Volunteer of the Year

Tom Kennedy
2013 Volunteer of the Year

Leadership, innovation, reliability - these are characteristics often found in individuals who have received past Volunteer of the Year awards. And this year is no exception. Add the knowledge and success that Tom Kennedy has had in the business world, and familiarity with terms like inventory control, supplies, advance planning, improving revenues, customer service and satisfaction, one can understand why his contributions have been so important to the long term success of Irish Fest. Tom served as a member of the Board of Directors from 1986 to 2002 and was on the Investment Committee and Finance Committee for many years. He is the Area Supervisor of the dedicated and hard working volunteers who provide our security and beverage services. If success is measured in inches Tom's success, whether at the festival or any of our year round Irish Fest events, can be measured in ounces. Yes that's ounces as in 12 ounces or 16 ounces. Tom annually negotiates and sets beer prices, cup sizes, craft beer and major brewery brands. He decides whether to serve wine straight up or mixed, and how many satellite bars serve bottled beer. Tom is generally one of the last people off the grounds on the Monday after Irish Fest. He also has mentored his own replacement -now that's really impressive! Congratulations to Tom Kennedy, the 2013 Irish Fest Volunteer of the Year. 


Julie Smith
2012 Volunteer of the Year

Julie is a Milwaukee Irish Fest Area Supervisor, Coordinator of Irish Fest Transportation and a year round office volunteer. As an Area Supervisor, Julie is a tireless advocate for her coordinators and is always around to lend a hand or give them support. During the festival she is in charge of making sure the entertainers and all of our special guests get to and from the airport, festival grounds and anywhere else they need to go. She does an amazing job managing all of our transportation needs, always with a smile and a great attitude. In the office she has been a dedicated volunteer for many years. She not only answers phones and emails but also is a great steward of the Irish Fest Center- watering plants, replacing paper towels, and decorating for the holidays are just some of the many things she does to help keep the Center going. All of us at Milwaukee Irish Fest thank Julie for her years of hard work and dedication and look forward to working with her for many more.

Congratulations Julie!


Maureen Modlinski
2011 Volunteer of the Year

Maureen Murphy Modlinski has been involved with the festival since the very beginning starting as a volunteer and progressing to coordinator and to Supervisor.  In every one of these roles, she has been committed to making the festival a success.  Maureen is a leader who walks the walk and leads by example.  No job is too small or trivial.  She treats fellow volunteers and festival goers with respect and great enthusiasm.  While being a leader, a supervisor, and a former board member, Maureen has stayed under the radar of recognition and just does the job because she truly enjoys being a part of the Irish Fest family.

Maureen is not just visible at the festival but is dedicated and involved throughout the year. It would be easier to make a list of the Irish Fest associated events that she has NOT participated in or chaired than to list ALL the many events of which she has been an integral part.  At most Irish Fest events, you will see Maureen and her family not only attending, but working and greeting others.  When a helping hand is needed, she is one of the first to extend it. Maureen, along with her husband, Dave, has instilled in their children dedication and love for the Irish Fest community.  As a result some new young leaders are emerging. 

The people that nominated Maaureen wrote the following:

“Maureen Modlinski shows a gentleness, thoughtfulness, kindness and compassion to all, with a special emphasis to the Irish Fest Community. We feel that she is very deserving of this award and recognition.  It is time for Irish Fest to show her that she is truly appreciated for her dedication and commitment to the Irish Fest mission for the past 31 years.”

Maureen worked with Chuck Ward to organize the Great Irish Open and gives tirelessly of time and talent to make it an ongoing success.  Presently, she is the Area Supervisor of Outreach where she oversees the Getaway, Christmas Party, St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the choir.  She is the coordinator of the festival marketplace and serves as festival co-supervisor of sales and retail.

Congratulations, Maureen!


Brian Witt

2010 Volunteer of the Year

Brian Witt and Jane Anderson, Milwaukee Irish Fest

The 2010 Volunteer of the Year, Brian Witt, lives and breathes the Irish culture and his passion and dedication have contributed significantly to Irish Fest's success and to the advancement of numerous other activities and events in the Irish Community.

Brian attended the first Irish Fest, became a member of the Shamrock Club, took Irish language lessons and became involved with the Irish Fest theater. He has supported Irish music lessons in Milwaukee on a year-round basis, has been involved with the Summer School for years and is an active partcipant in the Online Development Committee. And, of course-Coordinator of the Cultrural Pavilion at the festival.   Witt seeks out exhibits for the Cultural Pavilion that educate and entertain fest goers. He welcomes guest presenters and oversees the exhibit placement and set up in the pavilion. He oversees the set up of each display as well as any special needs of each exhibitor. His work is instrumental in ensuring festival guests enjoy themselves in the pavilion. Witt is also on the Summer School committee. Each year he helps decide who will come over. He looks for those people who will have a widespread appeal, either in a cultural or entertainment fashion. In 2010, Witt took on the initiative of overseeing the Irish Fest history tent, called the Voyager Tent, due to the use of the sail from an earlier exhibit on St. Brendan's voyage done in the earliest part of the decade. Artifacts were exhumed from the 30 years of the festival, as well as pictures and DVDs of early festivals, and had information pillars, showing the attendance and high lights of each year.

Congratulations, Brian!