Meet the Board: 6 Questions with Judy Kishel

3/29/24 by Judy Kishel
Judy Kishel

The Meet the Board spotlight helps Wilder's community get to know the members of our Board of Directors. In this spotlight, we catch up with Board Chair Judy Kishel, who shares her deep connection to our mission, why she likes the word 'thrive', and what she enjoys doing in her spare time.

1. How long have you been on the Wilder Board?

I was first elected to the Board in 2015, so this is my ninth year on the Board. 

2. How did you first hear about Wilder, and what drew you to get involved?

Since I was born and raised in Saint Paul, Wilder was a known entity, but I was unsure of its purpose and mission. That changed in the 70’s, when I joined a women’s organization, the Junior League of Saint Paul, that funded, with grants and volunteers, several Wilder projects over the years. Historically, many Junior League members have volunteered and/or served as Wilder Board members, and several have preceded me as Board Chair.

3. What does your work mean to you?

My greatest hope is that I am a contributor, a networker, an enabler and a facilitator in helping Wilder on its journey to adapting and evolving new ways of serving and assisting families in our community’s progress.

4. What part of Wilder’s vision/mission resonates the most with you?

First, I want to recognize the contributions from every level of Wilder over the last couple of years that helped shape our Values, Mission and Vision statements. It was a thought-provoking, arduous process. It was worth it! The word “thrive” is used in all three statements. I like that we are unified in providing services that will help people grow, develop well, prosper and get and stay healthy and strong – thrive! 

5. With all your experiences with Wilder and giving back, what’s been your favorite memory or moment of impact?

There have been so many! There are great stories with every one of the Wilder programs. 

I have participated in three Homeless Studies, and I have always marveled at how much thought, planning, grant-writing, fundraising, recruitment and training of volunteers, and organizational and logistical coordination it takes to pull off this one-day, multi-site, data-collection event every three years. And then, there is follow-up with a detailed analysis of the gathered information and finally, sharing and providing the findings to state, counties, cities, towns and the public to help them understand the size and scope of homelessness in their communities, free. What an extraordinary gift. 

I also think about several friends who have spouses or partners with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s Diseases and they participate in Wilder support groups. These friends have been very impressed with and grateful for the great training and the opportunity to gather with others to share information, resources and experiences. Some have even joined the advisory committees and some have become generous donors. 

Lastly, I find the awarding of the annual Kingston Fellowships very heart-warming. To be able to support the Wilder Staff in reaching their work and personal goals is very satisfying. Many thanks to Tom Kingston, past President and CEO of Wilder, for his smart and caring vision.   

6. What are some of your favorite things to do in your free time?

Of course, I love time with my family, husband Edward, son Graig, daughter-in-law Amy, and granddaughters Lyla (14) and Fiona (12). I was an avid golfer up until a couple of years ago when I developed some back issues. Hopefully, those will be corrected soon and I will play again. Also, I love to travel, live theater, sports, needlepointing (I stitched the cover for a bench cushion for the National Cathedral in Washington D.C.), origami, bridge and my 36-year-old, all-women investment club, InSecurities.


Meet Wilder's Leadership

Wilder's Board of Directors stewards the mission of Wilder so we can improve lives today and for generations to come.