In the spotlight: Erik Brown

Erik BrownAbout three decades ago Erik Brown, one of TDS Telecom’s managers of application development and management, had a life-altering experience at Badger Boys State (BBS). Since attending himself, Brown has returned 25 years as a volunteer hoping to impact the lives of others. Brown says, “When I was there as a participant I had a really great time. I got to meet people I may have never encountered otherwise in life.”

BBS teaches high school boys, who’ve just completed their junior year, about city, county and state government. The one-week program takes place in June on Ripon College’s campus in Ripon, Wis. The program, run by the American Legion, hosts about 850 boys from all over the Badger State each summer.

When camp participants (also known as “citizens”) arrive they’re divided into fictional cities and tasked with establishing a government. The boys elect, city, county and state representatives. Eric Gierach, a former citizen who also happens to work on Brown’s team at TDS as a software engineer, says the faux elections were his favorite when he went to BBS in 1998. Gierach says, “I thought it was awesome applying for a position and persuading people to help others run and vote.”

Brown, who’s served on the program’s board of directors, as assistant director and as historian, sacrifices a week of vacation every year to participate in the camp. This year’s program, which will be volunteer year number 26 for Brown, starts in mid-June. BBS may only be one week long but, preparing for the event takes all year. Brown says because of the time commitment he sometimes questions if he’ll return for the next session. But, by the end of the week he’s re-energized.

Brown says, “A lot of the guys are awfully shy when they arrive. Maybe they only know a guy or two but, by the time they leave they’re high fiving and slapping each other on the back like they’ve known each other for decades. Their confidence grows exponentially that’s a big part of the reason I keep going back.”

About Barclay Pollak

Barclay Pollak is an award winning journalist and proud to be a member of the Corporate Communications team at TDS Telecommunications Corp. (TDS®) in Madison, Wis. Barclay joined the team in April of 2013. Before that Barclay worked as an Anchor/ Reporter for the NBC affiliate in Madison. While at NBC-15 Barclay was recognized by several organizations for his contributions to the television news industry. They include the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, the Radio Television Digital News Association (Edward R. Murrow Regional Award) and the Chicago/Midwest National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (2012 Emmy Nominee). When he’s not working Barclay enjoys cheering for all the sports teams in Wisconsin. Barclay’s a University of Wisconsin-Madison alumnus and a huge fan of Badger athletics. Barclay is fascinated by the ever changing world of technology and spends a fair amount of his free time reading about the latest and greatest developments online. When Barclay’s not learning about technology he’s scouring the Internet in search of freeware. Barclay has an 8-year-old daughter and lives with his girlfriend of almost five years on Madison’s southwest side. G+.
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