Alumni Profiles     

 

Brenda Stiff Wisniewski, ’68
  
 Distinguished Alumna,  2001


     In June, 2001, Brenda (Stiff) Wisniewski, ’68, was honored with the Distinguished Alumna Award for her focus on education.  For Brenda, attending Park was a significant step toward building the determined, yet caring, spirit that has guided her career and personal life. When Brenda entered Park, she followed her interests (as it turned out, not her passion) and declared herself a music major. Her involvement with Park Singers and the music department gave her a deep appreciation of music that comes with education — and that appreciation outlasted the duration of her status as a music major.

        According to Brenda, “Fortunately, I met Flo Crawford, head of the Park Economics Department, who opened up a new world for me. Her unorthodox way of teaching economics captured my imagination, and her independence captured my spirit.” Because of Crawford’s tutelage, Brenda has applied both imagination and independence to her career, which has culminated at Arthur Andersen (AA). Brenda comments, “The fit [with AA] was perfect as I don’t know of any other company that encourages and molds these characteristics to create win-win situations for its people and its clients.”

        While Crawford helped shape her career, Brenda’s husband, David Anthony Wisniewski, ‘69, is described by Brenda as “the central force” in her life. David and Brenda met at Park in their junior year, married that summer, and he has been her best friend ever since. Each has followed the other to new cities as their careers have progressed, but always as a partnership. David’s pride is evident in his comments: “Brenda was always successful in her career, quickly progressing to Assistant Vice President and officer of Crum & Forster, the fifth largest US property-casualty insurance company…and then she was elected the first woman president of the Insurance Marketing & Advertising Conference and the first person to be asked to serve a second term. But it was in Chicago at Arthur Andersen where she really hit her stride.”

        Brenda earned an MBA from the University of Chicago (‘87) in two years while working full-time. She helped AA take three new businesses to market before she was asked by the firm’s Worldwide Managing Partner to work for him and help define how AA could continue its success into the 21st century. Two years later, she was elected partner. As difficult as it was to earn a degree and build a career while traveling the globe, Brenda also found time to devote to one of her passions — helping improve the quality of life for others. She was a Board member for Grant A Wish, an organization dedicated to helping families in need. Each Christmas, she worked to find the gift requested by underprivileged children. Her last year in Chicago, she either found donors or bought and wrapped Christmas gifts for over 250 children. Now in Atlanta, she provides pro bono work for Junior Achievement, helping the organization use Web and broadband technologies to support teaching by business volunteers. Brenda also serves on the Boards of Women in Technology International (WITI) and Georgia Academy of Charter Schools. Recently she started working with the US Commission on Web-Based Education.

        Brenda’s mother always thought she would be a teacher. While that wasn’t in the cards, Brenda’s focus today is on education, both personally and professionally. She is Managing Director, Strategic Learning Solutions, a global service that helps both businesses and educational institutions use technology to make learning accessible to anyone, anywhere at anytime. She presented this vision to AA management in 1997. They supported the idea with funding and resources. Today, learning clients span the globe from Atlanta to England, Israel and Singapore. Given Park’s commitment to excellence and its leadership in distance learning, Brenda and Park President Don Breckon have been exploring opportunities for the two organizations to deliver education together, bringing Brenda’s Park experience full circle.