BS’75, University of North Carolina, Greensboro
MS’78, School of Education, UW-Madison
Paula Bonner is president of the Wisconsin Alumni Association, where she has served as the organization’s chief executive since January 2000. Since joining WAA in 1989, Paula has also served as associate executive director, chief operating officer and chief financial officer.
In leading WAA, now a division of the Wisconsin Foundation & Alumni Association, Paula ensures the association brings innovation and the alumni voice to programs, services and communications that are relevant and meaningful to UW-Madison’s more than 400,000 alumni.
In addition to her position as president, Paula is also part of the Chancellor’s Leadership Council and the executive group overseeing advancement for UW-Madison.
She is the 2014-16 president of the Council of Alumni Association Executives (CAAE), comprised of chief alumni relations officers representing 95 member universities from the United States and Canada, including all institutions of the Big Ten and PAC Ten, and most ACC institutions.
She is also a past member of the Commission on Communications for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). She is the recipient of the first alumni relations fellowship from CAAE.
Under Paula’s leadership, the Wisconsin Alumni Association marked a yearlong celebration of its 150th anniversary, which culminated with the gift of Alumni Park, to be complete in 2017, along with Goodspeed Family Pier at Alumni Park and the future One Alumni Place. Paula is leading the team to realize this vision for a transformed lakeshore that welcomes alumni, and celebrates their impact and legacy.
In the Madison community, where she lives with her partner of 22 years, Ann Schaffer; Paula is vice chair of Capitol Lakes Board of Directors; a member of Tempo International, the Madison Club, and Bascom Hill Society. Paula was honored with the Madison Civics Club Advocate Award in 1999.
Prior to joining WAA, Paula was UW-Madison’s associate athletic director, with responsibility for directing the eleven sports that comprised the women’s athletics program. Title IX had just been passed in June 1972, while Paula was an undergraduate and student athlete at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, where she earned a degree in physical education and coaching. Paula came to Madison in 1976 to earn her master’s degree in higher education and physical education with the goal of moving into intercollegiate athletic administration.
Paula is a proud lifetime member of the Wisconsin Alumni Association.