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Meet a Badger — Joan Freitag ’77

Joan Freitag

What is your hometown?

I was born and grew up in Madison. My Grandpa Henry Hunt was a professor in the UW Engineering Department.

Which years did you attend UW?

From 1974 to 1977.

What was your major and what degree did you obtain?

B.S. in Home Economics Journalism.
I also have an M.A. in Communications from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Describe your current job and career path?

I worked as a journalist for a few years and then branched out into technical writing and public relations. I ended up writing a lot in the engineering profession because there was a demand for science/technical writing. I even edited an engineering textbook together with a UW professor. I wrote and edited a variety of newsletters including the UW Department of Engineering Professional Development publication, Practice Management and Marketing, and Dental Care Marketing. I wrote a book on professional services marketing in 1989. I also coordinated the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon, including doing fundraising, managing 500 volunteers and scripting 27 hours of live TV. Then I began working for Hanson Professional Services Inc., where I work today. Hanson is a 500-person consulting firm, providing engineering and scientific services across a wide array of markets. I started there working in marketing and public relations, but ended up leading their federal practice. After 30-plus years, all with the same boss who is now the CEO, I am cutting back from my current position as Vice President to part-time in 2021.

What is your favorite Badger memory?

Working with the professors who had radio shows on the public radio station, such as Larry Meiller and Norma Simpson was really interesting. I spent a semester working with the Agriculture and Home Economics radio shows and in 1977, we worked with reel-to-reel tape and an X-Acto knife to splice in music and sounds. Dr. Simpson had a family resources type radio show called, “Accent on Living,” that aired five days a week and I was tasked with producing the show one day a week. I even had a faculty ID! Dr. Meiller still hosts, “Garden Talk,” on WPR and I listen in whenever I’m back in Madison.

How would you describe your education from UW?

We had such remarkable opportunities to hear eminent researchers and people who had pioneered in various fields. While UW was a large university, I knew my professors and many of them were distinguished in their areas of expertise. Being from Madison, I expected UW to be competitive and rigorous, and it was.

What would you tell prospective students?

If you want to immerse yourself in your field of study, Madison could be the right place for you. It has a culture of excellence—so be prepared.

What is your involvement with our alum chapter?

It’s great to meet others who attended UW and to find out what they did with their education.

What is a fun fact which people may not know about you?

I make an excellent rhubarb pie and I grow my own rhubarb. I’m an avid gardener and grow many unusual flowers. In 2020, I grew a dazzling bright yellow peony and a wonderful August display of Monkshood, also known as aconitum.