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ESTHER’s 2023 Individual Leadership Award: Connie Kanitz

Connie KanitzConnie Kanitz puts community into all her organizing. As a member of the Communications Committee, Connie publishes some of the stories on ESTHER’s website, writes blogs, and creates some of our famous eblasts. She also submits ESTHER events in the “Justice HUB,” a section of the weekly newsletter of the Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

“I am grateful for the opportunities to hear people’s stories. I am convinced the more we help people tell their stories and get the right people to hear those stories, we can make some phenomenal changes.”

—Connie Kanitz

Believing that public transportation is related to so many justice and equity issues, and it connects some individuals to major functions of their lives, such as work, education, healthcare, shopping, friends and community gatherings, she served the Transportation Task Force as a member and then chair, over six years. In addition to testifying at State and local budget hearings, under her leadership the group published and helped distribute a booklet highlighting stories of bus riders. 

Understanding that transit can be the number one factor in lifting people out of poverty, she participated in three other transportation-focused groups: Coalition for More Responsible Transportation in WI (CMRT), Fox Valley Thrives, and East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (ECWRPC). She’s also passionate about how trains could impact all of our lives.

After completing Gamaliel Training, she served as Secretary of the ESTHER board and a member of the Executive Committee for four years. Co-chairing with Sara Companik, she helped organize and “spreadsheet” three Madison Action Days. Because of COVID, 2021 involved coordinating teams of people to zoom with their state senator and representative. Connie is also a frequent participant in actions and educational events in Madison. In 2022 she helped organize ESTHER’s ambitious plan for voter engagement. Although not achieving the hoped-for outcome, it did include some fun and successful postcard campaigns. ESTHER and the community are clearly better because of Connie Kanitz.

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