Board of Directors
Shelly Conrad, Board President
Occupation: K3 aide, St. Dominic Elementary School
Family: Married to John, sons Matthew, Eli and Silas
Why are you involved with CCC? I love the mission of this organization. What could be better than bringing joy to families at Christmas?
What drew you to this organization? A former co-worker invited me to a board meeting, knowing I enjoyed working with children and families. About 18 years later, I’m still with CCC!
What is your most rewarding experience from CCC? Besides being able to work with such a dedicated, big-hearted board, I most enjoy the opportunity to register clients at Toy Shop and be involved with giving away bikes. It is such an honor to welcome our clients to Toy Shop, to see their excitement, their nervousness and to hear their stories. I also love ordering the bikes, bringing the community together to assemble them and then watching parents discover they can gift their child a bike. Priceless!
Favorite memory/story about your time with CCC? At my first Toy Shop, I helped a mother choose gifts for her children. Her story was so touching, hearing how she could not have provided Christmas gifts to her children without the help of CCC. Her gratitude, despite her life challenges, was inspiring.
Lindsay Fischer, Vice President
Occupation: Executive recruiter
Why are you involved with CCC? I was introduced to CCC by my mom. For five years, my mother, two sisters and I volunteered as escorts at the annual Toy Shop. I asked a (former) board member one year if she needed help setting up Toy Shop the following year because it was always so rewarding. She invited me to the next board meeting and the rest is history.
What drew you to this organization? Growing up, my mom always made Christmas magical. Our house would be transformed for the holidays with fun music and amazing smells. Most years, we would sponsor a family through CCC or our church, so that my sisters and I could pick out toys for other children. It was part of our tradition and I keep that alive to this day.
What is your most rewarding experience from CCC? One of my first experiences volunteering as an escort, I saw someone I knew coming to Toy Shop to choose toys for their children. It made me remember that everyone is at risk of falling on hard times and needing some help. This is my way to help make sure that the holidays can be celebrated, no matter what a family is going through.
Favorite memory/story about your time with CCC? Three years ago, my mom and I sponsored a family with two girls. One of the girls wanted a stuffed unicorn. My mom and I spent an entire day together shopping to find anything and everything unicorn. After Christmas, the mom sent me a picture of her daughter surrounded by all her unicorn presents. She had the biggest smile I had ever seen, and that image will be with me forever.
Kathy Boxhorn, Secretary
Family: Daughters Chrissy and Becca
Why are you involved with CCC? I believe that life cannot be complete or worthwhile without giving back and helping others in some way, especially at Christmas.
What drew you to this organization? The Christmas Clearing Council is focused on helping families at my favorite time of year.
What is your most rewarding experience from CCC? I enjoy volunteering in the office, answering phones, explaining CCC potential sponsors, matching sponsors with client families and helping solve whatever problems occur. As I take these phone calls, I find myself so impressed by the kindness and generosity of our community. I am happy when I have the opportunity to take calls from members of client families, listen to and help alleviate their concerns.
Favorite memory/story about your time with CCC? Several years ago, I had the opportunity to read a thank-you note from the mother in one of our client families. She wrote that since her children had been born, she had not been able to afford Christmas trees or gifts for them. She had explained to her children why their Christmases were not like other people's Christmases, and they had understood. This particular year, however, she found she could afford a tree, and, as she had found Christmas Clearing Council, she would also be able to have gifts for her children under their first Christmas tree on Christmas morning. I think of that mother often - her wisdom, strength and love for her family.
Steve Berndt, Treasurer
Occupation: Software engineer 30+ plus years; vice president of Tewes Corporation for 18 years
Family: Wife Barb; son Matthew, daughter Elizabeth; five grandchildren
Why are you involved with CCC? I like the work that CCC does to make happy memories for children at Christmas.
What drew you to this organization? I wanted to get involved in a non-profit and it was suggested I look at CCC.
What is your most rewarding experience from CCC? Seeing how thankful and happy parents are to have presents for their children on Christmas morning.
Favorite memory/story about your time with CCC? At Toy Shop one year, we ran out of items in one of the areas. I told the client to take some extra items from another area. I was so impressed when the parents said they had enough and did not need any more.
Becky Brock, Past President
Occupation: Senior staff nurse at Norris Student Health Center at UW-Milwaukee
Family: Married to Dennis, two adult children
Why are you involved with CCC? I love that the work that we do is a true community-supported program. We are simply facilitators to ensure that the generosity of the community reaches those in need.
What drew you to this organization? The long history of CCC helping families right in the Waukesha County community. The efforts of our donors and volunteers have an immediate impact on our neighbors.
What is your most rewarding experience from CCC? My favorite is the handwritten notes from the families we help. They often include a drawing or note from the children. When they express gratitude for something like new underwear, it reminds me how the things we often take for granted can make them happy.
