Meet Donna Walker, Board Member and Economic Development Manager, Dairyland Power Cooperative

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

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Donna Walker
Dairyland Power Cooperative
Economic Development Manager
General Board Member

How long have you been a member of MAEDC?

8 years. I am completing my first year on the MEADC Board of Directors. I was honored to be elected in December 2022, and so far, I have enjoyed helping the organization grow and represent the economic development profession.

Tell us about Dairyland and your role there.

Dairyland, a Touchstone Energy Cooperative, was formed in December 1941. Our headquarters is in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Dairyland provides the wholesale electrical requirements for 24 distribution cooperatives and 27 municipal utilities, who, in turn, supply the energy needs of members and consumers in a four-state service area that covers Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. I work with our members in Central and Northern Wisconsin, helping them primarily implement their economic development objectives, including attracting and retaining significant business enterprises in their communities.

What are your economic development specialties?

I have over 20 years of utility experience helping projects address their energy and sustainability needs. My expertise lies in supporting our external economic development partners, consultants, commercial and industrial real estate professionals, and members— to provide confidential, site-specific energy-related information that helps them make better-informed decisions for their projects.  What makes my role at Dairyland Power Cooperative fun and unique is that it lets me utilize my ability to understand potential projects' electric and gas utility requirements. I then collaborate with our engineering team to help us better understand, meet, and exceed our members' and prospects' needs and deliver outstanding customer service. I hold an MBA and earned the Master Economic Development Practitioner certification from the University of Alabama, Clemson University, Texas Christian University, and the University of Southern Mississippi.

What are your favorite places and things to do in your community? What are some hidden gems people might not know about?

In addition to beer, cheese, and cows, we are the land of lakes in WI. Just hiking on the ICE Age Trail with my puppies or floating on a crystal-clear lake is one of the best things I like to do. Did I mention that shopping in small-town boutiques also makes me happy?  You can also count on me to do some road tripping-checking out those hidden gems like Old Abes Super Club up near Jim Falls, Wisconsin.  When you go to the Super Club, remember that Wisconsin prohibited the sale and use of margarine from 1895 to 1967. Although the ban has since been lifted, there are still some restrictions that remain on margarine. Today, it is still illegal for restaurants and supper clubs to serve their customers margarine instead of butter unless the customer requests it! Please don’t ask for it….butter supports our Wisconsin dairy farmers!

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