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The mentor I never realized I had

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Cathy Dworak, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Board of Trustees chairperson
Cathy Dworak, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Board of Trustees chairperson

For Cathy Dworak, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Board of Trustees chairperson and director of community outreach and player/alumni relations with the Packers, the College is more than just a community organization – it is like a family. A 1988 graduate of the Marketing and Fashion Merchandising program and mother of two NWTC alumni, Dworak has deep ties to the institution and firmly believes in its mission. 

“NWTC is mission driven, intensely focused on student success, belonging, and continuous improvement,” said Dworak. “Just being present on campus and feeling the passion of the faculty and staff motivates me.”

Much of that motivation and inspiration comes directly from NWTC president Dr. Jeffrey Rafn. He inspires Dworak to remain open-minded and impartial, foster transparency and inclusion in decision making, and respond to the changing demands of higher education. These traits have allowed him to successfully lead the College through two referendums, an overhaul of program offerings through the transition to shorter terms with 8-Week Advantage, the creation of a new division to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and so much more.

“The high-performing culture of NWTC starts at the top, and you can feel Jeff’s fierce commitment to student success and innovation,” said Dworak. “I constantly learn from him and leave our interactions feeling inspired to take back new practices and ideas to my own team.”

As an institution of higher education, NWTC is responsible for sharing knowledge and inspiring all people to continue learning – no matter what stage of their personal or professional journey. Dworak knows this starts by hiring top talent that believes in the mission and brings out the best in students. 

“I love the work NWTC has done around inclusion in the hiring process. Getting input from direct reports, including a diverse set of voices, and maintaining high levels of transparency ensures future talent will thrive.”

The board members guide the College’s direction and ensure graduates have the skills necessary to fill vacancies in the workforce and stimulate local economic prosperity. This includes understanding the dynamics between higher education and industry as well as the needs of the broader community, which Dworak has seen Dr. Rafn balance for over 25 years.

“For decades, Jeff has built the success of NWTC,” said Dworak. “If not for him and his vision, strong leadership, and unwavering commitment to students, I do not know where we would be.”