After 13 years dedicated to the Jensen Community Center, Executive Director Cathy Praxmarer has announced her retirement effective the end of May. Praxmarer has been the Center’s Executive Director since August 2015, stepping into the role after Randy Clausen’s retirement. She joined the Jensen Center as Administrative Assistant in June 2005, when she and Randy were the only office personnel. In Cathy’s first year as Executive Director, she was welcomed into the position with dishwasher malfunctions, a failed water softener, two computer crashes and needed building improvements, so many efforts concentrated on the facility. During her tenure, Praxmarer facilitated private rentals, events and fundraisers, working closely with coordinators to help make events like the River Run, Chocolate Fest and Youth Soccer run smoothly. She helped bring the Jensen Center two sold-out “Tonight Show” fundraisers (her husband, Matt’s creation) and has organized the annual Plant Sale fundraiser. She rallied to bring more classes to the Jensen Center, implementing affordable rates. She also has managed the Center’s bookkeeping, payables and receivables. When faced with challenges, her motto is “How can we make this work?” Cathy will say that she works more “behind the scenes”, but those of us working with Cathy know that she is our go-to person for Jensen Community Center/Community Spirit questions. “It is the team that makes it work,” says Praxmarer, “and the Jensen Center will be in most capable hands with Brent and Mariah, along with Chris Pehoski’s experience.” Cathy’s retirement plans include travel, spending time with family in Illinois and with grandchildren at her new vacation home in Michigan. We will miss her dearly and wish her all the best in her retirement.
After interviewing and deliberating, the Amherst Area Foundation Board has named Brent Frankenhoff as the next Executive Director and Mariah Singer-Brown as Director. Both positions will be effective on June 1, 2018.
Frankenhoff joined the Jensen Center staff in October 2016 as an office assistant and Community Spirit advertising manager and was promoted to Administrative Assistant in November 2017. With a Communications degree from UW-Platteville and more than 30 years of professional experience in broadcasting and print communications, he offers a fresh perspective on promoting Jensen Center activities and events. “My vision is to expand our outreach beyond what the area has come to expect from the Jensen Center over the past 30 years,” he said. “I want to bring more exposure to this jewel of the community with programs, events, and activities for people of all ages. With my pop culture knowledge and contacts as well as a ‘let’s try something new and different’ attitude, I think that can be accomplished.”
A resident of Iola for the past quarter-century, Frankenhoff and his wife, Kim, enjoy reading, movies, and music. Among his immediate plans are to sing on the Jensen Center stage with his Barbershop quartet, Regal Blend, at the Variety Show on April 7. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Singer-Brown is a recent addition to the Jensen Center staff, accepting the Marketing and Promotions position in November 2017. With a background in advertising and a degree in Public Communications from UW-Eau Claire, Mariah has brought a bold perspective to many aspects of the Jensen Center. Mariah lives in Amherst with her family and loves our community and all it has to offer. In her new role as Director of the Jensen Center, she will continue to coordinate private and public events held at the Center, in addition to helping create and sustain new and ongoing programming. She will also be the official liaison of the Center. "I welcome feedback from the community to share what they love about the Jensen Center and ideas for how we can improve." In addition to this part-time Director position at the Jensen Center, she is also Director of Camp HOPE, a weekend camp for grieving children and their families. You will find her at the Jensen Center, but also out in the community, working tirelessly on both of these non-profit organizations that are close to her heart. “I’d like to see the Jensen Center continue the vision that was put in place when it was created and also figure out ways to make sure the space is utilized to its full potential. I love to be here on days when the Center is filled with smiling faces and want to make sure that everyone who comes to the Center feels like they are at a place in which they belong.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Both Singer-Brown and Frankenhoff said they are grateful for the board’s faith in them, are looking forward to working together, and offer their thanks to Praxmarer and her predecessors for all of their efforts.