Karen Julesberg ‘60
Although Karen Julesberg’s career has taken her in a few different directions, almost everyone who knows her will tell you that she is a born teacher. “The field of education taught me how to work with a variety of different people and how to meet the needs of many. Teaching also taught me how to bring out the gifts in others, to listen and observe, to juggle many tasks, and to be organized," says Julesberg.
Beginning her career as an elementary teacher in Beloit and Madison, Wisconsin, schools, Julesberg went on to earn a master’s degree in education at the University of Northern Colorado and later an MBA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her professional opportunities took her from elementary and middle school classrooms, to teaching in the Luther College Education Department (1966-1969) and at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, to serving as a cancer information specialist and manager at the Cancer Information Service (CIS) of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Paul P. Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center, to becoming a management and marketing consultant, to becoming the director of a mental health agency, and eventually returning to the Cancer Center to become the regional director of the five-state (Wis., Iowa, Minn., N.D., and S.D.) CIS.
It is Julesberg’s penchant for volunteering for the causes she is passionate about that we honor her with the Distinguished Service Award. Julesberg is grateful for the numerous ways her volunteer activities have provided her with opportunities to make a difference in her church and community by using her education and leadership skills. Coincidentally, Julesberg had initially worked as a volunteer for the CIS in 1975, and 6 months later was asked to join the staff. She left CIS in 1987 to earn the MBA in management and marketing, and returned as project director in 1996. She retired in 2004.
Involvement in a variety of church activities has been particularly important in the growth of Karen's faith through the years. As a member of All Saints Lutheran Church in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, she served on the church council and as its president. She volunteered with the Personal Essentials Pantry and a local public school classroom as well as currently serving as the church liaison to the Madison Area Jail Ministry. She was also on the church council and a Bethel Bible Series teacher at Midvale Community Lutheran Church in Madison.
In her Fitchburg community, Karen was a founding member of the Friends of the Fitchburg Library (FOFL) and served on its first board. The many FOFL community library-related activities prior to a 2008 library referendum are credited with playing a major role in a successful referendum which led to building the first library ever in this community of 26,000. Later, she served as a board member for the Fitchburg Library. In addition, she co-led the staff and community members through the library's first strategic planning process to ensure that the new library became one of excellence.
Most recently, Karen has become involved in a number of programs to address criminal justice issues. She has served both as a tutor and volunteer coordinator for the tutor program sponsored by the Madison Area Jail Ministry. She also serves as a volunteer and the volunteer coordinator for one of the jail locations to provide primarily healthcare benefit information for those returning to the community. This is a program of the Madison Area Urban Ministry on which she previously served on the board. And as if that is not enough, she is actively involved in Madison Organizing in Strength, Equality and Solidarity (MOSES), an interfaith and grassroots organization advocating for criminal justice reform. She serves as chair of both the MOSES Personnel Committee and the Member Engagement Team, and is a member of their Organizational Effectiveness Committee and the Leadership Board. She also serves on the statewide Prison Prevention Task Force of the MOSES statewide parent organization.
At Luther, Karen has served as a class agent for the Class of 1960 since 2010 and led her class reunion giving committee through their 50th anniversary celebration in 2015. She is a member of the President's Council and the Heritage Club. As a first-generation college student herself, she established the Karen Julesberg Scholarship at Luther in 2012, supporting first-generation students with demonstrated need for financial assistance who qualify for the TRIO Achievement Program. TRIO is a federally-funded student retention program that provides participating students with holistic, individualized support, and comprehensive programming that promotes their academic success, personal development, and sense of community. Her scholarship is supporting four students this year, and has benefited 18 students since its inception.
Karen’s dedication to the causes she supports is admirable. Working with a variety of different people… Meeting the needs of many… Bringing out the gifts in others… putting her faith into action... and being a life-long learner and teacher. We are proud to recognize Karen Julesberg with the Distinguished Service Award.