Kathy Strong-Twohig '92
Alumni Association - posted on 11/20/2009
Kathy Strong-Twohig's educational and career path has taken some interesting twists and turns, bringing her to the place she is today, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Fond du Lac County and the owner Strong Designs, an interior design business.
In the late 1980s, Kathy was working as the MIS Director at Ripon Medical Center with an associate degree from Moraine Park Technical College in computer programming. "I knew that I wanted to get my bachelor's degree. RMC offered an educational scholarship, and I choose Lakeland College for its reputation, extended classroom location and transferable credits."
Taking two-three classes per semester at Lakeland's Fox Cities Center, Kathy completed her bachelor's in business administration and computer programming in five years. She left RMC to earn a degree in interior design from Fox Valley Technical College.
Kathy married in 1994 and started working as an interior designer in the family business, Twohig Furniture and Flooring. Simultaneously, she was on the board of directors for the Fond du Lac Humane Society, and honed her fundraising skills by creating a number of successful events including Pawsatively a Ball, Santa Paws
photos, and Take a Hike Pet Walk
Kathy was hired to lead Habitat for Humanity of Fond du Lac in 2004, which put her fundraising skills, ability to multi-task and experience with volunteers to good use. Thanks to her interior design degree, she was familiar with reading blueprints, which was important when working with area builders and understanding timelines for house construction. "I came to HFH with many contacts from the Home Builders Association and also the FDL Association of Commerce, reinforcing the value of becoming involved in the community and the importance of networking."
Two years ago, Kathy had the vision to write the business plan to open the ReStore and she now oversees the work of two employees and numerous volunteers. Ten of the 17 houses built by HFH since it began in Fond du Lac in 1996 have been built during Kathy's five-year tenure. In 2010, two more houses will be built, thanks to a recently secured Thrivent Builds grant.
Kathy was born and raised in Fond du Lac and grew up as the youngest of five, borrowing money from her parents to attend MPTC. "It gave me the value of earning good grades and striving to be the best that I could. I went on to graduate with honors from Lakeland.
"Lakeland's curriculum was well rounded and the instructors were knowledgeable, not only in their topics, but also in their life experiences that they often shared. The intimacy of the smaller classes gave students the privilege of getting to know our instructors as real people.
"I really miss the late night studying and camaraderie of my classmates. Driving the 100 miles a night to work, school and back home … not so much! Looking back, it is hard to believe that I had enough time in my day." Kathy was working full-time at Ripon Medical Center while working on her Lakeland degree, and also teaching water aerobics three days a week and working at the health club desk at The Ramada Plaza Hotel in Fond du Lac. "Working at the counter did allow me the chance to just stay put long enough to do homework."
In 2005, Kathy graduated from the Fond du Lac Leadership program, and at the 2009 graduation ceremony was honored with the Donald G. Jones leadership alumni award. This award recognizes the efforts of a leadership alumnus for their efforts in the Fond du Lac area through volunteer service and leadership.
Kathy's involvement in the community is impressive. She is a team captain and a member of the board of directors of Loaves and Fishes. She is a member of Women in Management of Fond du Lac, Noon Kiwanis, and she volunteers her time at the Fond du Lac Humane Society, Windhover Center for the Arts, Relay for Life and the Fond du Lac Volunteer Center. She also participates in Leaders as Readers and the Home Builders Association of Fond du Lac and Dodge Co.
"I truly believe that giving back to my community is a privilege to me. I have the opportunity to donate my time, talents and treasure. I have also been blessed with many friendships."
To those just graduating, Kathy says, "I cannot stress enough the importance of getting involved. It is easy to choose what you love, but take that extra step and go outside of your comfort zone to become involved in something that will challenge you, and with it will come personal growth."
Kathy Strong-Twohig clearly has put into practice her own good advice. You can contact Kathy at email@example.com
. To learn more about HFH visit www.habitatfdl.org
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