Forward under 40

Paula Bonner MS'78, president and chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Alumni Association.

On behalf of the Wisconsin Alumni Association, I’m proud to recognize the 2017 Forward under 40 Award honorees — eight alumni under the age of 40 who are living the Wisconsin Idea. In other words, they’re leveraging the benefits of their UW education to better their cities, states, nation, and even the world.

UW–Madison has long been known for its emphasis on public service, but I honestly can’t recall a group of recipients who have had such a strong thread of public service running through their young careers. From starting an organization to overcome national-government gridlock, to fighting the Zika virus on a global scale, to directing a large social-services agency in San Diego, these Badger alumni are finding fulfillment in using their talents to help others.

I was inspired and energized to learn about the accomplishments of all of our nominees this year, so as usual, it was hard to narrow down the honorees among such an exceptional group of alumni.

If you feel equally inspired by a young Badger grad and would like to nominate him or her for next year’s award, visit

On, Wisconsin!

Paula Bonner MS’78
WAA President and CEO

2017 Honorees