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Linda Ahlers joins WFAA Board of Directors

Human ecology will once again have an alumni ambassador and advocate on the University of Wisconsin Foundation Board of Directors. Alumna Linda L. Ahlers (Retailing ‘72) was elected to UW-Madison’s official fundraising and gift-receiving organization board. The retired president of Marshall Field’s is serving a first three-year term.

“Something that I enjoy and have experience with in my career is strategic planning. Being able to see where the pieces fit and how the whole can be greater than some of the  parts,” Linda explains. “In my role on the foundation board, I get to see and participate in that strategic planning for the Foundation and see where the school fits into that. I think that’s one of the things that I can bring to the school.”

Following her graduation from UW-Madison, Linda first reconnected with SoHE while working at the Target Corporation when she came to campus as part of the company’s student recruitment. “Later, when I was president of Marshall Fields, a division of Target stores, the dean of the school, Robin Douthitt, visited my office. She drew me back in,” Linda recalls. “Then, in 2015, I was on campus with a friend and connected with the new dean, Soyeon Shim, and Jerry O’Brien (Director of the Kohl’s Center for Retailing).”

Through further conversations with school representatives and WFAA Associate Vice President of Development Bobette Heller, Linda began to investigate a larger role at the university that would fit her expertise while bridging the distance between Madison and her home in Hawaii. Serving as a WFAA board member met the criteria. “Another requirement for me to get involved is that the institution be one of excellence, very high standards. I really feel that the School of Human Ecology and the University of Wisconsin embody the chance for me to be a part of something really special and something really great,” Linda states.

Dean Shim agrees. “With this board member role, Linda is in a position to not only guide the UW Foundation and its future goals but also represent our school, alumni, and human ecologists.”

About Linda Ahlers

Linda is a SoHE 100 Woman donor and honoree who served on the school’s Retail Task Force and was a keynote speaker for a Retail Leadership Symposium. Previous board positions include the U.S. Bancorp (previously First Bank), Target Foundation, Guthrie Theatre, Detroit Renaissance Board, and the Hawaii Theater Center. Linda has served as a trustee for the Diamond Head Theater, Honolulu Museum of Art/Honolulu Academy of the Arts, Arts Institute of Chicago, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. In her new WFAA role, Linda follows in the footsteps of other SoHE alumnae who served on the UW Foundation Board, including Jean Manchester (Home Economics Education ‘48) and Phyllis Huffman (Home Economics Journalism ’48), who are fellow 100 Women honorees.

After earning her Retailing degree at UW-Madison, Linda’s started her career as a senior buyer for H.C. Prange Department stores in Green Bay, WI. This led to her to Dayton Hudson Corporation where she served in a buyer position for Target Stores. From there Linda honed her leadership and marketing skills, earned successive promotions within the company, culminating in being named president of the Marshall Field’s division in 1996. She retired in 2004 and spends her time in Hawaii and Wisconsin.

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