Janet Niewold is one of the best, most inspiring mentors, teachers and friends. Inspired by the popular social media hashtag (#wcw), Janet also happens to be our Woman Crush Wednesday --and everyday for that matter-- because Wisconsin Without Borders Marketplace would not exist without her.
In many ways, Janet’s story, especially her impact, is the origin for the Marketplace. Our organization has humble roots of passionate people connecting. Janet has provided the solid foundation for continued growth. Global Health Institute Director Lori Diprete Brown met the women of Sumak Muyo in La Calera, Ecuador in 2010 and shortly after called Janet Niewold, who had passion and experience with artisanal work and South America.
Reading the letters of the students who have returned from the trips led by Janet, I am reminded of the lessons she shared while in Ecuador. Janet has taught her students to be flexible, believe in themselves, embody confidence, connect with others and always continue learning. She showed so many students on those trips, as well as numerous students in our organization, that every experience is what you make of it.
She leads by example
When I first became a Student Director for the Marketplace, Janet had said that she was trying to center her life around balance. She manages to be exactly the person you want to be. She makes time for her friends and family and works to maintain authentic connections and relationships with the people in her life. In our organization, our work is never done. We are a part of a dynamic, constantly evolving project. That means the work day never seems to end. To achieve this balance, Janet would always set personal deadlines for herself and keep us smiling with her jokes and stories. She embraces well-being.
She kept us learning through conversations. She taught us to be bold and confident in our willingness to learn. As a reliable Spanish conversation partner and mentor, Janet has taught me to embrace mistakes and keep my eyes open to all experiences.
Janet is Candid
She is honest and open about her life, both with love and work. Her gentle life lessons guided us to develop into the adults that we are becoming. Nothing is perfect, but it all manages to work out in the end. Janet has shown us how amazing life is by embracing opportunities and confronting challenges. She reminds us to be good people, good students and good professionals.
From spending months backpacking Latin America to raising two wonderful children to never stopping learning, connecting, teaching or inspiring, Janet is someone who I aspire to be. Without a doubt, many of the people who she’s touched share a similar sentiment.
Now, about five years after her first visit to La Calera, Ecuador, it’s time for our organization to say goodbye to Janet as she transitions out of her formal advisory role. She has empowered us to lead our group into greatness with balance and ethics considered every step of the way.
Throughout the rest of the semester, we will be honoring the women who inspire us. Janet is the first who comes to mind and deserves extra special recognition. This semester and into the future, we will continue to use the lessons Janet taught us.