Clintonville native works for state’s youth
Gussert directs state Boys and Girls Clubs
By Erik Buchinger
Clintonville High School graduate Andy Gussert has his sights on making a difference in the lives of Wisconsin’s youth.
Hired as the state alliance director for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Wisconsin in December, Gussert said his role is to support the children.
“My job is essentially lobbying for kids across the state in these clubs,” Gussert said. “We have 142,000 kids at 155 sites in about 50 cities, and we’re continuing to grow. My job is to continue to raise money and advocate for the importance of these clubs.”
Gussert attended St. Rose for grade school and graduated from Clintonville High School in 1987 and Lawrence University in 1991.
Growing up in Clintonville, Gussert said he had a number of people who wanted to see him be successful.
“My mother and father had so much patience with me, and this job makes me appreciate that,” Gussert said. “There were also people like Terry Lorge on police force at the time who was incredible in giving me guidance. A lot of people wanted to see me succeed. Craig Akey, my English teacher, was a huge mentor. These people made an impact in my life, and it’s great that I get to do the same in other people’s lives now.”
Gussert said a lot has happened since he started the job including deals with the state’s top sports teams.
“We hit the ground running,” Gussert said. “We’re working on grants with the state in addition to private contributions. We’ve worked to get Delta Dental to make sure whenever the Brewers steal a base, a contribution goes the Boys and Girls Clubs across Wisconsin. Also, scholarships are given to our Youth of the Year winners from the Brewers, Packers, Bucks, Fox Sports Wisconsin and the Milwaukee Admirals.”
Gussert has volunteered and worked for different nonprofit organizations because of the impact they can make, he said.
“I think it’s where you can really make the biggest difference in the world,” Gussert said. “Things really change because you’re working with other people to make a difference. Nonprofit organizations like the Boys and Girls Club is how we do that.”
Gussert said he enjoys having the chance to interact with the children.
“I get to work with the kids, and it’s just wonderful to see that impact,” Gussert said. “It’s very powerful to see what a difference we’re making site by site when you see how many of our people are interacting with kids and making a difference in each individual life.
“Boys and Girls Clubs understand the key to the future is looking at kids right now and how we can make a difference in their lives whether it’s giving them a safe place, making sure they get food or making sure people believe in them. That’s the smartest thing we can do for a great world 20 years from now.”
Gussert said the club raises about $65 million per year across Wisconsin in private funding and provides more than 2 million meals and snacks for free each year.
“Kids can learn and grow when they eat,” Gussert said. “When they’re hungry, it’s hard to do those sorts of things.”
Gussert noted that 57 percent of alumni in the Boys and Girls Clubs say the club saved their life.
“That’s a powerful statement,” Gussert said. “We know we’re making a difference in people especially for the people who need it most.”