News & Events

Happy New Year & Thank You!

The Wisconsin Downtown Action Council (WDAC) cannot say thank you enough to all of you! Wisconsin Downtowns have done tremendous work over the last two years, and the efforts are appreciated by the Board, your local communities and others throughout the state. Some examples include: Creating opportunities for Brick and Mortar Stores to have on-line outlets; Assisting Businesses with curbside logistics; Creating Pedlets, Parklets, and outdoor seating areas; Establishing Pop Up Kiosks and Shops; Innovating to safely offer Events; Rewarding downtown patrons with Giveaways; and Adding Art to downtown spaces. We have shared your stories and will continue to do so when you send them to us at:

In spite of the world situation, we are proud of what we accomplished in 2021 and what we have planned for 2022.

2021 RECAP

  • Continued promoting the Shop WI Downtowns Campaign and added Wisconsin Public Radio ads in December to highlight the Campaign and map. The Shop WI Downtowns map had 500 views in 2021, more than double 2020’s views!

  • Held two webinars at the end of 2021 in lieu of the postponed Downtown Summit.

  • Doubled the  AARP Small Dollar Big Impact Grant to four communities.



As the WDAC celebrates 40 years, we realize we would not be where we are without the dedication of the board and our members. As part of our celebration, we will be highlighting past and present board members throughout the year. This month, we celebrate Jennifer Stephany who has been on the WDAC board since 2014, serving as President in 2018-2019.  She is the Executive Director of Appleton Downtown Inc and has been continually generating AND implementing creative ideas and solutions for the last 19 years.  Jennifer has also been sharing her expertise and experience on the Board of Arts Wisconsin since 2015. Current WDAC Board President Katherine Westaby appreciates the guidance and energy that Jennifer brings to the board stating “She has been a great resource during my presidency for the last 1.5 years.”

Jennifer’s personal mission is to live life through experiences and relationships that nurture creativity, life-long learning, and personal and professional growth. She is driven by a passion to continually advance Downtown Appleton forward and extends that to downtowns throughout the state.  We will celebrate and view some of those projects at the Downtown Summit in May.

Jennifer believes “Being a part of Wisconsin Downtown Action Council throughout my time with Appleton Downtown Inc. has provided many opportunities to connect statewide with my peers and engage in important issues impacting Downtowns.  As a Board member, I have had the chance to work on several projects aimed at helping communities of all sizes access and implement downtown development tools. One of my favorite projects was conducting a Downtown Walk Audit together with our outstanding partner, AARP.  The process was documented and shared with communities around the state. It was a learning opportunity for all involved and really opened our eyes to what it takes to truly be a walk friendly community for all people.”

AARP now offers a new edition of their walk audit tool kit that can assist any community in self assessing and reporting on the safety and walkability of their downtown corridor. The guide is FREE. Check it out here:

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