Susan B. Anthony Award Dinner
KWN co-sponsors the Susan B. Anthony Award Dinner to recognize and honor a Kenosha County woman who works toward and promotes the goal of equality for women. The proceeds of the SBA Dinner and Raffle Ticket sales benefit a scholarship fund for women returning to school for a baccalaureate degree and a Grant Program for Kenosha County organizations that provide support to women and children.
The Susan B. Anthony Award dinner is held yearly to honor an extraordinary woman. The 2015 recipient is Michelle Serpe, educator, artist, activist, and advocate.
She may be Kenosha born and raised but that has not always kept Michelle B. Serpe close to home. she has a keen interest in other cultures and has visited, taught, and/or lived in 6 countries. Michelle was selected through the UNESCO STEM Exchange Program to participate in a teacher exchange with South Korea in 2012. She has been on medical missions to Honduras and served as an interpreter in Lima, Peru for a group of UW-Oshkosh professors working on an academic exchange.
In her work as Rotary Youth Exchange Officer she helps Kenosha high school students and students from other countries realize their goal of spending a year living and studying in a foreign country. Her Ph.D. dissertation entitled My Way Isn’t the Only Way: Leading the Way to Multicultural Celebration in a Global Society through Rotary Youth Exchange reflects what Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” What a better reason to travel?
As a self-made entrepreneur owning and operating a custom interior and exterior painting business since 1974 she has successfully broken into a field formerly dominated by men. In 1971 Michelle was denied admittance to UW-Milwaukee’s College of Architecture and then MATC’s Carpenters and Apprenticeship program because of her gender. Through her work with the WI Governor’s Employment Board she helped advance gender-equity in the trades.
Always having the wellbeing of others in mind, Michelle is a Kenosha Unified School District teacher for elementary English Language Learners, a foster parent, a Big Sister, and a home tutor to Spanish speaking students. She was a Spanish interpreter for the Kenosha Police Department and encourages Latino families to allow their girls to continue their education past high school.
Michelle’s involvement in community and state organizations as well as on college boards/committees is extensive. Awards for her work include the Focus on Women Award from UW-Parkside’s Women’s Studies Program, Living Legend Award through the Mahone Foundation, and a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow recognition.
Susan B. Anthony said, “Forget conventionalisms; forget what the world thinks of you stepping out of your place; think your best thoughts, speak your best words, work your best works, looking to your own conscience for approval.” This is truly how Michelle Serpe lives her life.