March 18, 2016
On Moving From Success To Significance
Jeff Buchta, Valley VNA Board Member
Jeff Buchta admits he doesn’t have many hobbies and he’s a bad golfer, which makes him a poor candidate for a typical retirement. This is not a frenetic man who can’t sit still; rather, Jeff is peaceful and cognizant of the business acumen he’s worked hard to develop over the past 40 years. He applied his MBA from the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University to kick off a long and distinguished career in tag and label sales and packaging innovation. After a brief try at retirement he became the CEO and executive director of Tri-County Dental, an all-volunteer dental clinic serving people in Calumet, Outagamie and Winnebago counties who have inadequate access to dental care.
Jeff’s decades-long career at the helm of Mid America Tag and Label, then in executive positions at Menasha Corporation, Promotional Designs, and finally WS Packaging, ultimately linked him with many of the region’s most influential business and philanthropic activists. He has become the pivot between a remarkable mission-centered dental clinic and hundreds of donors who help keep both doors and hearts open.
Jeff pulled a book off the shelf in his plain office to explain his personal motivation for his current job and his work on the Valley VNA board of directors. Half Time: Moving from Success to Significance by Bob Buford is a guide to finding fulfillment in the second half of one’s life, after the rat race of career-building and child-rearing. For Jeff, it’s like an equation. He’s been given a lot, and now he can give back.
Jeff’s plain-spoken, pragmatic approach to fundraising was evident in one of his first projects at the dental clinic. “We added 100 names to the mailing list during our Double Your Donation Drive, and we raised an extra $50,000,” a significant bump toward reaching his annual $600,000 goal, he said.
“Many people think of fundraising as a burden,” he said. “I don’t. There are plenty of good people out there with money who are very willing to give. My job is to get to them at the right time.” He places a priority on maintaining relationships with donors as they are interested, like inviting them for lunch and a tour, or placing a call to simply touch base, expertise he willingly shares with the board at Valley VNA.
Jeff’s father volunteered to teach disabled children how to swim at the Neenah-Menasha YMCA, and he distinctly remembers going to help out on Saturday mornings. His mother was in the earliest wave of volunteers who supported refugees who arrived in the U.S. after the Vietnam War, and Jeff helped her set up apartments in preparation for their arrival. “They raised me to think like this, and it’s how we (Jeff and his wife Cindy) raised our children. It has to become part of your fabric, internalized.”
If you have questions or comments about the operation of the Valley VNA board of directors, please read more of our recent board member profiles or feel free to contact Theresa Pichelmeyer, Valley VNA President & CEO, at (920) 727-5555