Get to Know DWOS All-Star: Paul Kardish

I was born in California but raised in Philadelphia (FLY EAGLES FLY!) as the middle of seven kids.  My mom, Pat, was probably the best cheerleader in the world and I wish she was here to see whatever it is I do on February 24th!  I have been married to my best friend who just also happens to be a wonderful person and mom, Lisa, for 10 years.  I could not have chosen a better partner in crime to go through life with than Lisa!   In my mind, there is no better person for me than her and she is the love of my life.   Lisa and I have an amazing son, Hudson, who is 7 and makes us real proud every single day.  I am very fortunate and proud to have such an absolute spectacular family!  I can only hope one day I am able to repay my family, especially Lisa, for their belief in me.

Currently, I am General Counsel at Schneider and have been there for the last 4+ years.  Schneider has been a very rewarding professional experience where I don’t think I ever worked as hard but also never had as much fun/laughed so hard as I ever had in a job.  Schneider is a remarkable company with phenomenal leaders and I am very lucky to be a part of such a great team.

I have been very fortunate to serve our country as a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for almost six years.  It was with the FBI incidentally that I had my first exposure to the Red Cross – I was working a bank robbery/bombing crime scene and the Red Cross services van and emergency services team stayed with us the entire time we processed the crime scene – almost 24 hours!

I am a very proud alumnus of Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA which had great success in this year’s NCAA March Madness finishing runner-up!

I am very fortunate to serve as a member of the board of the American Red Cross for Northeast Wisconsin – Greatest American Red Cross Chapter in the U.S.  The members of the board, led by Steve Hansen and Pat Exarhos, are some of the best in the business and our Chapter is in great hands!  Can’t thank all the Red Cross volunteers enough for all they do…they are truly unsung heroes!

I decided to take part in DWOS All-Stars to help maximize donations on behalf of the greatest Red Cross chapter in the US!  Also, it is just something I would never do…so why not embarrass yourself for a good cause!

Get to Know our Pro Dance Partners: Jamie Keyzer of Simply Ballroom

8939JamieDancing and performing have always been an imperative part of my life.   After being involved in show choir and musicals throughout high school, I realized being on stage was my passion.  When I started my schooling as an elementary teacher at NWTC, I knew I needed to find an outlet to perform.  It was here that ballroom dancing became that integral outlet.

I joined the NWTC Ballroom Dance Club and became engrossed with the art of ballroom.  Shortly after I became involved in the dance club, I began taking private lessons and participating in competitions.   Dance presented itself in an array of opportunities.

It has been said many times before, but teaching truly is rewarding.   Through my teaching experiences, I have found it is most gratifying to witness students thriving in the classroom and building a foundation for their future.  Not only have I been fortunate to teach in the classroom, but I have been able to extend my instruction to include dance; both with children and adults.

Ballroom dancing embraces any age.  It has been my experience once people are introduced to ballroom, they absorb the essence of dance and they are often eager to progress.  It is my hope to create an atmosphere that invites any willing participant into the world of dance.

Jamie’s Star dance partner is Chris Lofgren, of Schneider National.

Get to Know: Chris Lofgren, Chief Executive Officer for Schneider National

Photo by Frievalt Photography

Photo by Frievalt Photography

My name is Chris Lofgren, Chief Executive Officer for Schneider National.  I have been blessed with 19 years of employment at Schneider National.  More importantly, I am the father of two wonderful children, Grace and Christian.

My first dance memory was being “selected,” as a sixth grader to represent Hamblen Elementary School, in the Spokane, WA district wide “square dancing jamboree.”  What comes back is the terror of actually having to hold hands with a girl!  This is followed by a memory from an eighth grade “sock hop” where dancing appeared to imply boys standing on one side of the gymnasium looking at girls standing on the other side.

