Board of Directors
Brett Schilke | President (2011 – )
Brett began his involvement with the Fox Cities-Kurgan Sister Cities Program in 2003, coordinating youth programs in the Fox Cities. He has since served several years on the board of directors, volunteered as a Citizen Involvement Coordinator, and worked on staff as Program Director. Brett has traveled to Kurgan seven times and has spent a combined total of nearly 2.5 years living in our sister city. He conducted research in cross-cultural psychology at Kurgan State University, and has served as a visiting colleague in community development and applied linguistics at the post-secondary Academy of Labour and Social Relations in Kurgan since 2009. He is the former program director of a non-profit educational program operating in the Altai Region of Russia, and currently operates a small private company specializing in international program development. Brett has logged more than 500 hours on the Trans-Siberian Railroad and has spent time in a dozen cities throughout the country. He also brings diverse experience as the former CEO of a non-profit newspaper and as a youth and university educator in rural Transylvania.
Sue Toussaint | Vice-President
Susan has been involved with Fox Cities-Kurgan since 2000 and has been on the Board of Directors since 2005. Her primary interest is in citizen diplomacy – to promote peace, understanding, and empowerment for all to achieve individual and community well-being. She is particularly interested in women’s and children’s issues.
Barry O’Connor | Secretary
As principal of North High School, I helped organize and participate in the first secondary student exchange between our communities in 2002. Lasting friendships and great memories emerged from that opportunity for the many students and staff members who were involved. Having Slavic roots in my family and some background in the Russian language from college years, my continued participation in this wonderful organization was natural. I believe the Fox Cities-Kurgan Sister Cities Program epitomizes the understanding and mutual benefits that can come from friendly, person-to-person sharing of experiences, commonalities, hopes, and ideas. It accomplishes exactly what our world needs most to flourish in the future.
Montgomery “Monk” Elmer | Past President (2000 – 2010)
I believe in the ability of people and communities to make a difference outside their front door and around the world. The Fox Cities-Kurgan Sister Cities Program is a shining example of what “common, everyday citizens” can do to make their community better and the world a little safer. Our partnership has been a model for other communities. The foundation of that partnership is our friendship, relationships, and desire to work together – something that will stay with us always. I am honored to be a part of our work.
Chuck Lauter | Past President (1988-2000)
I am a retired Dean from Lawrence University in Appleton. For more than 31 years, I served as Dean of Student Affairs, Dean of Student Academic Life, Dean of Students, and Dean of International Studies. I spent almost 40 years as an administrator and teacher in small-size colleges, to which I am particularly devoted.
Ever since the time of the Vietnam War, I have been an anti-war peace activist. In the early 1980s, a group of like-minded individuals decided we needed to do more than just demonstrate against nuclear weapons, and the Sister Cities Program in Appleton was bord in 1984. I am a founding member of that partnership. After several years of false starts, the Kurgan relationship was established in 1990 and “the rest is history,” as they say. The Lawrence connection with Kurgan State University (KSU) is the longest active relationship in the Fox Cities-Kurgan Sister Cities Program, and as part of that relationship, I have taught at KSU for ten-week terms in 2001 and 2006.
Gary has traveled internationally several times to Russia and China as an advisor to Lawrence University, with students and as a delegate for New North, Inc., a collaborative effort among businesses and community leaders to promote cooperation and economic development in the 18-county region of Northeast Wisconsin. The purpose of these trips was to cultivate and establish relationships focused on import/export opportunities for northeastern Wisconsin businesses. Gary remains active in New North, Inc. as a volunteer member of their Small Business Committee and often works on special projects. He and his wife, Sharon, have traveled to Kurgan and have opened their home several times as hosts for Kurgan delegates visiting Appleton.
Marie Martin, Ph.D. is the Director of Global Education and Services at Fox Valley Technical College, where she oversees international partnerships in various technical programs, study abroad for students and faculty, global trade education programs on campus and in businesses, training in foreign languages and cultures for technical professionals, as well as English Language Learning programs.
Dr. Martin currently serves as the Project Director for FVTC’s federal grant programs from the US Department of State and the US Department of Education, focused on expanding international activities on campus. Prior to her position at FVTC, Marie was a professor of management at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. She alsotaught contemporary Russian literature at Northwestern University in Chicago, taught global cross-cultural management at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in undergraduate and graduate programs, and served as principal of The Multicultural Management Institute, providing training and consulting for organizations expanding in the areas of diversity management and global business relations. Marie received a BA and MA in Linguistics from the Moris Torez Institute of Foreign Languages in Moscow, Russia, and a MA and Ph.D. in Slavic Studies from the University of Chicago.
Mayor Tim Hanna