Favorite memory/story about your time with CCC? While delivering two bicycles to a family with elementary school-age children, we tried to sneak the bikes into the hiding spot the parents had chosen. The children were in their bedroom and were not supposed to be peeking. I saw them look out their window and spot the bikes. They looked at each other, with wide eyes and open mouths. I know the surprise might not have happened as intended, but I remember thinking, “I feel like Santa Claus!”
Hometown: Massachusetts native; have lived in Waukesha 41 years
Occupation: Director of Public Relations, Carroll University (retired)
Family: Husband Bo; adult sons Scott and Jarrod, grandsons Robbie and Xavier
Why are you involved with CCC? I believe God calls us to share what we have – whether it’s time, talent and/or treasure. CCC gives me the opportunity to help coordinate the sharing of gifts by thousands of community members with those who need them.
What drew you to this organization? I was asked to join the board in 2001 by a (now former) board member whose daughter played on the soccer team my husband coached.
What is your most rewarding experience from CCC? I love hearing about people who give to CCC because they were once recipients of Christmas gifts from other CCC donors.
Favorite memory/story about your time with CCC? Shortly after I joined the board, I started a sponsorship program with some colleagues at Carroll University. One year, I volunteered to deliver our gifts to one of our sponsored children, a 4-year-old boy. After work one day, I took the bag of gifts and went in search of his home. It was cold. It was snowing. It was dark. I was in an unfamiliar neighborhood where all the apartment buildings looked the same and I couldn’t see the address numbers on any of the buildings. I finally found the right apartment and knocked on the door. Immediately, I heard the joyful screech of a little boy – who ran to the door, opened it and grabbed the bag. His mom, who was raising him alone, told me her son would stand on the couch and peer out the window – lamenting because he didn’t have any snow pants so he could play in the snow. Her wish list for him had included snow pants. We bought him a pair – plus a warm jacket, boots, hat and mittens. I’ve often thought of that little boy – and the simple pleasure of a child playing in the snow. We made that happen!
Occupation: Daycare provider/owner - Donna’s Zoo Family Daycare
Family: Married to Don, two children, three grandchildren
Why are you invoked with CCC: I love Christmas and I love kids.
What drew you to this organization? I want to help kids have a great Christmas like I did growing up.
What is your most rewarding experience from CCC? Knowing that we are making kids smile on Christmas morning. For one day, they get a reprieve from worrying about life’s struggles.
Favorite memory/story about your time with CCC? My first year on the board, I misplaced my keys during one of our Toy Shop setup days. We found them eventually, but my fellow board members gave me a hard time about it. Every year since, someone brings up that incident. No one can let me forget it.
Occupation: Firefighter/paramedic – Waukesha Fire Department
Family: Married with two adult children, one grandson
Why are you involved with CCC? I started by sponsoring families through the Waukesha Fire Department, where I was the CCC project coordinator. The Fire Department now sponsors 20-30 kids annually.
What drew you to this organization? It is an organization near and dear to my heart.
What is your most rewarding experience from CCC? I love how grateful parents of sponsored kids are knowing that their children will have a great Christmas. Everyone is happy and families come together.
Favorite memory/story about your time with CCC? Once, while delivering gifts to a sponsored family, I was invited in for cookies and milk. While I enjoyed their hospitality, the parents told me their story. They had had a fire at their home and lost everything. They were living with in-laws while their home was being rebuilt. They had no money to spare and could not provide Christmas gifts for their children. They asked for winter clothing and a single toy. I was almost in tears listening to their story. Because of CCC, the kids had a great Christmas and received items they desperately needed.
Hometown: Jefferson, Wis.; Waukesha for 36 years
Occupation: Program director for Airgas USA, LLC
Family: Married to Mary; 5 children, 10 grandchildren
Why are you involved with CCC? This is a unique organization with a very special purpose, granting Christmas wishes to kids who might otherwise not see those wishes come true. I grew up in a large family and Christmas was always a very special time for us.
What drew you to this organization? I was originally invited to a board meeting to see what CCC was all about and it just stuck with me that I could contribute in several ways to help the organization succeed in its mission.
What is your most rewarding experience from CCC? Seeing the Toy Shop day come to life for families. I have always thought of that day as our clients “Black Friday” shopping day and something they can have fun doing. It’s heartwarming to be able to help provide a nice Christmas for their kids.
Favorite memory/story about your time with CCC? I think that when we actually get a chance to help escort a client family through the Toy Shop, you really get to see their reaction and joy of that day. That is what it is all about.
Mary Beth Winter
Occupation: Senior mental health counselor
Family: Married to Jamie; children Sean, 20, Kasey, 17, Aiden, 10 and Parker, 8. Stepchildren Taylor, 22, Logan, 21 and Jacob, 19
Why are you involved with CCC? I became involved because of CCC’s mission and how much everyone involved cares about our community and the families in it.
