Free Enterprise Award

Our 40th Annual Free Enterprise Award Dinner will be held on May 15, 2023. We are excited to announce we have SOLD OUT this year’s event!

The annual Free Enterprise Award banquet honors a business and community leader. Started in 1983, this has become a coveted award, a list of “who’s who” of community leaders. This event also serves as the primary fundraiser for the Rotary Foundation of Green Bay.

The Rotary Club of Green Bay and the Rotary Foundation of Green Bay, Inc., are proud to announce the selection of Kate Burgess and Tom Burgess, co-founders of Elevate97, as the 2023 Free Enterprise Award recipients. This selection continues a long line of prestigious business pioneers and entrepreneurs in the Green Bay community who have exhibited the tenets of Rotary in their daily and business lives.

In the mid-1990s, Kate Burgess and Tom Burgess earned their commercial drivers’ licenses and journeyed the country by big-rig, brimming with Midwest work ethic. That open-road freedom soon spoke to their entrepreneurial spirit. And in 1997, a garage became home to their new fulfillment and direct-mail company.

Six acquisitions and 25 years later, Kate and Tom are still leading the charge at Elevate97 and continuously putting that entrepreneurial mindset to use. Elevate97 continues to expand its services through acquisition and innovation, and today offers a wide range of integrated or independent services that include print, fulfillment, technology, experiential graphic design, and commercial signage.

Their passion for collaboration and excellence extends beyond Elevate97. The Burgesses have invested in over 25 new and growing businesses, and partner with organizations to engage in strategy development to continue driving them forward.

Kate and Tom believe in paying it forward and giving their time and resources to support and strengthen the communities in which their partners live and work. They’ve created a corporate giving program in which they’ve made significant financial contributions, as well as donated in-kind services to a wide variety of worthy initiatives and causes that help make these communities better places to live and work.

Throughout both Elevate97 and the communities they serve, the Burgesses believe some of the most important contributions they can make is through mentorship. They’re passionate about community and cultivating connections. They thrive on helping others fulfill their potential.

Rotary selected Oral Health Partnership (OHP) as this year’s Charity Partner. OHP is dedicated to improving the oral health of underserved children in the Brown County community by providing dental services and education. Through five clinic locations, school-based and hospital programs, they provide more than 11,000 economically disadvantaged children dental care annually.

In 2005, an alarming number of kids were arriving in Green Bay area emergency rooms with dental pain and infections. A dedicated group of community volunteers within the Rotary club decided to jump into action and created an initiative called Healthy Teeth, Healthy Kids, a mobile, in-school dental clinic. From this program, OHP was created and became a 501c3 in 2007, opening its first clinic at the Howe Community Resource Center. Learn more at

Over the last 16 years, the Green Bay Rotary Foundation has distributed over $1,100,000 in funds back to our community. This includes all aspects of our distribution process, such as FEA, scholarships, and grants. The FEA component of this from the last eight years is over $650,000.

See you on Monday, May 15th to celebrate this year’s Free Enterprise Award recipients, Kate Burgess & Tom Burgess.

Thank you to this year’s event sponsors:



B.C.L. Foundation Green Bay Packers Give Back Prevea Health
Bellin Health John & Engrid Meng Foundation St. Norbert College
Chernick Family Foundation/Camera Corner Larry & Lois Weyers The Business News
Dental Health Products Law Firm of Conway, Olejniczak & Jerry, S.C. Tweet/Garot Mechanical, Inc.
Great Northern Nicolet Bank Foundation Wisconsin Public Service Foundation
Greater Green Bay Community Foundation PDQ Car Wash  


A-mazing Events Brannon Guyette, RBC Wealth Management Patterson Dental, Patrick Klatt
Anonymous Festival Foods Shayna Marie Photography

Previous Award Recipients

2022 – Chris Woleske – Bellin Health
2021 – Mark Murphy – Green Bay Packers
2019 – Craig Dickman – Breakthrough/TitletownTech
2018 – Michael Haddad – Schreiber Foods
2017 – William “Red” Lewis – PDQ Car Wash
2016 – William F. Kress – Green Bay Packaging
2015 – Susan Finco – Leonard and Finco Public Relations Inc.
2014 – Mark McMullen – Associated Bank
2013 – Tim Weyenberg – Foth
2012 – Mark Skogen – Festival Foods
2011 – Terry Fulwiler – WS Packaging Group
2010 – Rick Chernick – Camera Corner Connecting Point
2009 – Robert “Bob” Gallagher – Associated Bank Corp.
2008 – George Kerwin – Bellin Health Systems, Inc.
2007 – Larry Ferguson – Schreiber Foods, Inc.
2006 – Timothy Howald – Tweet/Garot Mechanical, Inc.
2005 – Larry Weyers – WPS Resources Corporation
2004 – Frank A. Wood – Green Bay News Chronicle
2003 – John C. “Jack” Meng – Schreiber Foods, Inc.
2002 – James F. Kress – Green Bay Packaging
2001 – Carl W. Kuehne – American Foods Group
2000 – Harry B. “Nick” Conlon – Associated Bank Corp.
1999 – K.C. Stock – KCS International, Stock Lumber Co.
1998 – James Madigan – FEECO International
1997 – Leo Frigo – Frigo Cheese, Paul’s Pantry
1996 – Don DeMeuse – Fort Howard
1995 – Louis Konop – Konop Vending
1994 – Robert Bush – Schreiber Foods, Inc.
1993 – Robert Harlan – Green Bay Packers
1992 – Donald Schneider – Schneider National
1991 – Ron Weyers & Wally Hilliard – American Medical Security
1990 – Donald Long – Imperial, Inc.
1989 – Steve Van Dyke – Foth & Van Dyke
1988 – Frederick Baer – Paper Converting Machine Co.
1987 – Paul Ziemer – Wisconsin Public Service
1986 – Phil Hendrickson – Krueger International
1985 – John “Jake” Rose – Associated Kellogg Bank
1984 – Merlin Bush – Schreiber Foods, Inc.
1983 – George Kress – Green Bay Packaging