The Alumni Association of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is proud to present their 2008 Distinguished Alumni Award to Brown County Executive Thomas J. Hinz.
Hinz was honored during the NWTC Educational Foundation's annual Donor Recognition and Scholarship Award Banquet held Wednesday, March 19. He was chosen because his "contributions to the college and the community are so broad-reaching that they are difficult to catalog," according to the award announcement, "yet he has served with inspiring energy, enthusiasm and good cheer."
Hinz graduated from NWTC's Law Enforcement program in 1976 and began a distinguished career with the Green Bay Police Department, including six years as Assistant Police Chief. He was the first recipient of the Wisconsin Attorneys General Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award and was awarded the police department's first Medal of Valor for jumping into the Fox River to save a woman who attempted suicide. In 1996, he became Brown County Sheriff. In 2000, he retired and began teaching at NWTC as an adjunct faculty member. Soon afterward, he was hired as NWTC's first Security Manager, where he began a program to increase diversity in law enforcement. In April of 2007, he took office as Brown County Executive.
"Without going to NWTC under the G.I. Bill, I wouldn't be where I am today," Hinz said recently. "It opened a lot of doors for me, and whetted my appetite for continuing education." He said many people didn't stress the need for education in the 1960s and 1970s, but lifelong learning has become critical to developing the new skills and new perspectives needed for an employee (and an economy) to remain current. He is still continuing his education, pursuing a bachelor's degree at UW-Green Bay.
"I just think NWTC is really a jewel in our community," Hinz said. "Whether you're looking for economic development, welding, marketing, or law enforcement, NWTC can retool itself a lot faster than some other institutions and stay contemporary."
Hinz has also been a tireless volunteer for the community. He serves on the boards of several community organizations including Golden House, United Hmong and Asian American Community Center, the Crime Prevention Foundation and Special Olympics of Wisconsin. He recently returned from Seattle, where he discussed ways to improve relations with tribal leaders. And his concern for the people he met during his law enforcement career has created relationships that have endured for many years.
He also started a scholarship fund at NWTC to help students earn their high school equivalency diploma and to help them go on to college degree programs at NWTC.
For over 16 years, the NWTC Alumni Association has honored outstanding NWTC graduates for their professional achievements, community service, and contributions to technical education. To nominate a graduate or learn more, contact the NWTC Educational Foundation office, (920) 498-5541.