2016 Award Recipients

Young Women in Public Affairs:

Abigail Thompson, Milwaukee High School of the Arts

Also recipient of the District 6 YWPA Award

Abigail Thompson was one of three valedictorians for the Class of 2016 at the Milwaukee High School of the Arts and is now studying acting and education at Columbia College Chicago.


For her speech “We must act now!”, advocating the arts in education, Abigail won 1st Place in the 32nd annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Speech Contest. In 2015, she placed 1st in University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Wisconsin Women Making History Essay Contest and was the State Champion in the Poetry Out Loud Competition.

She has served as President of the National Honor Society at the Milwaukee High School of the Arts; President of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater Teen Council Leadership Board; and Representative for the United Performing Arts Fund, chosen to attend the Arts Day Conference in Madison to speak with state legislators, community volunteers, politicians, educators and business leaders regarding The Creative Economy Development Initiative.  

She has appeared in productions by the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, First Stage Children’s Theater, African American Children’s Theater, Milwaukee Youth Theater and Morning Star Productions, and the Milwaukee High School of the Arts.

Her work for social justice – which she plans to continue through a career in the theater – already includes working on a documentary on racial issues in the Washington Park neighborhood; leading workshops that address issues of gun violence through spoken words and poetry; mentoring children at the African American Children’s Theater; and performing in social justice plays such as Glory Rising, which focused on sex trafficking and child slavery in Malawi.


Jane M. Klausman Women in Business:

Kelley Hickman, Alverno College

Kelley Hickman is an entrepreneur and a student at Alverno College. She was a school bus driver for 11 years and now owns her own company, Beautiful Endeavors Transportation LLC.

In 2011, she enrolled in Alverno College, where is majoring in Business Management. She launched her business in 2013, and applies her classroom learning to her business, and vice versa. She exhibits leadership among students, sharing her knowledge and her enthusiasm for growth. Last year, Kelley spoke at the YWCA on empowering women. After earning her bachelor’s degree, Kelley plans to obtain a master’s of business.

A single mother who began college at the age of 37 and is now running her own business, Kelley is pursuing her degree one class at a time. Kelley calls returning to school “the best decision of my life.” “I am no longer a woman without dreams; I am filled with a world of possibilities, and have a plan of one day motivating others,” she writes. “Beautiful Endeavors is the first business I birthed, and will be the business that helps labor another. I plan on operating a center called KELLEYCARES, and helping others fulfill their dreams.”

Jane M. Klausman Women in Business (runner-up):

Autumn Hackbarth, Wisconsin Lutheran College

Autumn Hackbarth is a Business Management & Leadership major at Wisconsin Lutheran College, expecting to graduate in December 2016. She holds an associate’s degree in Landscape Horticulture from Milwaukee Area Technical College and works at M|Group Holdings, Inc. / M|RED Management, Inc. in facility and property management.

Autumn is recognized by her employer for creating procedures and efficiencies. As Operations Manager, she is responsible for day-to-day management of more than 3 million square feet of commercial real estate, including coordination of repairs, maintenance, capital improvements and tenant relations.

Autumn is pursuing her degree to further improve the efficiency of the company’s commercial property management department and to be a leader, not just a manager, to employees. “My goal is to serve my employees so they can better serve our clients,” she writes.

 “One of the most important things that I have learned thus far in the program is to work with my strengths and to surround myself with people that can fill in where I am weak….Our team could then be strong together and play off of each other’s strengths.”

Autumn volunteers through her company’s charitable arm, M|BRACE, and serves on the M|BRACE committee. She has regularly read at Hayes Bilingual Elementary School, served breakfast at St. Benedict the Moor Community Meal program, gardened and picked produce for Victory Gardens, and participated in Stuff the Bus. She also volunteers as a Southeast Wisconsin Master Gardener. In addition to work, school and volunteering, Autumn balances family life and being a mother.

Women in STEM: Carla Echeveste,

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Carla Echeveste, a graduate of Alverno College with majors in accounting, mathematics and Spanish, is currently pursuing post-baccalaureate pre-medical studies at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Carla wants to “make her mark on the world by empowering minority women in the Hispanic community.”  Visits to her parents’ “poverty-stricken roots of León, Guanajuato [Mexico] quickly became the catalyst in sparking my desire for an education as a bridge to help my Hispanic community.” Her career goal is to become a doctor.

As Student Vice President of UWM’s American Medical Student Association, Carla helps coordinate medical school visits, panels and physician speakers. And as a member of the Rural and Urban Scholars program in Community Health at UWM, she mentors and works with many individuals who are homeless and without health insurance. She is also a participant and Library Staff member of WiscAMP, whose mission is to enhance learning opportunities for minority students majoring in STEM disciplines. Carla keeps fellow students informed about campus and program resources and opportunities and last year led a group of students to the WiscAMP Sudent Leadership Conference in Madison. She is the lead pre-med coordinator for Global Medical Brigades, organizing a trip to Honduras for 2017; a student member of the Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee; and a member of Abriendo Puertas and Alverno Young Alums. In her free time, she performs salsa routines with Alma Milwaukee, a Latina dance organization.

Beyond her goal of becoming physician, Carla aims to “emphasize the sciences in predominantly low-income schools for girls and create traveling classroom workshops that align with science curriculums and thereby positively influence our youth’s minds.” She envisions “partnering with Zonta Club of Milwaukee and key community organizations to make this possible.”

She describes the Zonta Club of Milwaukee Women in STEM Scholarship as “a long-term reciprocal investment which will allow me to focus on my studies and address gaps in knowledge with my personal goal to return and help heal my Milwaukee community, equipped with an advanced degree. It is with these intentions that I aspire to embody the definition of our Hispanic culture – first by becoming a physician and second by empowering young girls into the sciences through advocacy, service-learning and education.”