As with all things, changes occur and so do the memories.  I can vividly recall high school dances to the music of bands like Chicago, The Doobie Brothers, Earth Wind and Fire, Tower of Power, Average White Band, and my favorite, Led Zeppelin, to name a few.  These were the years where my dates moved their attractive hips smoothly and easily to the beat of the music, while I tried desperately to figure out how to shuffle my feet!  Oh, and the much coveted, but still dreaded, slow dance…what am I supposed to do with my hands, forget about my feet!

College was my breakout for dancing.  Attending Montana State University meant learning to Jitter Bug, which created great opportunities to ask beautiful co-eds to dance throughout Friday and Saturday nights at Little Johns, and St. George and the Dragon, bars in Bozeman, MT.  And being a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity, who could forget the toga party dance steps made famous to the song “Shout” in the epic cultural movie, “Animal House!”

All of this is light years away from the grace and sophistication of ballroom dancing!  May God help my professional dance partner.

My favorite dancer would have to be Sammy Davis, Jr.  I can still recall his great tap dancing routines as part of the “Rat Pack” with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.  As for my dream dance partner; that would have to be Marine Jahan the “dancer double” for Jennifer Beals in the movie Flash Dance.

Given Schneider National’s long term involvement in transporting relief items to natural disasters, we have a deep appreciation for the incredible role the Red Cross plays in our country.  Mother Nature knows no prejudice to geography, gender, or race when it comes to imparting hardship.  The Red Cross is always at the heart of efforts to alleviate the immediate displacement, and start the healing, for victims of these catastrophic events.  Schneider National is proud to be a sponsor and partner in helping the Red Cross continue their vital role.

Get to know Mary Gronnert – Foundation Coordinator, Schneider National Foundation, Inc.

photo courtesy of Frievalt Photography, llc

Mary Gronnert is the Foundation Coordinator for the Schneider National Foundation, Inc. Mary has been employed with Schneider National for 39 years and prior to being names foundation coordinator she was the administrative assistant to Don Schneider.

Get to know a little more about Mary:

Describe your first dancing recollection. About how old were you and what was the occasion? My mother seemed to think at the age of 6 I needed some coordination and self-esteem. She enrolled me with Mary Jane VanDyse who taught tap and ballet dancing along with baton twirling in the basement at the Bank of Luxemburg. If you remember Mary Jane, she was the Packers Golden Girl in the 50’s and 60’s. Lessons were held in the late afternoons once a week. At the end of the session (I can’t remember how long a session lasted) we performed our routine(s) on stage at the Bay Theatre. Some of the mothers, grandmothers and aunts were great seamstresses and they made us some very elaborate costumes. My favorite dance was the Skater’s Waltz.

Who is your dream dance partner? I really don’t have a dream dance partner. A good partner would be someone who could just glide across the room.

 Who is your favorite dancer of all time on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” and why? I have to apologize here. I really did not watch ‘Dancing with the Stars” until this past year. So, I would have to say Donald Driver because he’s so much fun to watch and extremely charming. And who can resist that smile?

 Why support the American Red Cross with your participation? Until hearing a presentation from our local American Red Cross several years ago, I associated them with holding area blood drives and providing babysitting instructions. I learned that the Red Cross does a lot more. They provide disaster relief. We are fortunate in our part of the country in that we don’t have to worry about hurricanes or earthquakes – but we have no idea when we could experience a fire, flood or tornado. The Red Cross is always available to assist with food and shelter and they work well in partnership with other area agencies that provide disaster services. This collaborative approach has always impressed me, as does their assistance for military families coping with deployments and emergency situations. Yes, they still have a babysitting course but in addition, they hold CPR classes and offer first responder training. Because they are not a government agency, they operate with volunteers and our generosity to continue their mission.

Hobbies or passions:

I love to spend time with my husband cruising the countryside in our restored 1969 Firebird convertible and, when there is room and time, pack up the golf clubs and cruise to a golf course. And, of course, there’s the grandchildren, they are the best! Working for the Schneider National Foundation has introduced me to a number of not-for-profit organizations and, being able to work part-time, I have become involved with many volunteer activities. I have been very fortunate and feel strongly about giving back to the community where I live and work.

Check out Mary and Mike practicing their Waltz!