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Judging Panel for Local Spark Grant Program

Judging Panel

Jerry Deschane

Executive Director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities

One of Jerry’s mains goals is to support vibrant Wisconsin communities. When WEA Trust approached him and the League of Wisconsin Municipalities with the idea for an award to invigorate local cities and villages, Jerry wholeheartedly supported its mission, exclaiming, “Make it awesome!”

Jerry Deschane, CAE, IOM, is the Executive Director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities and the Urban Alliance. He also serves as the Secretary of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities Mutual Insurance board of directors and is an ex officio member of the board of the Local Government Institute. Working with the League board and seven-person staff, Jerry is responsible for engaging the League’s membership in the state legislative process and for motivating state policymakers to support Wisconsin communities. He is the fifth League Executive Director in 116 years.

Deschane spent 20 years with the Wisconsin Builders Association and also has experience in state government and the news media.

Terry Estness

Executive Director, Wauwatosa Chamber of Commerce

“Sparks join together to create a fire illuminating the surrounding area with light and warmth. The Local Spark Award does that for communities here in Wisconsin by providing that spark of funding to help bring citizens together to celebrate, grow and enhance their quality of life,” says Terry Estness about why the Local Spark Award is important.

Terry has extensive experience in both the business world and in local government. She served as Mayor of the City of Wauwatosa from 2000 to 2008. Prior to being elected Mayor, she represented Wauwatosa’s 5th Aldermanic district from 1990 until 2000. In these roles she had the opportunity to serve on the board of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, the WI Alliance of Cities, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District, the Wisconsin Center District, Visit Milwaukee as well as other task forces and panels.

As an entrepreneur, she and her husband own T. Estness, Ltd, an association management company currently representing not only the Wauwatosa Chamber of Commerce, but also the Municipal Treasurers Association of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Surgical Society, A Chapter of the American College of Surgeons.

Dan Hill

Local Government Specialist at the UW-Extension

From a relatively early age, Dan knew he wanted to serve the public through teaching. Be it tutoring math to members of the United Steelworkers of America in Gary, Indiana, demonstrating soil conservation techniques to subsistence farmers as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay, or designing and delivering community development programs as a UW-Extension CRD educator in Southwest Wisconsin, Dan has cherished the challenges and rewards intrinsic to the teaching/learning process.

As a local government specialist, Dan continues that work with his colleagues at the Local Government Center. Together, they design and deliver educational programs for the thousands of appointed and elected officials who manage and govern Wisconsin's local units of government. Dan earned Master’s Degrees in Adult Education and Agricultural Economics at UW-Madison and a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Indiana University.

Steve Cummings

Mayor, City of Oshkosh

For Oshkosh Mayor Steve Cummings, the creative spark for Operation Lake Fly occurred during the fall 2014 League of Wisconsin Municipalities conference. After Peter Kageyama discussed his book “For the Love of Cities” the Mayor looked at fellow Councilman Thomas Pech Jr. as both said “the lake fly”! From that point their public art project had hatched, celebrating the maligned creature that is so vital to the city of Oshkosh and the ecosystem. 

Cummings served on the Oshkosh City Council for five years as Deputy Mayor until he became Mayor in April 2015. He’s the fifth generation of his family to call Oshkosh home. He serves on the Plan Commission, Landmarks Commission and newly formed Public Art and Beautification Committee. Cummings also sits on the boards of the Oshkosh Zoo Society, Evergreen Village, Winnebago County Historical Society, East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and Greater Oshkosh Healthy Neighborhood Initiative, Inc. Prior to his service, the Mayor owned his own advertising agency and was a marketing director for a Fortune 500 company.

How do I enter?

  1. Download and fill out the proposal form.
  2. Submit your proposal to WEA Trust using our online entry form.
Download Local Spark Proposal Form  Submit My Proposal