Men at the Women’s Fund Luncheon

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the first annual Celebrate Women luncheon hosted by the Women’s Fund of Door County. It was an enormously successful event attended by over 300 women (and 5 men) at the Stone Harbor Resort in Sturgeon Bay.

In the days that followed, I was surprised that some of my male colleagues wondered out loud why I, as a man, would go to a Women’s Fund event. On the surface, it’s really a silly question. What man wouldn’t enjoy being one of only five men in a room surrounded by more than 300 women. But when I took some time to talk with the other men who attended the luncheon, it’s easy to understand why it’s not only women who should care about the Women’s Fund.

Randy Sahs, owner of Sahs Auto Collision, was one of those men who attended the Celebrate Women luncheon. He shared a story of a woman he once hired to paint cars.

“She was very good at what she did, but some of the men’s criticism ruined her career as a painter,” says Sahs. “In a lot of cases, women are up against greater odds because people say you shouldn’t be doing this or that simply because you’re a woman.”

Sahs supports the Women’s Fund because he wants young girls to realize that they don’t have to be limited by other people’s expectations of what is right for them.

“Society still holds back a lot of young girls,” says Sahs. “When they get older, they’ll wake up and realize they could have been doing whatever they wanted to all along.”

Door County Administrator Michael Serpe attended the luncheon because he enjoys “being in the company of strong, powerful women.”

Serpe looks forward to the day when people don’t look at gender, color or age when making a decision about who to hire for a job. “We’re not quite there yet,” says Serpe. “You have to take all of those blinders off. If you go through life with preconceived notions and stereotypes, you’re limiting your options for success.”

Serpe points to people he works with like Planning Director Mariah Goode and Library Director Becca Berger as two examples of “exceptionally talented women” who are doing wonderful things for our community. He hopes that the Women’s Fund will celebrate successful women to both educate the community and inspire others.

Sister Bay Village Administrator Bob Kufrin attended the luncheon and agrees with much of what Serpe believes. Kufrin says that the luncheon “clearly demonstrates to the entire county that women can be leaders, can organize, and can have an impact on everyone in the community.”

“If you look at many leadership positions, both private and public, women don’t hold them at the same percentage as men do,” says Kufrin. “This county is evolving, and the Women’s Fund helps draw attention to what women can do when given the opportunity.”

Roger Utnehmer is the President & CEO of Nicolet Broadcasting, the parent company for the radio stations of He attended the luncheon because he knows intuitively that women and girls still face considerable obstacles, but he wouldn’t presume to be able to articulate them all.

“Identifying challenges faced by women is difficult for a white, male, U.S. citizen blessed with opportunity, experience and good fortune,” says Utnehmer. “Sheer luck of birth means I have never experienced a glass ceiling, sexism and pay inequality that is an unfortunate reality for far too many women in America today.”

Utnehmer wants his company to be “a business that is sensitive to the unique challenges facing working women in what, for many, is a difficult economy.”

“The Women’s Fund will profoundly enhance the quality of life in Door County,” says Utnehmer. “Improving opportunity for women is good programming for radio stations and good business for everyone.”

BJ Cassidy is the co-Chair and one of the founders of the Women’s Fund of Door County. “We are honored to have the support of good men like these,” says Cassidy. “The challenges facing women and girls aren’t women’s issues – they’re human issues.”

“No one else in the county is focused on women and girls as whole entities. They focus on specific problems,” says Cassidy. “The Women’s Fund will seek out the best ideas from charities in Door County and invest in those projects that have the potential for the greatest impact.”

As for me, I attended the luncheon for very personal reasons. I have three sons who believe that they can accomplish anything if only they are willing to work hard enough to achieve it.

I want to be sure that my three daughters have exactly the same opportunity.

Bret Bicoy is President & CEO of the Door County Community Foundation. In 2008, he and his wife Cari returned to Wisconsin to raise their six children in the community they love. Contact him at [email protected].

Related Organizations