2016 Campaign Chairs

Oshkosh United Way 2016 Campaign Chairs Announced

Written by Karen Befus

Three highly-charged women Melissa Kohn, Petra Roter and Mary Olson have stepped forward to build on prior successes and lead the Oshkosh United Way 2016 campaign.

Melissa Kohn is the current Director of the Oshkosh campuses for Fox Valley Technical College and a past-president for the Oshkosh Area United Way. Kohn, who has her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Education from UW-Oshkosh, has been a local community leader for many years having served with CESA 6, Moraine Park Technical College and in various roles with FVTC and UWO. Kohn currently serves on the board of G/O Economic Development Corp, Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, Oshkosh Women’s Fund, and the Oshkosh Chamber’s Partner in Education.  Kohn shares “My years on the board of the Oshkosh Area United Way have opened my eyes to the needs within our community. Through the good work of the United Way and its partner agencies we are making a difference in combating poverty; however, our efforts need to continue.”  Kohn is dedicated to collaborating with her co-chairs to raise awareness and provide solutions in the community.  This can only be done with the support of donors.

Petra Roter, a leader within the UW system, had served until July 1 of this year as the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at UW Oshkosh since 2005. Roter was responsible for the management and leadership for student success and development programs and services, as well as enrollment management and advisement of the Oshkosh Student Association. Roter holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and master’s in Clinical Psychology from Western Illinois University and a PhD in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Counseling and Psychological Services in Higher Education from Indiana State University. “I have been a supporter of the United Way for over 35 years and served on the OAUW board and as a past president of the board.  I have seen first-hand  the positive impact that the United Way has on our community and how it strengthens the community and its families....how sharing our time, talent and treasure to address the critical needs in our community such as providing  support for parenting, access to mental health and medical  clinic services, provides sexual abuse and assault education and counseling and that hand up when life circumstances change. I choose to be the change I want to see in the world and I choose to live and give United because I know the OAUW adds quality to all our lives and makes this community a strong, caring and compassionate one.”

Roter has had numerous leadership roles in the community and was honored by the Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce as the 2013 Outstanding Woman of the Year.  Roter brings over 30 years of experience in higher education administration and leadership as she joins Kohn and Olson in chairing the 2017 campaign.

Mary Olson is a long time Oshkosh resident who served 27 years in the Chancellors office of UW Oshkosh before retiring in 2008.  Olson has a long history of involvement in Oshkosh organizations where she served on the School Board of the Oshkosh Area School District and sat on the first board of the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry. “United Way was a significant force in making the Pantry happen,” Olson shared.  Olson also has participated in other United Way initiatives such as the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program and the Women in Poverty study.  “United Way makes a difference in the lives of many of our friends and neighbors in Oshkosh. Be it food assistance, shelter, tax assistance, education, health, and many more basic needs, United Way is there to support our community. I am pleased to be one of the Chairs of this year’s United Way campaign.”

This dynamic trio of community leaders, will build upon the success of the 2015 campaign champions - Al Hartman, Elizabeth Hartman, and Amy Davis. The energy, humor and community relationships these leaders bring in their campaign roles guarantees the Oshkosh community will be represented with stewardship, knowledge, and heart.

The Oshkosh Area United Way is excited to continue the tradition of bringing on teams of campaign champions to help facilitate the campaigns within local area businesses and to build lasting relationships and collaborations. 

United Way's role as a community connector offers the opportunity for people to come together, identify community needs, create lasting solutions, and fund programs to ensure everyone has opportunities for success.