As we approach fifty years of advocacy, it’s interesting to look back at the leadership rosters and honor those who started and maintained the organization. In all of that time there have only been about 300 people in official leadership roles. Of course, many of these individuals served multiple terms in multiple roles, and many of today’s Board Members certainly fit into that category.
As we examine the rosters of years past, several famous names appear from the earliest days. Professors Dr. Robert E. Clasen and Dr. Donna Rae Clasen helped lead the Wisconsin Association of Educators for Gifted and Talented (WAEGT) in the 1980s. Dr. Robert Clasen supervised the University Outreach for Talented & Gifted (UTAG) through the University of Wisconsin-Madison (now the Greater Dane Gifted Network). Dr. Donna Clasen wrote and won a federal Javits Grant to operate Project STREAM for twelve years at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Additionally, she founded the Whitewater TAG Network for Coordinators.
Professor Emerita Ellen Fiedler served on the WAEGT Board before she began her professorship at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. She is the author of Bright Adults: Uniqueness & Belonging Across the Lifetime, along with many additional articles and chapters in books on gifted topics.
Dr. Ellie Schatz, the first Consultant for Gifted Education at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and her successor, Welda (Swed) Simousel, were also early leaders in WAEGT. Welda also held offices in the Wisconsin Council for Gifted and Talented.
Dr. Sylvia Rimm, founder of the Family Achievement Clinic and author of many books on the guidance and support for gifted children and youth, served as a past president and officer of WAEGT from 1983-87.
Although not serving as a board member of the state organization, our own Governor Tony Evers can be found as a coauthor of papers in support of gifted education during the 1970s. He served as Superintendent of Public Instruction from 2001-2019 prior to becoming Wisconsin’s governor.
One other notable leader in gifted education nationally is Dr. Nicholas Colangelo. He received his Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was Director of the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education at the University of Iowa for many years. He is listed as lead author of A Nation Deceived (2004) and the ten-year follow up, A Nation Empowered (2015).
A complete compilation of the list of leaders from all of WATG’s history is still underway. However, the people profiled in this article are some of the powerful pioneers in gifted education with strong Wisconsin roots. We honor them and continue to build on their leadership.
Ruth Robinson, Past President, 2003-04