Debra AlderDean's Advisory Board Membershe/her/hers

After teaching for more than two years, I joined our family business, which was started by my grandfather in 1921. I worked there for more than 30 years, becoming CEO in 2004 after my father’s retirement. We provided logistics and trucking expertise, delivering fresh dairy products for Dean Foods, primarily in the Midwest and across 48 states as needed. My Human Ecology degree provided a strong foundation for building and strengthening relationships with co-workers and customers.

Why do you care about Human Ecology?

Human Ecology is a near-perfect blending of creativity, compassion and professional responsibility. As a business owner and community activist, I’ve tried to lead with these guiding principles. In order to face the challenges of our ever-changing, fast-paced world, we need to further strengthen the spirit and role of human ecologists.

What excites you about your role as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board?

The Dean’s Advisory Board is a source of great inspiration! Dean Shim and fellow Board members, along with input from faculty and students, give great impetus to our role as advocates for Human Ecology and the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Awards and Recognition

  • Wisconsin Governor’s Trailblazer Award for Women in Business
  • Governor’s Torch Award, given to third generation family business owners
  • Named a “Woman of Influence” by the Milwaukee Business Journal
A smiling white woman, with dark brown hair and eyes, wearing a blue sweater and black jacket.


  • Board of Trustees, St. Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin
  • Planning Commission, City of Delavan, Wisconsin


  • BS, Home Economics Education '77, School of Human Ecology, University of Wisconsin–Madison

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