What drew you to this organization? I was drawn to CCC after volunteering at Toy Shop. I have been volunteering for more than eight years and now have the honor of being a board member. The volunteers, board members and staff are the most caring, generous, compassionate, energetic and dedicated group of individuals around.
What is your most rewarding experience from CCC? I truly love volunteering at Toy Shop and being able to bring my kids along to volunteer with me. We get the opportunity to meet the families, help them choose gifts for their children and see them smile from ear to ear as they pick out presents.
Favorite memory/story about your time with CCC? My colleagues and I decided one year to sponsor a family instead of doing an office gift exchange (we have continued this tradition for five years). We gathered our donations and I bought the gifts for two young children, a boy and a girl. My daughter and I delivered the gifts before Christmas and were greeted by the cutest kids. The parents, grandparents and kids invited us in for cookies and hot chocolate. The parents and grandparents were tearful and beyond thankful for all the gifts for the children. I felt truly blessed and lucky to have met such grateful and wonderful people and to be able to show my daughter the true meaning of Christmas - giving.
Sarah Hein, Executive Director
Occupation: Executive Director, CCC
Family: Married, three boys
Why are you involved with CCC? It’s important to find a cause that’s greater than yourself to work on personally, but also as a family. Everything we do at CCC stays local, so there’s a lot of pride in knowing what we do supports our neighbors close to home.
What drew you to this organization? CCC energizes the community every Christmas. For 70 years, we have used a grass-roots approach to engage the community and help those who have fallen on hard times. This energy is infectious and it's hard to not be inspired.
What is your most rewarding experience from CCC? In the end, after thousands of gifts have been distributed, hundreds of sponsorships have been facilitated and the office is again quiet, the feeling of knowing more than 4,000 children can smile on Christmas morning is priceless.
Favorite memory/story about your time with CCC? A family applied for our services, having just moved to the area. The movers they hired never arrived. Instead, they stole all the family’s belongings. The parents explained that their children really needed a computer – a used one would do, they said – to do schoolwork. The very next phone call to the CCC office was from a local computer business wanting to sponsor a family. When we told them of this family’s situation, they were not only able to provide them with gifts, but a new computer as well. The Waukesha County community has such a generous and grateful spirit.
Natalie Kranzman, Customer Service Coordinator
Hometown: Indiana native, but have lived in Hartland for many years
Family: Married with twin daughters, 13
Why are you involved with CCC? My family began sponsoring families as a way of helping within our local community. We’ve had such wonderful experiences with the organization that I jumped at the chance for more involvement.
What drew you to this organization? The direct impact the organization has on local families.
What is your most rewarding experience from CCC? Aside from sponsoring families in past years, I’ve already found several conversations with volunteers to very rewarding.
Andrea Landowski, Data Administrator
Hometown: I grew up in Milwaukee. When I was 12, we moved to Georgia. I moved back to Wisconsin in 2005.
Family: Married to my childhood sweetheart, Chris. We have a blended family with eight kids.
Why are you involved with CCC? I believe in what the organization stands for.
What drew you to this organization? I was looking for volunteer opportunities once my youngest started preschool and CCC grabbed my attention. My sister and I had been involved with a similar organization in Georgia.
What is your most rewarding experience from CCC? Knowing that our family is able to make it a little easier for another family at Christmas.
Deb Kucek, Office Administrator
Hometown: Southern Indiana native, but have lived in Waukesha for nearly 30 years.
Family: Married to Leo; three adult sons; one granddaughter
Why are you involved with CCC? I am trained as an engineer, and I have a great appreciation for efficient and effective operations. I remain amazed at what has evolved from the beginnings of this organization decades ago. The idea that we have a countywide system; that every deserving family has the opportunity to receive gifts for their children; that our sponsors and donors can be sure that their donations go to families who are truly in need - it all seems like such a simple idea. Clearly it isn’t, or every county in the country would be doing this!
What drew you to this organization? My first experience with CCC was when my middle son needed service hours for school and/or church. I encouraged him to sign up for Toy Shop, and I signed up, too, since he needed a ride to and from the shift.
As a kid, I saw family members who helped those in need, even when they themselves didn’t seem to have extras. I thought this service would be good for my son. I didn’t know how much it would impact me. After that first Toy Shop, I was hooked!
What is your most rewarding experience from CCC? I have been moved by the gratitude expressed by some families who have written notes of thanks to the office. Those heartfelt, and often emotional, thanks remind us all why we do this.
Favorite memory/story about your time with CCC? One year at Toy Shop, I arrived to volunteer for the second shift and I was assigned to the tween table. Tweens are hard enough to shop for, but donors don’t always think of them when giving to toy drives. The collection was not visually appealing. I have a friend who stages homes and does window treatments. I didn’t realize how much she had rubbed off on me. Twenty minutes into my shift, I had staged the remaining items such that families were able to find appropriate gifts for their kids.