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New major gifts officer joins Foundation; staff changes announced

RELEASED: June 23, 2011

Mark Helmke
Mark Helmke

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Foundation has hired a new major gifts officer who will connect with the more than 15,000 UW-Eau Claire alumni who reside in the Twin Cities area.

Mark Helmke, a 1986 graduate of UW-Eau Claire, began his duties June 20. He primarily will be responsible for working with the university's alumni and friends in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area as well as in the northwestern region of the United States.

Helmke has had a successful 13-year sales career in the transportation industry. In 1997 he purchased a Madison-based delivery company and grew it into a five-state regional carrier before selling the business. Now he said he looks forward to meeting fellow alumni and making an impact on his alma mater.

"It has been 25 years since I graduated from Eau Claire, but I still feel that same calmness today that I felt back then when I walk across the footbridge," said Helmke, who earned a bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in business administration. "This position means a lot to me because I want to make an impact on students and their families. Although I worked almost full time to pay for school, I believe it is important for a student to be able to enjoy the experience as well. My hope is that I can bring a balance to some by working with our alumni to invest in their future."

According to Helmke, who originally is from Edina, Minn., although he moved from the area 14 years ago, he calls the Twin Cities home. He said he looks forward to spending time reconnecting with alumni in the area.

Other recent changes in the Foundation office include the promotions of Kyle Buchmann to associate director of major gifts; Diane Doudna to planned giving coordinator/major gifts officer; and Nicole Poehling to director of annual giving.

"All of these moves are intended to position the Foundation to better support the university in generating resources, especially in preparation for celebrating the university's 100th Anniversary in 2016," said Kimera Way, Foundation executive director. "We are growing our staff because we recognize that the Foundation's role in the university being able to achieve its vision over the next several years will be critical.

"I am pleased to welcome Mark to our staff and am grateful that we have so many talented individuals willingly taking on new responsibilities."

The Foundation is responsible for raising funds to support the level of excellence in teaching, learning and service for which UW-Eau Claire is known and cannot maintain with federal and state support alone. Each year the UW-Eau Claire Foundation provides more than $3.7 million to the university to support programs and projects ranging from scholarships and faculty development to facility enhancements and equipment.

Mark Helmke can be reached at 715-590-4023 or helmkemd@uwec.edu. For more information about the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, contact Kimera Way, executive director, at 715-836-5180, or waykk@uwec.edu.

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RD/DW

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