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Meet a Badger: Barbara Maldonado ’00

1. What is your hometown?
I try to keep a close connection to my extended family in Puerto Rico, so my first hometown is Ponce, Puerto Rico, where many of my relatives still live. My second hometown is Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where my family lived during my high school years and I lived after college. My mom and one of my brothers and his family still live there.

2. Which years did you attend the UW?
I attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison from 1995 to 2000.

3. What was your major and what degree did you obtain?
Bachelor of arts in political science, 2000

4. Where do you live now?
I live in Peoria, IL.

5. Describe your current job and career path?
Since graduating from UW-Madison, my career has been spent in the marketing field. I began my career in experiential marketing, activating music and sports sponsorships for brands such as Miller Brewing Company, Philip Morris, and American Eagle Outfitters. It was an exciting way to start one’s career, but I realized that to keep on growing and evolving, I needed to step out of experiential and start exploring the emerging world of digital marketing. In 2006, I hung up my backstage passes and pivoted my career to digital marketing. I had to take a step back to take a step forward to learn a brand new and quickly evolving digital marketing landscape. I had the opportunity to learn and grow my digital experiences with brands such as Kraft Foods, McDonald’s, Allstate Insurance, Symantec, and Pernod Ricard. I continued pushing and challenging myself as new ways to engage with consumers emerged and focused on marketing strategy and social media marketing from 2010 – 2018. I earned the opportunity to build social media teams and work on special projects with the National Football League, as well launching several social media strategies as campaigns for Discovery Network, AT&T, Family Dollar, and many others. It was in those eight years that I was able to launch capabilities and lead teams across multiple offices and countries, I became as advisor to key clients and honed my leadership experiences. In 2019, I completed my master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University which set me up for my next career pivot, which took my marketing strategy experiences to the corporate side of the house as the Director of MarCom Strategy and Engagement at Caterpillar, Inc. In my role, I lead the in-house marketing agency’s strategy, account management, and digital media teams ensuring that we are focused on supporting our clients achieve their marketing objectives. In many ways my current role is a build up for the last twenty-two years of professional experience, but it also marks a new challenging chapter that provides learning and growth every day.

6. What is your favorite Badger memory?
For several years I was a part of the UW’s Model United Nations team. To raise funds to go to New York and represent the University of Wisconsin – Madison, my best friend and I scooped ice cream during Men’s and Women’s Basketball games at the Kohl Center. One weekend, my dad drove up from Milwaukee to help us scoop ice cream. We had so much fun trying to “out scoop” each other. He, like me, felt the butter pecan flavor was the best!  It is a very special memory as he recently passed away. He never missed an opportunity to tell me how proud he was that I went to Madison and he would wear his UW-Dad baseball cap long after I had graduated.

7. How would you describe your education from UW?
I am incredibly grateful for my University of Wisconsin education. I was able to explore every subject I was interested in from International Relations to Romantic Literature, to an entire class dedicated to my favorite author, Jane Austen. I was able to fill my thirst for knowledge about international politics and post WWII diplomacy. Additionally, the European Union was still formalizing when I was in college, so I was learning from the professors who were advising governments on how to best proceed. It was an absolutely, mind-expanding, and exhilarating adventure.

8. What is your involvement with the WAA: HOI alumni chapter?
I previously served as Philanthropy Chairperson. I loved being a part of bringing fellow Badgers together to do good in our community. It was exciting to be a part of the team that established our standing relationship with Ronald McDonald House. I definitely enjoy the opportunity to come together with other alumni to celebrate UW.

9. Do you have any hobbies?  If so, please describe one.
One of my favorite hobbies is to travel. My favorite destination is New York City. I love getting lost in the busy energy of the city, yet find those hidden away coffee shops and bookstores where time can stand still. I never tire of the swirling walk up the Guggenheim or the winding trails of Central Park. My favorite time to visit is during the holidays where the city lights up with magic and the air is filled with a sense of joy like none other.

10. What is a fun fact which people may not know about you?
During my freshman year at Madison, I worked autograph signing events for several Green Bay Packers, including Brett Favre!