Business of the Week: North Central Wisconsin Community Foundation

Pilot and review of Wausau

Editor’s Note: Company of the week is a sponsored article that shares the stories of locally owned and operated businesses in the Wausau area, highlighting the products and services they offer and how they contribute to the unique flavor of the metropolitan area. Learn how to present your business by emailing

The Wausau Company featured this week is an organization that connects people, passion and resources for maximum local impact – the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin. Led by President and CEO Tim Parker, the Foundation has a clear mission: to improve the quality of life for residents of north-central Wisconsin. The organization acts as a catalyst to design programs and identify issues in collaboration with other foundations, businesses, organizations and communities, while responsibly managing philanthropic assets. The leadership team includes Karla Lodhoz, Director of Donor Services, a donor’s first connection to setting up a fund as a way to fulfill their philanthropic wishes and give back to the community. Another key leader is Program Officer Sue Nelson, with 33 years of experience managing grants and strengthening nonprofit organizations. Together, they engage in creative and responsive grantmaking to enrich the communities they serve – with particular emphasis on education, the arts, health and social services, and the preservation of historic resources, cultural and natural. Simply put, the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin offers people a variety of simple, safe and effective ways to “give back” to their communities, strengthening all aspects of life in our area for generations to come. Here is their story.

Q: When was the organization created?

A: On January 22, 1987, the Wausau Area Community Foundation was formed by a group of visionary individuals from the community (including names like John Ullrich, Stan Staples, Dwight Davis, Bart Kellnhauser, David Grade, Jim Lundberg, Mac McCormick and Caroline Mark) who saw the need to build an endowment for the maintenance, improvement and enrichment of the greater Wausau area and Marathon County. The purpose of the Foundation is to connect the passions of people who want to give with the needs of nonprofit organizations for impact in the local community.

Since its inception, the geographic scope of the Foundation’s work has extended to communities beyond Marathon County, such as Merrill, Antigo, Minocqua, Boulder Junction and Three Lakes. The Foundation’s name has been changed to Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin, to better reflect the donors we serve.

With 35 years of experience, the Community Foundation leads and inspires philanthropy to improve the quality of life for generations to come. The Community Foundation currently has over $ 85 million in assets and prudently manages 431 different funds. Through its commitment to excellence in donor investment, the Foundation received $ 6.3 million from donors in 2021 and distributed over $ 7.4 million to support nonprofits across our region.

Q: What makes the Community Foundation unique?

A: The field of community foundations is one of the fastest growing philanthropic sectors in the United States. Community foundations build and strengthen communities in multiple ways, including providing the means for a wide range of donors to create funds to meet critical needs. Although the first community foundation was started over 100 years ago in Cleveland, Ohio, today there are more than 750 community foundations in the United States.

Through professional stewardship of donated assets, the Community Foundation is built to last and be a continuing force in north central Wisconsin. This ensures stability and longevity, and that all donations and funds will be used as the donor intended.

The Community Foundation, as the name suggests, is a foundation for the community – or the community savings account. Assets totaling over $ 85 million have been accumulated over time through donations from many sources – individuals, businesses and foundations. The Community Foundation allows anyone to be a donor. Through the generosity of our donors, we support programs and organizations that improve every aspect of life in our region for generations to come. The income is used to support projects and programs, like the 400 Block, the Riverfront development, JoJo’s Jungle and many more that make it a more vibrant and livable community.

In addition to being a source of funding, the Community Foundation is a leader in our non-profit sector. A healthy nonprofit sector is essential for building a vibrant and livable community. The Community Foundation is committed to supporting our nonprofit sector by providing information and educational resources, networking opportunities with one another, and financial support for their important work.

Q: As an organization, what are you most proud to accomplish?

The Community Foundation prides itself on being a community connector. We are proud that in 35 years the Community Foundation has awarded more than $ 89 million in total to charities in Marathon County and beyond.

Q: Has anything changed since the founding of the Foundation?

A: The mission of the Community Foundation has not changed over time – we continue to play a role in improving the quality of life in our region. Our strength as a community foundation is reflected in our ability to adapt to the needs of the community as they arise through our funding sources. Our donors are a true reflection of the community and we thank them for responding to relevant and urgent needs.

In the first year of Community Foundation disbursements, we provided $ 82,000. By 2021 that number has grown to $ 7.4 million – we can only grow from there through the generosity of our donors.

Q: What are your hopes and dreams for the future? Where do you see the Foundation heading?

A: Our vision is to be seen as a leader in North Central Wisconsin in identifying and supporting the needs of the community. We’re uniquely positioned to help individuals and businesses understand where philanthropy can make the best impact to make North Central Wisconsin the best place to visit and live. We will continue to help donors know where their giving can go and prepare nonprofits in the region to maximize their impact.

Next year, we’re heading towards $ 100 million in assets under management and up to $ 10 million in annual grant distribution. We see this as an exciting milestone for our 35th year in business.

Over the next 5-10 years, we intend to increase awareness of what a community foundation can do for the community. As people in the area become more aware of our work, we expect accelerated growth both in and beyond Marathon County.

Connect with the North Central Wisconsin Community Foundation

  • Address: 500 1st St. Suite 2600, Wausau, WI 54403
  • Phone: 715-845-9555
  • Online at |

James C. Tibbs