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Lifetime Volunteer Leadership

Walter L. Rugland Community Service Award

Sharon Hulce is the 2019 Celebrating Volunteers winner of the Lifetime Volunteer award. Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

This award recognizes an individual who has, over many years, positively impacted the quality of life in the Fox Cities through his or her leadership. An award of $5,000 will be presented to the recipient’s Fox Valley charity.

Sponsor since 1998:


Who Qualifies?

An individual who meets the above criteria and who has positively impacted the quality of life in the Fox Cities through his or her long-standing leadership. Candidates must reside or do the majority of their volunteer work in Outagamie, Calumet, Waupaca or northern Winnebago counties.

Nomination form


  • A volunteer who has, through his or her leadership and influence, worked with a broad array of nonprofit agencies and/or community resources to impact the quality of life in the Fox Cities.
  • A volunteer who has had a long-standing commitment to diverse organizations in our community.
  • A volunteer who demonstrates continued leadership and commitment to improving the Fox Cities.

Our 2019 winner is Sharon Hulce!
Watch Sharon’s Award Video, filmed and produced by video production students at University of Wisconsin – Fox Valley and Instructor Tom Frantz:

With the help of Sharon Hulce, dozens of Fox Cities nonprofits have found leadership  By Shane Nyman, Appleton Post-Crescent

Sharon Hulce, who founded a company that has conducted pro bono executive searches for more than 70 nonprofits
A native of western Wisconsin, Hulce has spent the past 26 years in the Fox Cities. In 2002, after eight years working in the executive search industry, she founded Employment Resource Group, which has helped find leaders for dozens of Fox Valley nonprofits over nearly two decades.
At the point, it might be easier to name the area nonprofits on which she hasn’t had an impact.
Over the years she (or Employment Resource Group) has won the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce’s Rising Star and ATHENA leadership awards, Women in Management’s manager of the year award and was a finalist for the Ernst & Young entrepreneur of the year honor.

“People have different levels of energy,” Hulce said. “I have always been someone who requires very little sleep. … I love being involved in the community and being able to —at a very grassroots level — use what I do every day for my getting-paid job and using that skill set to help (nonprofit) organizations grow, to help companies grow.”

The Fox Cities and its nonprofits — whether tied to arts, health services, fighting homelessness or beyond — wouldn’t be what it is today without Hulce’s contributions.

“Throughout the Fox Cities, Sharon’s volunteer efforts are shaping the leaders of nonprofit organizations in just about every organization that can be named,” said Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Becky Bartoszek, (Yes, she’s one of the leaders Hulce helped recruit.)

Among the wide variety of organizations Hulce’s helped are Boys & Girls Clubs of the Fox Valley, Sexual Assault Crisis Center–Fox Cities, Homeless Connections, the Trout Museum of Art, Community Blood Center and the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, just to name a few.

She’s also served on many committees and boards over the years, including with Fox Cities PAC, Fox Valley Technical College, United Way Fox Cities and Girl Scouts of Northeast Wisconsin, among others. She’s currently on the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce board of directors and Junior Achievement advisory board.

Hulce said she’s someone who’s always up for a new challenge. Proving that point her participation on numerous fundraising events, including as a celebrity chef, dancer and singer at different benefits.

“To me, you have three ways to give to your community,” Hulce said. “It’s treasure, time or talent.”

It’s her talent she’s been able to share and said after all the executive searches she’s been involved with, a difference can be seen in the Fox Cities’ nonprofit scene as a whole. What started as a way to help out and get her new company connected to the community has evolved into something much different.

“I just kept doing it because it was the right thing to do to give back to the community in which I live and I’m raising my daughter here,” she said.

When she Bartoszek broke the news that she’d earned the Walter L. Rugland Community Service Award, Hulce said she “cried a river.”

Walter S. Rugland, the son of the award’s namesake, also happens to play a role in Hulce’s story. More than 15 years ago, Hulce volunteered to help the just-opened Fox Cities PAC find a new president. She pitched the idea to the junior Rugland, a founding PAC board member, and he gave her the gig.

From there, Employment Resource Group has gone on to do more than $5 million in in-kind work for various nonprofits.

“I’ve received the best gift,” Hulce said. “We have a wonderful community of very strong leaders and I’m very proud of the people who we’ve placed. I’ve gotten an intimate view of almost every not-for-profit we have in this community and sometimes I don’t even know if the people who live here realize the capacity and the amount of gift that our community gives to those in need. It’s absolutely mind-blowing to me.

“So I’m the lucky one. The award is wonderful and I’m so excited to have won it and I’m very honored but the greatest gift is that birds-eye view and the intimate looks into all the different kinds of organizations. … I just love that about our community, that we have so many caring people who take care of other people.”

Read more here, via The Post-Crescent

Past recipients

2019: Sharon Hulce
2018: Nancy Heykes
2017: Jane Dwyre Garton
2016: Tom Prosser
2015: Roger Bertschausen
2014: Tom & Renee Boldt
2013: Jon Stellmacher
2012: Cathie Tierney
2011: David Vander Zanden
2010: Walter S. Rugland
2009: Kathi Seifert
2008: Fr. Robert Udulutsch
2007: Bill Schmidt
2006: Paul Hoffman
2005: John J. & Ethel D. Keller
2004: William A. Selle
2003: John F. Bergstrom
2002: Dr. Charles “Chick” Fenlon
2001: Frank & Marilyn Wiesner
2000: Joyce A. Bytof
1999: Dr. John & Sally Mielke
1998: James HayesHonorees prior to Celebrating Our Volunteers Gala:
1997: Fr. Orville Jansen
1996: John Bubolz
1995: Doug and Myrt Ogilvie
1994: Dorothy Johnson
1993: Vic Minahan
1992: John Reeve
1991: Paul Groth
1990: Gus Zuehlke
1989: Frank Shattuck
1988: O.C. and Pat Boldt
1987: William Kellett
1986: William Buchanan
1985: Walter L. Rugland