The 32nd annual Parents of the Year luncheon, honoring Steve and Melanie Booth and Rick and Sue Strait raised over $121,000 to benefit COA Youth & Family Centers on Thursday, June 19th. The event featured tributes to the Booths and Straits by their children, addresses from both honoree couples, a reading of congratulatory proclamations from Wisconsin elected officials, and a declaration from Mayor Tom Barrett announcing Thursday, June 19th as Steve and Melanie Booth and Rick and Sue Strait Day in the City of Milwaukee.
“Melanie and I are humbled to be recognized with this prestigious honor,” said Steve Booth, President and Chief Operating Officer of Baird. “COA Youth & Family Centers is a true asset to our community supporting educational programs that help parents, children and families to be their best. We are honored to be associated with COA and we are proud to support its mission.”
The luncheon, presented by Robert W. Baird & Co., the Northwestern Mutual Foundation, and Stephen and Shelagh Roell, raises funds to support COA’s continuum of educational, recreational, and social work programs. In recent years, COA’s Parents of the Year honorees have included Ann and Jon Hammes, Bonnie and Leon Joseph, Irma and John Daniels, Sue and Allan “Bud” Selig, Christy Brooks and Allen Silverstein, and Mary Ellen and Scott Stanek.
“It means so much to me and my wife Sue to be recognized with this distinction and to join the company of the many outstanding parents COA has recognized at this event,” said Strait, a 2014 Parent of the Year honoree and an officer on COA’s Board of Directors. “We greatly appreciate the support that our friends, colleagues, and Milwaukee’s business community have contributed to this event and to the mission of this organization,” said Strait.
Richard (Rick) Strait is a Managing Director of Private Equity Funds at the Northwestern Mutual Capital, LLC. He is a long-time board member and officer of COA Youth & Family Centers. Sue Strait is the past chair of the Harry and Rose Samson Jewish Community Center and a senior advisor on the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) Milwaukee Section Board, a partner and supporter of COA’s Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program. Ronald Miller, Managing Director at Cleary Gull and COA Youth Development Committee Co-Chair, and Susan Miller, Executive Committee Member of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation and Past President of the NCJW – Milwaukee Section, served as event co-chairs on behalf of Rick and Sue Strait.
Steve Booth is President and Chief Operating Officer and member of the boards of directors of Baird Financial Group and affiliated entities including Robert W. Baird & Co. Melanie Booth has served on the boards of Junior League, First Stage, Friends of the Milwaukee Public Museum, Tree of Life Pre-school, Junior Achievement Women’s Association, and the Middle and Upper School Advisory Councils for University School of Milwaukee. Mary Ellen Stanek, Managing Director – Director of Asset Management at Robert W. Baird & Co., and Scott Stanek, D.D.S. served as event co-chairs on behalf of Steve and Melanie Booth.
Both Baird and the Northwestern Mutual Foundation have long-standing traditions of giving back to the communities in which its associates live and work. In 2013, Baird Foundation provided more than $3 million in support to charitable organizations. It also administers a firm wide Charitable Gift Matching Program that provides a match for associates’ financial contributions to eligible nonprofit organizations. The “Baird Cares” program gives associates two additional paid days off each year to perform volunteer service. In 2014, more than 1,500 Baird associates and family members in more than 60 office locations participated in Baird Gives Back Week, a firm wide initiative to promote volunteerism.
The mission of the Northwestern Mutual Foundation is to improve the lives of children and families in need. The Foundation has given more than $260 million since its inception in 1992 and is designed to create lasting impact in the communities where the company’s employees and financial representatives live and work. This is accomplished by combining financial support, volunteerism, thought leadership and convening community partners to deliver the best outcomes. The Foundation’s efforts are focused nationally on curing childhood cancer, and locally on education, neighborhoods and making its hometown of Milwaukee a great destination.