Judge John Zakowski Honored as 2016 Badger of the Year


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The Wisconsin Alumni Association: Brown County Chapter is pleased to announce that Brown County judge John Zakowski ’79, JD’83 was honored for his community support as the chapter’s 2016 Badger of the Year at its annual Founders’ Day dinner, held on May 3 at Brett Favre’s Steakhouse in Green Bay.

“I want to thank the Brown County alumni chapter for this honor,” said Zakowski, a Green Bay Southwest alumnus. “Because I know how many deserving Wisconsin alumni are in Brown County and Green Bay. I was fortunate to come back to my hometown and use my Badger education.”

Zakowski was appointed to the Brown County Circuit Court in 2011 and was elected to a six-year term in 2012. He was appointed the Brown County district attorney in 1987 at age 30 and spent 24 years in the DA’s office before replacing Judge J. D. McKay. In 2002, he was awarded the E. Michael McCann Prosecutor of the Year Award.

During his time in Green Bay, Zakowski has been involved with the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Brown County: a nonprofit organization that recruits, screens, and trains citizens to be the courtroom voices of abused and neglected children. He serves on the board of directors for the Green Bay Packers, volunteers with mock trial, was active with the Green Bay Area Drug and Alcohol Alliance, and has been a lector at St. Willebrord’s for 25 years. He’s also served on the boards of the Girl Scouts, Polish Heritage Society, and Exchange Club.

“I started in pre-med, like a lot of us, because I wanted to help people. And then you realize, no matter what you do in life, if you do it well, you’re helping society,” Zakowski said.

“Anyone who’s ever been to Madison and the University of Wisconsin knows what a great experience it is. The whole nine yards: Bascom Hill, Helen C. White, Picnic Point, Camp Randall, Fasching … The whole experience was wonderful. And it is a learning experience. I learned about myself, and I learned about life because you get to see so many people from all over the country and the world. And I really did get a great education in Madison.”

The Badger of the Year program honors UW-Madison graduates across the state of Wisconsin who are making a difference as business or community leaders, volunteers, educators, philanthropists, or advocates of the university; creating lasting contributions; and leaving our communities better than they found them.

Past Award Winners: 
2015: Dr. Patrick Warpinski
2014: Michael E. Blecha
2013: Molly B. Vandervest
2012: Robert G. Busch
2012: Sparkplug Award: Jim Reck
2011: Judith VanderMeulen Crain
2010: Paul Liegeois
2009: Gerald “Cort” Condon
2008: Harry Maier
2008: Sparkplug Award: Steve Pipp
2007: Phil and Betty Hendrickson
2006: Jim Temp
2005: Jim Kress
2004: John Gustavson
2004: Sparkplug Award: Curt Fuszard