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Making a difference: Hillary Anderson

'I think we can all volunteer time'

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December 27, 2023

APPLETON – There are many different ways in which someone can be introduced to volunteering – whether it be a parent’s influence, a childhood passion or a cause near and dear to someone’s heart.

For Hillary Anderson, a career in human resources (HR) is what led her to volunteer her skills and time to the community.

“My first volunteer board position was with Appleton COTS,” she said. “I was asked to be a part of the board – they needed somebody with some HR experience. I hadn’t done anything like that in the past. When I got there, though, I better understood the need for a lot of these nonprofits we have in our community and what they do for people in the community.”

A giving culture
Serving as vice president of HR at Werner Electric, Anderson said the company has a “strong culture of giving back.”

“Our mission statement is our unwavering commitment to our customers, communities, families and each other,” she said.

At Werner, Anderson said, the words of community support go beyond the wall they’re displayed on.

“We do a lot of giving back activities throughout the year – whether that’s school supply drives, coat drives or a United Way campaign,” she said. “Every quarter, we have some type of charitable giving opportunity, as well as multiple volunteer opportunities at all of our different branch locations. It’s something we’ve threaded into the fabric, if you will, of Werner and who we are.”

After Anderson’s time with Appleton COTS, which ended in 2015 after three years, she said making the decision to volunteer with other nonprofits was a no-brainer.

“After (my time with COTS) ended, I joined the board at Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services (where I served from 2016-22),” she said.

The nonprofit provides support to all individuals and families who are impacted by domestic abuse.

In 2019, Anderson joined the Fox Cities Chamber Board of Directors. 

“I’m in my second year of my second term at the chamber,” she said.

As a member of the board, Anderson said she has two roles: serving on its governance subcommittee and using her experience in HR to assist with the chamber’s Employee Friendly Workplace initiative – which focuses on encouraging employee-friendly workplace practices and policies in order to attract and retain the best employees to the region.

“The chamber is dedicated to making sure the community is economically sound and has the right resources for businesses to come in,” she said. “To me, it’s important to attract people to the Fox Cities and business to the Fox Cities. (And) the businesses who are already here need to be endearing to the candidates, and they need to be branded appropriately and have the right things.”

Anderson’s work with organizations focused on promoting and supporting the Fox Cities as a great place to work, doesn’t end there.


Hillary Anderson, vice president of Human Resources, said Werner Electric participates in several give-back activities each year, such as school supply drives. Here, a team of Werner Electric employees helped build wheelchairs and necessity bags for veterans. Submitted Photo

She has also been involved with New North, Inc., a regional economic development nonprofit, since its inception.

However, Anderson said it wasn’t until after her employer Werner Electric won New North’s Workplace Excellence Award in 2017 that she got involved with the nonprofit’s judging committee for said award.

“It’s a great way to better understand what other organizations are doing about people practices, and (how what they) have in place impacts their business,” she said.

Helping support Fox Cities business be the best they can be, Anderson said, is a rewarding experience.

“Being a part of the judging committee (allows me to) learn something new, (which we can) take back to our own companies every year,” she said. “Business leaders in the Fox Cities are open to making sure their organizations have great people practices, and they have cultures that are strong and healthy so they attract and retain good talent. I think that’s a much bigger initiative for organizations (in the last 20 years), and you can see it in the work these organizations are doing as they’re applying for these awards.”

Anderson said she was also asked to join the Women Who Care Group – a part of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation focused on engaging and building relationships among women – in 2019.

“I was invited by a neighbor friend and was hooked,” she said.

Once a quarter, Anderson said the Women Who Care Group holds a meeting where the group invites three to four nonprofits to come in and do a small presentation on a specific part or program within their organization.

“The funds that are received from that meeting go to whichever organization wins our vote,” she said. “It’s, first of all, eye-opening to see the needs of the community and things you wouldn’t necessarily think of or know on your own. But then, to be able to be a part of giving back to those organizations in a unique way is cool.”

Doing the right thing
Much of her work with nonprofits, Anderson said, align with her own values.

“I value doing the right thing,” she said. “And what I’ve found, I think from working with all these different organizations and different communities, is you don’t always know where the needs are – sometimes even when it’s right in front of you. To be open to hearing about different needs and opportunities to get involved, I think, is important.”

Anderson said it is also “really fulfilling” to be a part of the efforts focused on helping the community she calls home.

“Individually, I think we can all volunteer time, and I think that’s wonderful – certainly impactful,” she said. “I think as you put more people together, whether it’s different people from different organizations or different people from different communities, backgrounds or perspectives, you can make an even bigger difference.”

As Anderson works through her last term on the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors, she said she is already in conversation with other organizations and plans to fill that spot with another volunteer opportunity.

“I don’t know exactly what that looks like yet, so we’ll see,” she said. “But I definitely will continue to have my foot in that door.”

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