Advertising Federation – Madison. Penny earned Bachelor of Arts degrees from the UW Madison in journalism honors and philosophy. She has served on Boards of Directors and advisory committees including Community Shares, Madison Rape Crisis Center and Madison Youth Choirs.

Will Green

Will is the Founder of Mentoring Positives, Inc. a mentoring program working with high-risk youth in Madison Wisconsin. He earned his Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and is from Gary, Indiana. Will has over 25 years of experience working with youth and families with behavioral and emotional issues.


Program Initiatives

Students in the Social Innovation & Sustainability Leadership Graduate Program become part of a network of professional colleagues. The program’s project-based approach and integration of regional sustainability experts into the classes, either as guest instructors or through class field trips, builds breadth of knowledge, as well as social capital. Students have the opportunity to connect with many of our partners while in the program, and we can facilitate further connections based on student interest. Visit some of our partner organizations’ web sites:

  • Miller-web
    The Social Innovation and Sustainability Leadership program gave me the confidence to think of myself as a leader and discover how I could empower myself and others to make an impact on issues involving equity and inclusion. I couldn't be more appreciative of the curriculum. The instructors, readings, guest speakers, and field trips gave us a perspective and access to knowledge that we wouldn't have necessarily found on our own.
    Annette Miller, Social Entrepreneur