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Alumni Spotlight: Don Winter

Don WinterBrookfield Central Class of 1984

Donald "Don" Winter is a Brookfield Central graduate whose work has taken him all over the country and whose passion has made a difference in his community.

When Don moved to Elmbrook, he was enrolled at Wisconsin Hills Middle School before graduating to Brookfield Central. During his time as a Lancer, he was involved in football, swimming, indoor track, and served as the golf captain and gymnastics manager. He was also active in Chamber Choir, Key Club, Student Council, and was even elected King of his Junior Prom in 1983. "Now that I have children of my own, I've come to appreciate the wonderful blend of teachers I had that guided, inspired, and pushed me," stated Winter. "You need all types of teachers to learn how to deal with different challenges in life and all of my teachers were passionate about their students and their jobs."

Winter had a number of teachers that impacted him through his educational journey. "The ones I look back fondly on were the teachers that guided when needed but gave students the respect and understanding to be themselves," reflected Don. His sixth-grade teacher, Tom Thaney helped Don transition to his new school environment and kindle a lifelong love for Broadway shows, and coaches Mark Adams and Rick Synold, as well as math teacher, Marsha Repensek helped to push him further than he knew he was capable. Don's chamber choir teacher, Kay Hartzell and philosophy teacher, Jerry Bandettini opened new doors to art, inspiration, and the power of positive thinking, and Key Club Advisor, Ray Engelhardt helped him develop a heart for service.

Don graduated in 1984 and continued his education at the Kelly School of Business at Indiana University in Bloomington. He earned a Bachelors of Science in Marketing with a minor in Sociology. Following his graduation, Winter worked in sales for several different companies before transitioning to a career in market research and consulting. "My expertise was in understanding the values and behaviors of American adults, generations, and affluent consumers and I've been able to work with many fun, exciting and well-known brands and people throughout my career," he reflected. "My love of being a consumer and brand expert has allowed me to thrive in my work."

Don eventually found his way to becoming the Vice President of Marketing for both Wildlife Trading Company and Wildlife Artists, Inc., two companies owned and operated by the same family. Wildlife Trading Company operates retail shops in leisure and cultural attractions across North America and the Caribbean and Wildlife Artists, Inc. is a wholesale company that sales realistic plush animals to zoos, aquariums, parks and other attractions worldwide. "I enjoy incredibly rewarding work of fostering long-term relationships with my clients," said Don. He also enjoys that he is able to travel for work, experiencing the local cultures and food at each stop, and has five more states to visit before he has seen all fifty.

Today, Don has been happily married for 24 years and has two sons. His family lives in Newtown, Connecticut and he is actively involved in his community, helping with school fundraisers, cub scouts, and acting on the board of a musical theater company in his area. "Our town is right next to Sandy Hook," said Winter, "so I've been able to help some of the wonderful organizations that have come out of that terrible tragedy."

"I'm so thankful to have had a public education that allowed me to find my passions, strengths and weaknesses. Elmbrook wasn't just a high grades college prep machine, the school system taught me to socialize, overcome adversity, and find the bearings and confidence critical for long-term happiness," stated Don.


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